Some moms were born moms. To nurture, care, and provide for their children just comes naturally. Knowing when snuggles are needed and that putting band-aids on smooth skin is okay for right now. These moms, they were just born to be moms.
I was born a dragon.
I don't always remember to give my girls baths in a timely manner. I don't remember to cut their fingernails until they leave a scar on my own body. I don't think about cleaning out their ears until they borrow my headphones and I get them back covered in junk. There are days we forget to brush teeth or brush hair or dress for the weather. Snuggling and cradling and rocking and soothing doesn't come naturally to me.
But what I can do is breathe fire. I can roar terrible roars and gnash terrible teeth. I can fly them through the air on my back. I have the ability to leave destruction in my wake.
Because sometimes my children need to take a bath. But sometimes my children need a fighter who will fight for their place in this world.
I'm not always good at the nurturing. I'm learning, slowly, to do this part. But I am very good at advocating for them in this crappy system they were put into. I know when to call a case worker and how to speak to her and how to dig for the supervisor's numbers that no one wants me to have. I know how to not take no for an answer and to get the information I need to advocate for them.
I know the lingo of adoption therapists because I write them down in a notebook and study them like I was about to take a pop quiz. I can spout off all the acronyms of any disorder a kid could be labled with--PTSD, OCD, RAD--because I recite them in my head at night while I lay in bed while everyone else is counting sheep. I can read between the lines of a placement document because I eavesdrop on conversations between case workers.
My dragon claws often want to retract, ready to tear into this kind of information because information is power--the more I know about my kids and their backgrounds the more I'm able to find good therapists, and to know if and when I should tell their teachers the acronyms they're labeled with, and to read between the lines when the foster care reviews come out because information is hard to come by.
I can destroy whole cities with just one step of a foot because someone told me they're not good enough, they're not worth anything. I can take down passersby with my fiery tongue when they begin to tell me how to parent my child in the middle of a sensory tantrum.
I know how to not give up on my kids, that's the thing that comes easiest of all. I can see when their self-esteem needs a boost, when they can't see that who they are is actually amazing. I know how to breathe fire into them when they are convinced they're not good enough. I know how to fly them high in the air when they think they're not worth anything.
I pride myself in being a dragon mama, much to the chagrin of my friends and family. I can embarrass them when I speak too loudly and puffs of smoke escape. I can offend them when my claws clip their shoulder. It gets lonely being a dragon mama. Because while I might be embarrassing or offensive to some, I'm a protector and safe place for my two. My wingspan can provide a great shelter from the outside world, and I'm quick to shade them from the outside when I think it's needed.
But the longer my daughters are in my home, the less they're strangers needing a fierce protector to advocate for them and the more they're just simply my daughters who just happened to get a hard start in life. The more that life goes on the more that hard start in life isn't as easily visible to the outside world and only displays itself at home, where I'm learning, day by day, to fight battles with cuddles and kisses and fake band-aids and cupcakes.
As the days go by my claws aren't retracted as easily, my breath is more of a smolder and my wings usually stay tucked behind me, and I just wait until they're needed again. Maybe for tomorrow. Maybe for another day. Maybe for the next set of kids who needs a dragon mama to protect them.
Caitlin is the founder and creator of Respite Redefined. She is the wife of one and mother of two daughters through adoption from foster care. Caitlin loves to read, to write, and to dream of the places she'll go and the sights she'll see and the new kids she'll one day meet.