I didn't really know how to respond to that. I don't think I was complaining. And even if I had been, I'm not sure how I was supposed to reply - "Oh you know what, you're absolutely right, I'll send one of them back shall I?" It's odd, because I thought I was being enthusiastic about the break. And about the fact that Mog was getting better. I ended up saying that having just the two girls was much easier than having had three, but that felt fairly disloyal both to Goldie and to the baby who was my last number three. And then someone else came to say hello, and foot in mouth woman went away
So, for the record, and in case people reading this are also wondering whether I have somehow bitten off more than I can chew, I'd like to say this:
I love my girls. I love caring for my girls, I love being given the chance to parent my girls, and I love my life which has these girls in it. I didn't give birth to these girls, but they are nevertheless my daughters. And I love them with a mother's love.
My girls are fairly substantially disabled. They have complex medical needs. But I don't love them any the less for that; it doesn't mean I somehow consider them to be less human, less lovable. It does mean I spend a lot of time trying to juggle health needs, trying to unpick medical issues and trying to keep on top of things. But, although I don't enjoy seeing the girls unwell or in pain, I do actually quite enjoy teasing out solutions to their problems. It is really satisfying when I can figure out that something as simple as a scarf knotted around the neck will support Mog's head well enough for her to enjoy taking part in life again. It is a marvellous feeling realising that a new medicine is actually doing what it is supposed to do. It's also tiring, frustrating, frightening,and occasionally heartbreaking, when there are things I can't fix, can't change, can't get anyone else to take action about. More than I can chew? No - but definitely enough to make my jaw very strong!
Most of all though, I am a mother. I shouldn't have to explain that to people week after week, year after year. I don't have patients, I don't have charges, I have daughters, I have children. Children who, just like your own children, go to bed at night, go to school during the day, have likes and dislikes, are capable of being naughty and of enjoying a good joke, two small human children.
It is true that Mog has two mothers, and a father, and I am only 1/3rd of her parenting team. But that doesn't make me 1/3rd of a parent; it means she has three parents. If a couple have children, is the mother only half a parent because the father is also present? Little Fish is my adopted daughter, I am her only legal parent, and yet still people talk to me as though I am caring for her on behalf of someone else.
It's not just annoying and sometimes upsetting for me, it's also unsettling for the girls, especially for Little Fish. She is super-clingy at the moment; people querying my ability to parent her are not going to increase her confidence and sense of security.
I am a mother. I'm not some kind of superwoman. The things which upset you also upset me. Watching my child be ill is just as upsetting for me as it is for you. True, I get used to some of the things we deal with every day, but there's a fair amount I deal with with the help of a heavy dose of denial. Don't be taking that away from me unless I ask you to, please! And please do think about how you would feel if someone asked you the questions you ask me.
I'd also like to say this:
We have a good life. Whether it's small, every day things, like doing the washing up or watching the Teletubbies, or bigger things like exciting holidays and fancy sensory equipment, we aim to make the most of life. We aim to live deep, making the most of what we have, where we are, when we can. If Mog only has half an hour when her eyes are open, then Little Fish and I will try to make sure that she has good things to look at in that half hour. If Little Fish can only wiggle freely when she's in the shower then we'll give her a shower whenever she wants one.
Chew on that!