This spring, I stood on a stage behind a microphone and willed my voice and hands to stay steady as I read an essay about preparing Ryan to welcome a foster sibling.
I was part of the inaugural cast of the Lehigh Valley’s Listen to Your Mother show, a nationwide show that features writers reading personal essays on motherhood before a live audience. In April, I took to the stage with a dozen other incredibly talented storytellers and read my piece, “Two Car Seats.”
My essay starts this way:
I can pinpoint the exact moment he figured out what a “sibling” is.
We were getting ready to change locations on a play date one afternoon over the summer. Ryan’s new friends, who happen to be brothers, wanted to drive from the pizza place to tumbling class in my car. Ryan, naturally, wanted to go with them in their car.
Their mom and I locked eyes and laughed, happy they were bonding with each other. “I’m sorry,” I told Ryan’s friends. “You guys can’t come with us in our car. We only have one car seat. But I promise, we’ll follow right behind you!”
The jig was up. Ryan heard me and caught on to the fact that Logan and Gavin’s car must have two car seats. He insisted on seeing what such a setup might look like.
I picked him up and let him peer into their SUV as the brothers scrambled into their seats.
“Buuuuut … they have two seats, Mommy,” Ryan said slowly.
“Yes, they do, because there are two of them and they each need a seat to ride safely in the car.”
“Buuuuut … we only have one car seat. We need to get another seat, Mommy! If we get another seat, then we’ll have TWO seats and I can have a friend with me All The Time!”
His hazel eyes grew big and round and sparkly at the idea.
“A sibling,” I sighed. “What you’re asking me for is called a ‘sibling.’”
Four days (FOUR DAYS!) before I stepped onto the stage to read my essay, I sent my castmates a photo and a message that said, “Psssssttt, hey guys, look! Two car seats!”
We had just gotten home from meeting BlueJay for the first time and we were frantically getting our house – and our cars – ready to bring him home with us the next morning.
The timing took the experience from exciting to thrilling. From emotional to surreal. Audience members approached me in the parking lot after the show to peer into my car and count the number of seats in my backseat.
It is a day I will never forget.