You know that feeling when you've read a blog's entire archive, become so caught up in the story that you've been not only thinking but dreaming about it, and then suddenly you've caught up and you feel bereft and unsatisfied? "What do you mean, I have to wait for more? Quick, live your life so I can read about it!"
Rebecca has been blogging at Fosterhood for three years and I just finished reading all 185 pages. She's a very unusual foster parent: young, single, highly educated, working full-time. (This is not based on my prejudices, I have no preconceived ideas about foster parents; I am comparing her to the statistics on FPs in New York.) I think what makes this blog so amazing is that it isn't full of posts about how blessed she feels and how she's responding to a Calling. She writes very honestly about her experiences, the good and the bad. She writes about feeling overwhelmed, she examines her motivations for foster parenting, and she is perceptive about the changes she undergoes.
Being 36 weeks pregnant, it's been making me think a lot about my situation and my baby. I don't know how coherent (or how interesting) these thoughts are but I wanted to get them down anyway...
First of all, it's increased my understanding of my own privilege (something I'd like to think I'm savvy about but I could always use reminding about). Many factors including my skin colour, education level and family structure mean that I have a level of support that many women could only dream of. Even when institutional/governmental support is available to people, the ability to a) find out about it, b) access it and c) advocate for one's self is not universal. I have literacy, unlimited internet access, an understanding of formal and institutional language. I have confidence in using government agencies because I don't have a history of being in trouble with them. My privilege allows me to see myself as a taxpayer and citizen who has a right to assistance.
It's also made me think about my baby's level of privilege. In fact, ever since I found out I was having a boy it's been in the back of my mind. This white, male child of a heterosexual, cisgendered married couple, both of whom have stable jobs and supportive families, will have chances and choices other children will never know.
Finally, it's made me realise how easy it is as a new/prospective parent to get sucked into the rabbit hole of doing everything perfectly. You can spend days researching the best BPA-free, shatter-proof bottles (for your pumped breast milk, of course) and still feel inadequate. When I start to get crazy over this stuff, I need to remind myself, "My baby is warm, fed and loved. I am doing great." I also need to remember (again) that I am in a position of immense privilege that allows me to obsess over stupid shit instead of how I'm going to pay my bills, where my child and I will be sleeping tonight, how to avoid abusive family members, etc.
Like many people, I've said in the past words to the effect of "I could never foster a child! It would be way to hard emotionally." Rebecca's blog has made me re-examine this statement and realise that the truth is, I choose not to foster a child, even though I am capable of it, because it would be hard. It's hard for everyone. I don't think I'm a terrible person for that choice, but no matter how difficult raising a child is going to be (and I know it will be very, very hard at times), I hope I can keep some of this perspective and remember how fortunate we are.