Claire's Story: Do Moms Just Figure Things Out?
Part 5, Chapter 1 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack
Claire wakes up from her four-hour nap and feels less tired. Mrs. Carson is rocking Davy to sleep. It will be her turn in a minute. Claire has been dreaming about the three steps Mrs. Carson practiced with her. She had this idea that the family goldfish always looked so calm. She was standing in the living room, staring at the fish.
It looks so calm. Maybe, I can do the “remind yourself to stay calm” if I try to imagine I am this fish?
Mrs. Carson walks up to her and asks what she is doing. Claire tells her she is practicing the “remind yourself to be calm step.” Mrs. Carson smiles at her and gives her a kiss on the cheek. Claire blushes and looks up at her for a moment before looking down. Mrs. Carson goes to her bedroom to sleep.
Claire walks into Davy’s room and decides she will practice deep breathing while he sleeps. She thinks she is learning a lot of good stuff from www.zerotothree.org that makes her feel better; Davy isn’t bad, he is just a typical crabby premature baby. He is crying a lot because the outside world is just so much harder to deal with than the world he started with in her body. She sighed for a moment. Her body was good for something; it was not a waste of space. Her body had provided just the right temperature for Davy to feel comfortable while he was developing inside her. Now, in the world Davy was having trouble keeping warm because he could not generate much of his own heat. Could Davy be crying sometimes just because he gets cold each time she takes him from under his blanket or away from her body to change his wet diaper?
Claire had asked Mrs. Carson’s advice about how to handle this situation. Mrs. Carson had taken Claire and Davy back to the maternity ward at the hospital to visit the Nurse Karin that Claire was always talking about. Claire tells Nurse Karin what she has learned about premature babies having trouble keeping warm. Nurse Karin showed Claire and Mrs. Carson how to provide Kangaroo Mother Care. This kind of care involves keeping Davy pressed directly against her skin, usually on her chest, for as long as she is able, day and night; she would actually be sharing her body heat with Davy so he wouldn’t feel cold. Claire and Mrs. Carson both practice this, while getting advice from Nurse Karin.
On the trip home in the car, Claire was so happy and excited. She forgot herself and said out loud,
Maybe Davy doesn’t hate me. He just cries a lot because he is cold.
Mrs. Carson was shocked by Claire’s comment. “Of course, Davy doesn’t hate you Claire. You are his mother. He loves you!” Claire looked at her in surprise. “Are you sure Mrs. Carson?” “Yes dear, Davy loves you just like my kids loved me.”
Claire went into the most pleasant daydream. In it Davy could talk and told her she was his special mommy and he loved her. Nurse Karin was also telling her again how when Davy had been developing inside her, he slowly began to be able to hear her the sounds inside her body; her heartbeat had had become familiar to him before he was even born; now, hearing it could help calm him down.
Her body was not a waste of space. Just the sound of her heart could help calm Davy down!
Claire looked down at Davy, asleep in her arms. Her parents had called her stupid. But, both the Carsons and Nurse Karin thought she was learning great things from the Zero to Three website. Maybe her parents were wrong, and they were right? Maybe she wasn’t stupid!
Is Claire fooling herself? Could a website really help someone be a good mom?
To learn more about the practice and benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care for yourself, check out http://www.kangaroomothercare.com
Claire's Story: Do Moms Just Figure Things Out?
Part 5, Chapter 2 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack
It is hard being a mother. One minute Davy seems to love me, and the next he screams so loud that his face gets red and he looks like my dad does when he is about to beat me.
Claire wants to just follow the advice of the 30-little-ways-to bond article. It told her that it wasn’t whether she was “loveable” or not. It was if she was “responsive to Davy” so he learned to be “responsive to her”. If she picked Davy up when he cried, even if she couldn’t figure out why he was crying, she was being a responsive parent and Davy would respond to her in return; this back and forth between them was what led to a strong mother –son bond. Claire is excited by the idea that what she does has an impact on Davy’s feelings for her. He would always love her as long as she was responsive to him!
The Carsons are pleased that Claire has taken their advice and begun taking Davy for walks around their back yard, so she isn’t inside all the time. They are also all taking turns reading stories to Davy after dinner and this has been a very relaxing way to end the day. But while Claire doesn’t have crying jags anymore, she still swings back and forth between feeling overwhelmed and feeling excited; the Carsons find her extreme moods are really tiring them out.
Things don’t blow up because caseworker Alexandra stays in close touch with them. Having her to talk to keeps the Carsons’ stress down. They keep feeling inadequate because Claire needs so much more from them then their own children did. Alexandra reminds them that It is okay to do not have all the answers. Alexandra tells them that they have already given Claire more support than she has ever had in her life.
Until moving in with them, Claire had never lived in a safe, caring home. When they think about it, they realize Claire has given them many indications of how much their home means to them. She is always gently holding their possessions and telling them how beautiful everything is. When they gave her a framed picture of herself holding Davy on her birthday, she had burst into tears and held the picture to her chest saying it was the most wonderful gift in the world.
Claire loves living in the Carsons’ house and walking around their backyard; everything looks so nice- nothing is broken. She has begun to help out by doing the dishes and vacuuming the carpets. Unlike her parents, the Carsons always smile at her and tell her what a big help she is; living with them is like a fairy tale come true.
The Carsons have become very attached to Claire and Davy. They are never lonely anymore and it gives them joy to watch Claire and Davy growing up and knowing they are needed. But it isn’t a fairy tale for them. Sometimes they talk to their children about how hard it is to “raise” Claire and Davy. Their children don’t understand why they are doing this to begin with. They should just be taking it easy during their senior years. That is not what the Carsons want. Many other seniors are like them, they want to do something meaningful with their days.
Claire asks the Carsons after dinner why they took her in? They said they were considering fostering a young child but then came across a video on the internet. They watched it again, this time with Claire and Davy.
Claire hugs Mr. And Mrs. Carson, and hold Davy up their faces and tells him to give them a kiss; he doesn’t know how to kiss yet but he leaves a wet spot and smiles. Claire tells them she has never been happier in her life and doesn’t know what would have happened to her if they hadn’t taken her in.
Claire was very lucky the Carsons were available to help her. In 2012, over 58,000 children were unable to be placed in foster homes because none were available—the need is great, especially for older children.
Do you know anyone who wants to do more meaningful with their life?
Consider watching the YouTube video with them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=Mtc2Yh4QOwE
You might be helping to save a Claire and Davy.
Claire's Story: Do Moms Just Figure Things Out?
Part 5, Chapter 3 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack
My life is so much better because the Carsons took me in. What if they could get someone to take in Larry? He really needed help, his parents were even scarier than hers.
Claire got so excited watching the video her mind was racing. Larry’s parents had beaten his back raw with daily beatings. He had missed a lot of school because he couldn’t put on a shirt. When he turned 14, the beatings finally stopped when he grabbed the whip from his dad and fought back. Since then, there was an uneasy truce in the house, they let him live in their basement and take food out of the refrigerator, but he was not allowed upstairs for any other reason and they called him every foul word that had ever been invented.
Larry had never directly told Claire about this; he wasn’t much of a talker. However, when they took their clothes off, she could see the scars and welts on his back; she knew what caused these – she had a few herself. However, once when stroking his neck, she had felt some strange marks she couldn’t identify. At first when she asked him about it, he just grunted. But, as she sat silently waiting, he finally told her that when he was little, his dad would put the stub of his cigarette out on the back of his neck to teach him who was the boss.
Claire hadn’t told the Carsons anything about Davy’s dad. Larry was private about his life and would be furious if he found out she had told the Carson’s anything. But maybe if she told them just a little of what Larry had gone through, they would help him find a foster home. If he got the kind of help, she was getting, maybe he would want to marry her and be a good father to Davy. Claire decided to start small, she asked them if any of their friends might want to become foster parents?
The Carsons didn’t know what to say. Their friends had all met Claire and Davy and they did envy the fact that the Carsons weren’t lonely any more. But all their friends were retired and living on fixed incomes. The money Ms. Alexandra gave them as a stipend for taking care of Davy and Claire didn’t cover much. While there was a local doctor who was on contract to provide Claire and Davy with medical care, the Carsons had been shocked at how quickly Claire and Davy were ushered in and ushered out by the nurse and doctor. When they had tried ask a question about Davy’s immunization shot for Davy, the doctor had told her he didn’t have time for chit chat.
After that visit, the Carsons brought Claire and Davy to the pediatrician they had used. Ms. Alexandra did her best, but she didn’t have the budget to cover the difference in cost between this pediatrician and the one they had a contract with; the Carsons decided they would just cover the rest of the cost themselves. The Carsons also covered extra costs like buying books for Claire to read Davy and subscribing to the parenting magazine Claire liked. It was amazing how these few extra costs added up. They had started shorting themselves on their medicine to have enough money to cover the bills.
The Carsons’ friends had all met Claire and Davy and had envied the Carsons having company all the time. They admitted being lonely and bored at times. However, once they learned about the Carsons money problems, the envy ended; in retirement their greatest fear was running out of money.
The Carsons didn’t want Claire to feel bad so they hid from her their problems paying all the bills. Caseworker Alexandra didn’t know they were sacrificing their own medical needs either. She did know it was a miracle she had found the Carsons for Claire and Davy. There were a lot of rules around “who” could be a foster parent, and this made it more difficult to find families, particularly for teens who could be harder to care for. It was so frustrating that there were parents out there for teens that she thought would be great but the rules...
There is a bill that would prevent discriminatory practices in selecting foster parents. What might happen if instead of sitting around gathering dust, the bill was presented for a vote and passed into law? Could you or someone else you know spread the word about the need for more foster parents? Do you think single people should be allowed to be foster parents? What about gay couples?
What do you think of it? Would you support it?
If you follow the link below, you can find a proposed bill related to allowing more people to become foster parents if they have the skills and resources to offer a safe home and caring support: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2640
For additional tips for ways to support foster families, like helping them get more family and friend support visit: https://www.mightymoms.club/support-foster-parents/