I don’t think a lot of women feel comfortable admitting this anymore but all I’ve ever wanted to be is a mother. I never felt compelled to go to college or work, I mean I did because a girl has got to eat but I was never really inspired by it. People make it seem like that’s somehow anti-feminist but surely having the choice as to whether they are a stay at home mom or in employment is a large part of feminism? I know I’m complaining a little bit here but I do actually have a job. I work in real estate. I have a small realtor business which covers Ashwick Valley and the neighbouring town. I barely work there now though, I have a great manager in place so it basically runs itself. I only work with the big clients or friends or whenever Margaret Simons and her team are trying to get the property. God, I don't hate a lot of people but I hate that bitch. She is, ah, so infuriating. I realised from a young age that I did not take well to authority figures and so I worked hard to become my own boss. I have another job too, I say job but it is most definitely not a job. I’m a fosterer and it is by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my life. It is hard, very hard sometimes. Some of the kids are older and the likelihood of them finding a forever home is small and I find that so sad. Some of their stories, what they’ve experienced at such a young age is so unimaginable, it breaks my heart every time. We still do get quite a few babies and don’t get me wrong, I love it. They’re so precious and their innocence is still there and well, I just adore babies but working with the older kids makes me feel like I’m helping more because the outlook for them isn’t as bright as it is for the babies in the system. If we can give them a little bit of stability and make their life a little bit better than I know I’ve done my job.
Actually, there are two babies that really stick out in my memory. They were born addicted to drugs. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome babies are unforgettable. Every 19 minutes a baby is born in the US addicted to drugs. Isn’t that absolutely astounding? The number is growing rather than declining and frankly it’s atrocious. Abigail was the first one. I remember she screamed for hours at a time. It was a normal baby cry, it was this high pitch, blood curdling scream. It sounded like she was in pain and it was heartbreaking. She twitched, barely slept and trying to get her to feed was nearly impossible. Unfortunately because of her start in life she has seizures for life now. The decisions her mother made before she was even born now have an effect on her life forever. Her forever family are amazing, they keep my up to date on what they’re doing and how she is. The second was a little boy who didn’t leave the hospital for over a month because of how sick he was. My job was to literally sit there with him, holding him, feeding him whilst they were trying to minimise his withdrawals using methadone. The theory is that having a skin to skin connection helps newborns, particularly NAS and premature babies and I don’t know if it’s necessarily true but it felt like it helped, I honestly really do think it helped. I’m not sure what happened to him. I know he was adopted but the family moved out of state and we lost touch. I think about him a lot though, I’d love to know how he was doing.
I come from a very big family myself. I have seven brothers and sisters, yes I really did say seven so I guess I always wanted a big family. My parents worked hard and although we didn’t have a lot growing up, we always had enough. I had a fantastic childhood. I have two bio children by two different dads. I know it doesn’t sound too great but I’ve always had a thing for the bad boys. I can’t help myself. It drove my parents crazy. I got married at twenty-one to a musician. He was very handsome but he was older than me and was too obsessed with his art. He was touring up and down the country and I am not the type of woman that can live in a van. I like to have my hair and nails done and I own a lot of clothes, van life is not for me. To cut a long story short, I got pregnant, we divorced and unfortunately miscarried. It was the worst experience of my life. I think the stress of the divorce and everything didn’t help the situation. I felt a lot of guilt, I really did think it was my fault but it wasn’t. Sometimes things just happen and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it. It took a lot of time and therapy to get through it but I did and I’m a stronger person for it. He never made it as a famous musician either by the way, surprise surprise but he hasn’t got the memo yet. He’ll still be touring using a Zimmer frame.
My baby girl came with none other than STRONG KANUTAL. I may have told him I was five or so years younger than I was when I met him. He was another bad boy too, not so much anymore because he’s actually a grown up now but back then he was still pretty naughty. I mean have you seen him? He is one very attractive man. Basically, he was totally my type. We didn’t exactly date but we had sex, a lot of sex and that’s where baby number two came from. Strong may be a lot of things but I can’t fault his parenting skills now. I mean for a long while there he was pretty useless but I knew what I was signing up for when I found out I was pregnant and decided to keep it. Being a single parent was incredibly difficult but I have a big family so there no was shortage of hands to help. I really can’t express how amazing my family is. I couldn’t do the things I do without them. I think the hardest thing I found with my daughter was that I found myself feeling guilty. I love her more than I thought it was humanly possible to love another person so much but I felt guilty for being so happy when I’d lost my first. It was hard to put those feelings to rest but I did because feeling like that when you’re supposed to be at your happiest isn’t then best way to live. I had a miscarriage, it wasn’t my fault and my daughter wasn’t a replacement for the child I lost, once I got my head around that and accepted it, things got easier. I feel like I’m trivialising it now but it was a process, a long process but I don’t want to relive it. Anyway, Noah ended up doing a great job with Strong. He’s only a part time asshole now. I mean sometimes he still drives me crazy and I imagine cutting his stupid little man ponytail bun thing or whatever it’s called off but I refrain. It’s weird imagining that we were anything other than friends now honestly. He’s kinda like a little brother or something to me now.
My son I had with my husband. We’ve been married ten years now but together thirteen. I lied about my age to him too when we first met because he’s a few years younger than me. He only found out my actual date of birth when we went on our first vacation together and he saw my passport. I don’t know why I do it, it’s just a habit. I don’t know why I have a thing for younger men either, I think maybe my first husband put me off the older. When I say younger by the way I mean just a little bit, I’m not a cougar or something... promise. I guess I’m just young at heart?
Now I am Latina and very proud to be. My heritage means a lot to me. I am very fiery though so my poor husband puts up with a lot. My temper is unmatched. I’m like a natural disaster when I pop off but he can talk me down which I love about him. My husband calls it endearing because I’m not particularly tall and as quickly as I get irate I’m completely chilled out again. He actually thinks it’s cute. Honestly I think it’s mostly in check now, maybe… I still have a lot of road rage. He says I can’t drive but I can totally drive, sometimes I find parking hard and I miss turnings but still I am a good driver. (She is definitely not a good driver). Realistically, the things that get me most irate now has to do with my kids. If I think somebody is hurting them or they’re unhappy, I get very annoyed. It doesn’t matter how old they get or how long they’ve been with us, they’re my babies and I am very, very, very protective over my babies.
I like to think I’m a firm but fair parent. I know a lot of the kids I have with me have issues and so I give them some leeway but at the end of the day, I have rules and whilst they’re under my room I expect them to be followed. If I let one push the boundaries too much then they all start doing it and I tend to have way too many kids under my roof to let that happen. It’s chaos the majority of the time but it’s organised chaos and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to raise the kids to be assets to society, no child of mine is going to waste the life. We’re a pretty loving household too. There are hugs a plenty, well the young ones quite like the hugs but the teens, not so much. It makes me totally uncool apparently but please, I am a cool mom, a cool foster parent. Knowing what boundaries work for each kid is very important. It’s hard but often the kids aren’t looking for another parent and so you have to be an authoritative figure but not just another voice, you know? It’s hard balance sometimes but when you get it right, it’s so worth it. I just really have a lot of love to give because I was a loved kid and I want each of them to know they’re loved too. Even if they make a mistake, do something stupid, it’s okay, well not okay but I feel like it’s important for them to know there’s somebody in their corner, no kid should feel alone in the world.
The hardest part is letting them go. Whether it’s to back to their family, to the system or to a forever home, it’s really hard. If I could adopt them all, I would, I really would but it’s not a viable option. I’ve already had to extend my house and I bought the house next door and we’re in the works of connecting the two. I guess that’s one good thing about working in the property world, you know all the right people. Also, I’m the crazy woman in the neighbourhood with all the kids so I think I’m singlehandedly driving the street’s property prices of the street so I got a great deal and I think we’ll get approval to do it.
Currently I’m a very happy woman, even if I feel like I may have a breakdown most days, particularly in the mornings during the school run. Honestly, yesterday I spent 20 minutes trying to convince a five year old to just put on a sock, a sock! I’m not going to pretend everything is rainbows and butterflies because it’s not, it’s stressful and it’s hard but honestly, I really wouldn’t change it. Like I said, I’m a very happy woman with a very happy life.