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Christmas when some of your kiddos aren't yours anymore

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

My mom always used to tell me that the holidays were really hard for her. She lost my grandma when I was a year old, in the spring, to a viciously aggressive type of lung cancer. My mom's mom was her best friend and favorite person, the kind of person that no one else could ever replace. They shared 30 years of holiday memories, and since she's been gone, my mom's holidays have just never been the same without her.

She used to explain this to me as a kid, and I honestly sort of brushed it off. "Grandma Angel" had been gone for as long as I could remember, and I didn't understand why my mom couldn't just shrug off missing her, put those feelings away in the back of her mind, and enjoy what was right in front of her, the now. Even as a young adult I remember having these types of dismissive thoughts. I didn't get it, like AT ALL. I had the supreme luckiness of never having lost anyone before.

My first two kids came to me through foster care right before Christmas, in December of 2015. I had been planning and wishing and hoping to be a mom for what felt like my whole damn life (it wasn't that long, I was 21 ya'll) so when they came to me that first Christmas, it was KID CHRISTMAS MAGIC CENTRAL! They were both elementary school aged, so everything about the holidays was the Best Thing Ever with them. Their christmas wishes were fairly inexpensive and adorable (BeyBlade stadium. That one figurine of a Power Ranger.). They LOVED activities like going to see the Christmas lights, or dancing their little butts off at a community Christmas concert. I had them for two, almost three, Christmases, and each one was the best christmas ever.

I loved being a mom at Christmas. I loved being THIER mom at Christmas. I would always have two weeks off from teaching to spend with them, and we lived it UP during those winter breaks. Their first sledding trip, filming them scream with joy as they raced down the hill. Making cookies and eating half of the dough out of the bowl. Watching them open the one Christmas toy they most wanted in the world and watching them play with it for the rest of the morning, basically ignoring all of the other gifts. Going to see the new kid movie that always comes out during winter break armed with copious amounts of snacks. Those will always be some of my most joyful holiday memories.

3 days before Christmas of 2017, I set up our usual Christmas tree. At their mom's house. I wrapped all of their gifts, and I drove them over to her house, along with all of their little shoes and toys and clothes and blankets. I dropped them off, kisses and hugs and well wishes for the future, and drove away with a knife in my throat. And there were no more Christmases with the first two after that. Ever again.

Reunification is a beautiful thing in foster care. It is the ultimate goal, that children can rejoin their healed biological families and be where they always belonged. It's a joyful time for biological families who have busted ass for months or years to make it happen. But it's a really hard time for a foster mom who built her life around two little buddies for over two years.

In the here and now, I have two beautiful sons again. They're both very different from the first two boys that I raised, and life with them is fulfilling and amazing. We have our own way of doing Christmas, and it's so special and has healed my Mama heart so much.

And yet.

The two sons I have now are their own type of amazing, and will never be replacements for the two sons who went home. Those first two were the type of people that no one else can ever replace. We shared 2 years of holiday memories, and since they've been gone, my holidays have just never been the same without them.

Merry Christmas little buddies. Lolo is thinking of you all of the time this time of year, and missing you so much. So much.

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