By Holly Blair
I am a foster mum, and a stepmum, but as people often tell me, because I am not a ‘real mum’ I still don’t get it. What don’t I get? What I don’t get are the two most commonly heard lines about parenting – being a parent is the most important job in the world, and being a parent is the hardest job in the world.
Well, the first controversial statement, I am not really going to go into except to say that it may be true if you are a parent, but for people who are not parents yet it is not encouraging to hear that you don’t qualify for the “most important job” and that people with kids are somehow making the world a better place than people without. This does seem to be a popular belief as many parents I have met act like raising their own child is something akin to curing cancer, a saintly act worthy of much praise, and wonder at you expecting them to have time for anything other than parenting, or get annoyed at you for trying to engage them in any other topic of conversation other than their little darlings.
The second controversial statement however, is the topic of this diatribe. Before looking after kids as a foster or step-parent, I had for so long heard about how hard it was that I was nearly put off. Especially when it comes to fostering, as I had been a social worker and had heard for years from our foster parents how hard it was, and how much gratitude they deserved. Sadly I had met many people who had considered fostering but had been put off by how difficult and scary people said it was. Even though the need for fostering is very great in New Zealand, many are put off by fear.
What I have found in my experience, once I did get over my misgivings and started fostering, was that it was extremely fun and rewarding, and totally amazing. My husband and I got so much out of it. And guess what? It was easy! We were given sibling groups, babies, toddlers, older kids, and loved and enjoyed each one. Even when there were challenging moments, it was nothing to complain about, nothing to use to gain sympathy from others, and certainly nothing to use to scare others! Anyone considering fostering, I would heartily 100% recommend it.
I referred to the above statements as controversial, because one day on a maternal whim I posted on Facebook something like “Who says being a parent is the hardest job in the world? I’ve got three pre-schoolers at home, I study full time, and I just aced an Economics exam. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy” (I know, not the wisest thing to say, ha-ha). If I had known the havoc that the communication would wreak I never would have done it. Twenty-four hours later I had over 50 likes, and nearly 20 comments – varying from Shame on us who find it hard, to various statements about how I must be superwoman, to You’re not really a parent anyway, just a glorified babysitter, to a heated debate over the evils of daycare.