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     Today, I went to vote. Now, don't worry... this is certainly not a political blog, as I am (by far) the least qualified person to discuss such a topic! But while I was in line at the polls (for over an hour.... outside, in the frigid weather, without a jacket... catching my death of a cold, I'm sure... playing Words With Friends and Scramble until my icy fingers cramped up and my battery blinked red), there was a family in front of me. A mother, a father, and two little girls, ages 18 months and 3-years-old. They looked just like their mommy. They were beauties... spunky, energetic, full of laughter, playful. Their high-pitched squeals and silly games kept our frozen crowd entertained for the duration of our voting journey.
     As I watched the family engage with one another, I couldn't help but join in... afterall, I was sleepy, cold, hungry, wishing I had peed before leaving work, and my phone was dead... playing with a stranger's children seemed like the best solution for the time being. The mother looked to be about my age and she turned and asked me the oh-so-frequent question: "Do you have kids?"
     Now, I know it sounds ridiculous, but this question always stumps me. The obvious answer is YES.... I have 3 children. But in a way, I feel like I'm cheating when I give that answer. Primarily, I feel nervous to jinx Cameron's adoption by claiming him as "my child" a moment before the judge himself announces Cameron as a Costa. And then with little Isaac, it seems like I'm not allowed to call him mine, especially since we are no where near talking about adoption. Afterall, I could run into this other Mommy 6 months down the road while at the grocery store and she could ask me how my baby is, and what if I have to answer, "Well.... I don't exactly have him anymore....) It's awkward!! The sweet gal was in line, just making friendly conversation, telling me all about her girls and the silly things they do. And then she asked me, "What were your kids like at this age?"
     "Um.... smaller?" (That seemed like a safe, yet completely idiotic answer.) So, I did the only thing I could do.... I made up a story. "Oh, they were just like yours! Tons of energy, fought like cats and dogs.... but don't worry, they'll grow out of it."
     What the heck was I talking about??? For one, I have NO clue what my kids were like at 18 months and 3-years-old. Worse yet, I gave this poor woman false hope that her children would start getting along better at ages 4 and 6?? It's a wonder lightening didn't strike me down right then and there! But I can't explain it... I felt so much better being able to tell this woman, a stranger, that I have 3 children.... and that I have past memories to attach with them.... and the words "foster" or "adoption" never had to leave my lips during just this one conversation. It was refreshing.
     Other awkward moments include the comment: "There's no way you just had a baby! You look fantastic!" Do you have any idea how badly I want to just smile and say "Thanks!"? First of all, I've never in my life been able to claim that "my body just bounced right back" from anything... (unless it was bouncing because I fell down and the fat in my bottom propelled me back up into the upright position). Secondly, it would just be nice to take the compliment and pretend that we are truly a regular family instead of a foster, pre-adoptive, and adoptive family (all 3 of our kids have different status' right now, so it's not exactly an easy explanation!).
     But then there are the moments that I am HAPPY not to claim these little monsters as mine. For instance, if I've got the kids in the store with me and they start running around, screaming like monkeys being freed into the wild, I can just scream at the top of my lungs, "THEY'RE FOSTER KIDS!!! NO NEED TO LOOK AT ME LIKE I'M A BAD MOTHER... THEY CAME TO ME THIS WAY AND I'M JUST AS ANNOYED AS YOU RIGHT NOW!" Or, if they're being exceptionally bad, I can simply walk down another aisle (as we wait for security to come and escort them from the store) and leave them alone with the elderly man in the wheelchair just trying to reach the Raisin Bran... he's a bran-eating, unsuspecting cripple, but he would be a passable "grandfather figure", right?
     Anyways, all this to say... I enjoyed the moment of normalcy this evening. All I did was get in line to vote. But I ended up following a different political path. I plead the 5th... there was no need to give this woman every detail of our familial journey, and it allowed me to revel in the moment of just being a family. I'm grateful for the opportunity to vote... and I'm grateful for the opportunity to just be normal (well, in the family sense, anyways).