This post is not about becoming a mother in the traditional way, though that is the eventual goal. Jon and I have always wanted to have kids, and we still do. For many reasons, we decided to do something a little non-traditional before becoming parents
I've always believed that you can be a mother without ever having to give birth. Though that, and adoption, are more traditional ways of being a mother, you can be a mother to people who are not your actual children. My last post, about being a teacher, is just one example. I feel very motherly towards my students, so much that I usually refer to them as "my kids" and their parents as "my parents." I also work with the youth in our church (ages 12-18), and I used to work with the primary aged children (4-12), and have felt like a mother to many of them in some capacity. My mother-in-law can never replace the woman who raised me; my mommy. But, she DID raise my husband to be a wonderful man, and has treated me as her own daughter for the last 5 years of our marriage (and even before we were married) and I call her "mom" not Brenda. My sister, Courtney, has also been a sort of mother to me, as I was a newly wed and trying to figure all this wife stuff out, she helped me tremendously in teaching me how to be a wife, and what to expect from marriage. My friends' mothers who have been involved in my life also deserve a shout out, my teachers from elementary school on up to college, and my colleagues at work, who have helped me find my role as a teacher, mentored me, and bought me chocolate. All women are mothers. We have this in our nature; it's a part of us. If you haven't actually had a child, you can be a mother. So I think of myself as a mother, too.
Nevertheless, nothing could have prepared me for the last year. Jon and I decided to skip the baby years, the toddler years, and all the years in between and try to raise a teenager. :) We decided to become host parents to a foreign exchange student from The Netherlands in July of 2012. We looked through lots of profiles, and found it very difficult to choose who would become our daughter. But we found her, and I'll never regret that decision. She arrived at the end of that month, and we were so excited to have her here!
Charlotte's Arrival - July 2012
Derby Hats - Kentucky Derby Party - Spring 2013
It is a difficult thing to open up your home to someone you've never met before. It can be trying, for you and for the other person. Trying to mesh two different cultures, styles, habits and quirks is a lot like getting married again. It's a shock at first, but you learn to get along, learn how to interact with each other, and become family. Our family, will certainly never be the same again.
Fried Oreos - Kansas State Fair - September 2012
Fun in the Snow - Snow Days - Winter 2013
I hope she looks at Wichita, Kansas as her second home, and as a place she is always welcome. I hope she remembers all the fun we had, and the tears we cried together.
Scary Ride - Kansas State Fair - September 2012
I know I was not a perfect mom. In fact, I was pretty terrible at it. I tried really hard, though. I tried to make the right decisions. I worried about her and prayed for her and wanted her to succeed. I know I could have done a better job, but I think that recognizing our weaknesses can only make us stronger.
Boulder, CO - Winter 2012
One of the best things about welcoming another person into your home is that you get to learn so much about another culture, another language, and another people. Meeting Charlotte's family was amazing. Talking with them about their daughter, sharing experiences and insights, and creating lifelong friendships was just an incredible experience, especially when we got to visit them in The Netherlands this summer.
Red Lobster - Meet the Parents - Spring Break 2013
And watching my host daughter graduate from high school was just the icing on the cake. I'm proud of her accomplishments and achievements, I'm proud of how much she has grown over the last year, and I'm proud to be her host mom.
Charlotte's Graduation - May 2013
I'll never forget my experience this past year. I've grown so much! I've grown to appreciate my own mother, as well as appreciate my husband and of course this special person who jumped into our lives one year ago. You'll always be a Hummer, Charlie. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Family Pictures - Spring 2013
So here's to a new year, a new experience, and another shot at being a mom. This year will be different, not better or worse, just different. We miss you so much Charlotte. We can't really express how amazing it was to have you with us this last year. Thank you for taking a chance, and being our host daughter. We love you.