Motherhood comes in a variety of beautiful forms.
In this piece and others, LifeZette is honoring moms of every sort this year by featuring everyday mothers from many types of families.
They include families with adopted kids, foster kids, biological kids, stepkids, and “children of the heart” — those who defy a category but are definitely considered family.
Meet single mom Laura Edge, of Naperville, Illinois.
Her adopted daughter, Angel, is 15, and her two foster children, Cait, 10, and Sean, 11, joined the family in 2014.
The Edge family is eagerly anticipating the finalization of both Cait’s and Sean’s adoption in about one month.
LifeZette spoke with Laura Edge about some very mom-focused topics.
Question: What is your Mother’s Day wish this year?
Answer: My first answer is to wish for a nap! But honestly, my wish for Mother’s Day is that it’s a relaxing, joyful day for everyone.
Mother’s Day brings so many emotions to my family that sometimes it gets really hard to celebrate. I miss my mom, who passed away. My little kids have no memory of a mom and it bothers them, and Angel [her adopted daughter] wonders why her [biological] mom didn’t work to take care of her.
My kids are so sweet on Mother’s Day, but there is always that background [that each one brings to the family in terms of challenges].
Q: What is the hardest part of being a mom? The easiest?
A: For me, the hardest part of being a single mom of three children is making sure I have enough time to listen and connect with my kids. All three have suffered at the hands of their mom and dad, so it takes more time to create that trust relationship, and to keep it going.
Each wants to be heard and wants time alone with me, and that is so hard when you add in all the therapy, reading lessons, sports, school, work, and laundry.
The easiest part is loving my kids. I’m an accidental mother. I never planned to be a single mother, so when God started bringing these kids into my life, the only thing I knew I could do was love these kids. I knew I could be part of their healing, but couldn’t even imagine how to go about anything beside feeding them and loving them.
Q: In what ways is your family similar to others, and in what ways are you different?
A: All families seem so different these days. My family is made up of three different families –– yet it works. My kids have biological siblings that we keep in contact with, and others that we can’t, but they still count as family. My kids are wonderfully spoiled by my sister’s and brother’s families, as well as by my father.”
They don’t know what Christmas is like without celebrating it with their grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles. They have no memories of gifts or celebrations for holidays or birthdays outside of our family.
I believe my kids would tell you our family is different because they don’t have a father. They all desperately desire a good father … but all are scared, at the same time. Which makes Father’s Day one that we try to completely ignore.
“Being a mom of any child is hard, but staying the course ends up with a life well-lived.”
Q: What would surprise others about families with foster and adopted kids?
A: The kids always grieve the loss of their biological parents. No matter how good a home they are in and no matter how much they love you, they will always grieve. Even if they’ve had the worst parents in the world and never want to go back, they grieve, “Why they didn’t want to be nice to me? What was wrong with me?” This is always an issue to deal with.
Q: What is your hope for your children’s future?
A: My hope is that they will all be productive members of this world, pleasing to God, and to those around them. I pray that their experiences won’t haunt them, but rather empower them to fight, share, and save someone else. I’m not sure what the future holds for Cait [who has special needs], but I’m going to do my best to map out a plan for her care. She is a bright light and I pray no one will ever dull her world.
Q: What is your parenting style?
A: I am a very strict, momma-bear parent. I have had to be, as kids from rough places have not had the early training about basic things like hygiene, eating, manners, and home safety. They have seen and heard things no one should know about, so there is a ton of re-training to do. They seem to thrive on routine, and the fact that someone is in control. As they get older, I find I’m working on backing off and trying to give them more control and [more of their own] decisions to make.
Q: What wisdom would you offer to new moms?
A: My advice is best summed up in this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Being a mom of any child is hard, but staying the course ends up with a life well-lived. Focus on you –– your honor, your compassion, your gifts –– and the end result is joy for you and your family.
Read the first article in our 2018 Mother’s Day series here.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.