Yep, that's me.
A lot has happened since my last blog post.
On an unsuspecting Monday at the end of November, I got a phone call. And 90 minutes later, I became a mom.Specifically, a foster mom.
That was Mile 5,708.
For nearly 4 months and 400 miles, I've been debating how to write this post. How to find the time to write it, of course. But also how to share one of the most intimate (and mile-worthy) experiences of my life in a way that maintains the privacy of an 8-year-old girl. A child who never asked to be part of this journey.
No small feat (or feet!) for a Robot Mom.
She is small but strong. Her khakis have been shortened with scissors, her bangs are overgrown, and her eyebrows don't yet reach the desktop in the school office.
"It's my first foster mom with a robot leg!" she announces loudly, and proudly, to the school secretary.
"It's true," I add. She has a reputation for telling stories, so I make it clear this isn't one of them.
We've gotten up, dressed, and out of the apartment. We've even located her school, which was unexpectedly 9 blocks away from the address I'd received. And now we're in the office, updating her emergency contact forms. 8 AM and all is well.
We have known each other for 18 hours.
In the next 40 miles, leg talk turns to Legos. Homework gets done. Chicken nuggets sizzle in the toaster oven. Disney lyrics lodge in my brain.
A hundred miles later, we celebrate Christmas together. Then Valentine's Day. Then St. Patty's Day.
Along the way, we take walks. In the mornings, I get coffee and she gets a banana. In the evenings, we stop for pizza.
She meets my family and friends, awarding nicknames to those she loves best. My dad is "Pops." Uncle Mark is "Funcle." (Get it? Fun + Uncle!) Neighbors Donna and Mike are "Peaches and Manny," Jasmine is "JJ," and Jen is "Sparkle."
Over time I become "Mom."
And she even chooses the perfect nickname for herself: "Rainbow."
(This makes blogging easier!)
As for me, the miles carry small accomplishments. Like stepping across a carpet littered with Barbies or changing the sheets on her bunk bed. (Putting sheets on a bunk bed could be a blog post all its own!)
There are times I feel inadequate, though. Like when my knee collapsed as she jumped into my arms, pulling us both to the floor with her enthusiasm and weight. Or on a snow day when I'm not steady enough to take her outside to play.
|We built a "day after" snowman instead!|
I'm not the first amputee to be a parent or even a single parent. It's just the first time for me. And I'm learning as I go. For all the demands of motherhood (temporary or not), amputee rules still apply:
Pacing is everything.
Hope for good leg days.
The inner liner is made of a material called SiOCX. It's softer, with customized padding on pressure spots, allowing for an easier break-in period.
Because in the life of a Robot Mom, a new socket is a minor event.
Rainbow wants to walk to the toy store, "Pleeeeaazzze!" She's earned 10 stickers for sleeping through the night and has saved up a pocketful of quarters from making her bed. An errand of this importance should not be left up to socket design. Even a second grader knows that.
I wear my leg for 16 hours each day, and fall into bed exhausted each night. By 9 PM, I am not sure I can do this again tomorrow. But the next morning, when my alarm goes off at 5:15, I do it anyway.
Getting out of bed is anything but robotic.
My goal as a writer has always been to share the story honestly. Yet I worried about how to share this part of it, balancing the openness it deserves with the confidentiality it demands.
And then I realized, it's not about her. (Although everything else is!) This post is about me.
It's about accepting this next chapter -- and all its ups and downs -- with love, grit, and maybe even grace. Do we ever do anything perfectly? Do we ever know if we made the right choices? Can we ever predict what the next few miles will hold?
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Rainbow perches on a dining room chair. She's barefoot, in pink patterned leggings and a shirt that doesn't match. Pencil and notepad in hand, she's composing a newscast.
When she has a full page of notes, she calls me over. An aspiring YouTuber, she wants to make a video. So I cue up my phone. She sits, prim and proper, at the table and begins reporting the day's news.
"It is raining today," she starts. "It is not good to go for a walk."
No argument there.
She pauses authentically, makes eye contact with the camera. Or maybe with me. Then, in her best newscaster voice, she presents the next story.
|"My mom likes to write."|
It comes out of nowhere and takes me by surprise. Partly because it's an unlikely segue from the weather, but mostly because she is eerily perceptive.
In our time together, she has never seen me write more than a shopping list or a note to her teacher. So why include this in her newscast? Why now?
Maybe it's just a coincidence. She knows how to spell "mom," and "write" is a word from last week's spelling list.
Or maybe it's a sign.
I've spent the last 400 miles trying to be a good mom. Maybe she knows me better than I think.
Rainbow and Robot Mom.
I'm not sure how long we'll be together, but I know there will be more adventures ahead!