Never Quit: On Foster Care, Cancer & Motherhood

This Mother’s Day, I can’t seem to find the right words.

As the world celebrates the powerful women in this world who have given them life, I feel simultaneous grief and joy.

  • Grief  //  Because my sweet mother is fighting a battle for her life.
  • Joy  //  Because I have never seen her more alive and full of faith than she is right now.
  • Grief  //  Because as I sit and snuggle our first foster daughter who has made me a momma, my heart is breaking knowing her mother sits somewhere today with empty arms.
  • Joy  //  Because I think it will be the last time they celebrate this day apart

The duality of gaining a temporary daughter while also being confronted with the reality of my own mother’s cancer diagnosis has not been lost on me. Yet, even in the midst of all these difficulties, on my first Mother’s Day, I’m reminded of something my own mother spoke to me in November:


It was two weeks before my home would be opened to vulnerable children in the surrounding communities. We sat at a restaurant eating tacos and swapping stories and I blurted out that I was having second thoughts. I told my mom, one of the greatest listeners I know, that I didn’t know if I could be a mom. The idea of advocating for children and families in need was important to me but when faced with the reality of being a parent and then having the child leave, my confidence crumbled. 

It was there in that moment of honesty that she reached across the table, wrapped her warm hands around mine and said the words my heart was hungry for:

“No matter what happens, I will never tell you to quit.”


It seems like a harsh thing to say when someone is struggling and wants to quit, but in that moment it was simply her motherly wisdom – she said the words she knew would kick her daughter into gear. Her way of saying, “I’ll be here for you, but you’re not backing down now.”

In the almost 6 months that I’ve been a parent, there has been a loop in my head telling me that I can’t do this. That this will break me. That this will be the thing that is actually as hard as everyone says it is. That I’ve made a huge mistake in getting mixed up in foster care.

Then her words come back to me…

// “Never“, she said. //

“You can call me to cry, vent, and pray, but I will never tell you to quit because it’s too hard. Never.”

As we sat together that day, I simultaneously doubted my strange entrance into motherhood and marveled at the woman who gave me life and still gives me life.

She has kept up her side of the deal. On December 21st motherhood and the reality of foster care hit me like a squall and I crumbled. Our first placement arrived and we welcomed a 15-month-old girl into our little family. The nights lasted forever and the doubts multiplied in the darkness. We struggled. I struggled. And I called my momma hoping she would give me an out. Tell me to protect myself and do what’s best for me. Even when I gave her the chance to say, “Honey, it’s okay if you want to quit”… she never did. Just as promised weeks before, she has never told me to quit. In the moments of exhaustion and grief, she’s reminded me why we chose to be foster parents and life flows in my tired bones and I parent another day. In the moments of regret and insecurity, she’s reminded me that there isn’t a mom on earth who hasn’t felt that way. In the moments of joy and laughter, she’s reminded me to soak in every second because motherhood is a precious gift.

I am blessed to have a mom like this, and I hope to be a mom like this.

Now, as she struggles through the hardest season in her life, I want to take the time to say the same thing to her over and over again:

“MOM, I WILL NEVER TELL YOU TO QUIT.”

Even when it feels like you’ve lost your faith. Even when it seems like you can’t go on. Even when you’re in pain and you doubt what God has said. Even when you call me and we pray and wrestle our fears to the ground together, I will never tell you to quit. 

We’re both mom’s now and we don’t quit. 


So here’s to all the women who have given me life: To the women who have challenged me, encouraged me, prayed for me, showed me how to follow Jesus and love others with everything I have. Mom or not, you have given me life and that is to be celebrated.

To my fellow foster moms: You’ve probably battled regret, doubt, grief and many other emotions you can’t even name. If you’re wondering if you’ve made the right choice or not, please know that we are praying for you. This journey is difficult and you can’t prepare yourself for it. My advice? Pray. Pray and surround yourself with people who will be there for you, but won’t let you back down. You can do this. We will never tell you to quit because this world needs people like you.

To our sweet foster daughter’s mom: Today, your hands might be empty but my desperate prayer is that it won’t be for long. Today I’ll tell your daughter how much she is loved and I’ll remind her how hard you are working to make things right. I’ll tell her she looks just like you – beautiful and cherished. It’s hard right now, but please don’t quit. She needs you. She loves you. We love you.

To my Mom: You are strong, courageous, beautiful and loved. Keep fighting. Keep believing. Keep trusting what God has said. I love you.

To all the women out there, mom or not: You have a purpose, you have a calling, and you have a place at the table whether you’ve given birth or given life in some other way. Let’s lift each other up. Help one another in our grief and loss. Pray for one another. Let’s be the kind of women that reach across the table and say, “I’ll always be here for you, but I’ll never tell you to quit.”

 

Let’s be like my mom.

 

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