Over the past few weeks, we have some new experiences ourselves that we have shared together with our foster girls.
Instead of packing up the 6 of us and heading out for a long vacation, we decided to get a season pass for us all so we can go to the water park together on the weekends. For the first time, we took our girls to the water park and I assumed they have been to one before. Little did I know that they have never been down a waterslide or visited a water park before. When Olivia asked me “why is there water on the slide?” it was a clue that she wasn’t familiar with a waterslide. I explained it to her and expected her to be a bit cautious. Boy, was I wrong! Before I barely had time to explain why there was water on the waterslide she was taking off and running up the steps to go down one of the steepest waterslides. She giggled the whole way down and screamed with joy. It was then, at that moment, I realized this was one of those first moments I was experiencing with her.
Another first time moment Olivia and I had was attending a classmate’s birthday party. With my biological children, we attend birthday parties at least quarterly and they enjoy it. However, this is something new for Olivia. She has had her own birthday party before from what I can tell by viewing her biological photographs but she shared with me she had never attended a friends’ birthday party before. As with any child, she was counting down the days until Elizabeth’s 4th birthday party. We went over birthday etiquette and our manners as we pulled into the parking lot of the birthday event. We arrived to the birthday party and she had so much fun seeing her friends from preschool and she received lots of compliments from the parents attending the birthday party. She was most amazed that she got a present herself, a goodie bag. She still holds that first goodie bag so close to her. She even took it to sleep with her that night.
I have learned that while I missed the girls’ first baby steps, cutting their first tooth, first hair cut, there are some things I still get to experience even while I am their foster mom that are just as important to me as it is to them. Not to mention, I document it all. I have collected over 600 photographs and videos of the girls I share with their biological family members. I want to do all that I can to give them new and exciting experiences that will help build a foundation of hope and love they can take with them forever even if it is for six months or three years in which I am caring for them.
For tomorrow isn’t promised, making today count is our family motto!
What is your most cherished first moment with your child?
Christy Benson is director of Clinical Informatics Analysis & Measurement for Texas Health Resources and Mom of four (two biological and two foster children).