I believe in my destiny to be a mom. Not just any mom, but a mom who will be tested and fiercely protects her off-spring just as the lioness on the Serengeti. You see, I built my family as a foster parent. Before you go thinking I’m some Joan of Arc for kids, I really just backed into our local foster program, thinking it would be great way of gaining parenting skills while I waited for my private adoption. Imagine our surprise seven days after being awarded our foster license that a three-day-old infant would be needing a home when she was released from the hospital in four hours. It was drilled into our heads that foster parents must be advocates for the children placed in our care. As I tried to work though mind-numbness that comes from the shock of knowing your wildest dreams are about to come true, I went about the work of being this baby’s advocate. What’s her birth parent situation? Prenatal care? Health issues? Drugs or alcohol detected?
This was only the first of many fact-finding conversations I was to have on behalf of our now seven year old healthy, gorgeous, funny, smart daughter. But I wasn’t prepared for addressing the racist, stupidly rude question from a teenage drugstore clerk in a southern upscale neighborhood. I provide that detail because while most of the country thinks we southerners are hicks who marry our cousins, we are a people who pride ourselves on good manners. Poor origins are excused by good manners. Good breeding can be undermined by bad manners in a heartbeat.
“Is she mixed?” asked the blonde.
“Excuse me?” I checked my hearing.
“Is she mixed?” the naive girl asked. “What is she? Is she mixed?” looking at my beautiful child, who was unaware of the slow burn that was smoldering next to her.
“EXCUSE ME?” I repeated very loudly, thinking surely this girl would get a hint that she was getting a little close for comfort — like the lioness’ deep growl warning for fool hearty threat too close to her cub.
“You know– where’s she from? She’s so pretty. What is she mixed with?” I was stunned that this ignorant girl was describing my beautiful daughter like some cocktail she might sample at a frat party.
Through clenched teeth I uttered the response I had been practicing but never thought I would have to use. “We have decided that we don’t discuss such things outside our family.”
I took my change, grabbing my daughter’s hand a bit too roughly. I said a quick prayer to myself that the clerk would go home and tell her mother of this encounter who would wisely educate her daughter on the foolishness of her behavior today with a stranger and one very special little girl.
I was high on the adrenalin of the moment and absolutely certain of the manifestation of my warrior destiny. I am mother; hear me roar.