Jonathan had other girlfriends before me. Quite a few serious ones actually. Here and there they come up in conversation. And I don’t mind. I think they helped him grow into the man he is now and I surely love that man. But naturally, I’m glad I’m his only now.
We both had loved before we loved each other. As adults we have space for that.
But often our foster kids don’t.
We’ve had kids before them. Other foster kids that aren’t in our home or lives today, but kids we loved and still love.
Sometimes the jealousy comes out in unexpected moments. Months after living here, a child realizes that his bed was slept in by another child before him. And a tantrum ensues.
Questions of loyalty and favorites arise. Demanding sides be taken.
Long before such interrogations were made, we planned to hang photos of all the different kids we cared for over the years. Hoping it would help new kids feel welcome and safe knowing we had parented dozens of other children before them.
But experience has taught us differently. As it often does.
These beautiful children want to feel special and unique. Treasured apart from all the others.
Just as I do.
And so we all learn to balance sharing our former loves and pursuing our new ones. Leaving the past off the walls.
Because tender love grows best without the fear of competition.