Just for today, I’ll love him. Just for today, he is my son.
Hi, I’m Steven. I’m an alcoholic and crystal meth addict in recovery, and I’ve been clean and sober for over fourteen years. In that time, I’ve internalized a lot of the “sober lingo” into my day to day life. When a problem seems overwhelming, I can’t help but think, “First things first. Just start at the beginning and take the first step. This will get done.” When I’m presented with one of life’s many shitstorms, I think, “This too shall pass.” When I’m lauded on social media for some playwriting or acting accomplishment, I think, “This too shall pass.” And when I am overwhelmed by my inability to control the future, I think, “Just for today.”
Just for Today, I won’t drink.
Just for Today, I won’t do drugs.
Just for Today, I’ll choose the next right thing.
My husband Wade and I welcomed a 3-week old infant boy into our homes as our foster son. I’ll call him “S” for the essay because there are a lot of rules around foster care, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. S was born with a lot of drugs in his system, and when he arrived in our care he was still under his birthweight. The woman who took care of him for the first three weeks of his life is a saint of a human being who got him through some of the hardest weeks. And now he’s been with us for seven weeks, and let me tell you, it’s been amazing.
I’ve always been that person who’s good with kids. I don’t speak in babytalk, and I don’t tend to push babies for accomplishments. I’m not one to pour over what need to be reached by the 200th day of life and push the baby like Bela Karolyi pushed poor Kerri Strug. Her ankle was broken!! She should not have done that vault. I mean, did I cry when she did that vault? Yes, I cried, like a baby. Right! The baby. I was talking about the baby. S is, and I say this in a completely unbiased way, the greatest baby that ever babied on the planet. He is beautiful, and he is a genius. He makes each and every day of our lives better by merely smiling and cooing. What he isn’t…is mine.
Wade and I, we can’t make babies ourselves. I don’t mean to blow your minds with science. I’m sure Joe Rogan would have a podcast dedicated to the fact that the science on that is in dispute, but we can’t make babies. So, with that off the table, we have a few options. Obviously, there’s adoption. Let me share something with you all, adoption costs anywhere from thirty to fifty thousand dollars. My husband and I have been very fortunate in this world, and we could swing that money, but the idea of buying a baby…it just didn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s my aversion to late-stage capitalism. Maybe I’m cheap. I don’t know. But the notion of purchasing a baby to raise, it didn’t feel like a viable choice for us, but this isn’t to say it isn’t the right choice for others. Just not for us. Then, there’s surrogacy.
Surrogacy feels…worse? Again, this is not to say it isn’t a good choice for others! But, you have to understand, I love math. And the math of this situation seems clear. My husband and I cannot make a baby together, and there are babies who need care. So, we should show up for those babies. So, that brought us to foster care. We decided we would become licensed foster parents here in southeastern Ohio where we are both attending theatre grad school because we are both Capricorns and thrive on work. So, we did the trainings. We did the interviews. We met with the social workers. We took CPR. We got our license.
Then, we got S. And the thing is…the thing about living in these United States, is that one way or another, you pay. The balance sheet must be satisfied. And although we did not pay a full year’s working-class yearly salary for a baby, we do pay in uncertainty. Every single day, I am monitoring myself. And sometimes I get lost in the self-monitoring. Am I getting too lost in the daydream of adopting S? Am I not getting lost enough in that idea? What will happen to us if
S goes away? How will we cope? Will the grief be too much for us to bear? What if I don’t get to watch him grow up? What if I don’t get to embarrass him by taking too many pictures (or whatever pictures are in the future) of him at the prom? What if I don’t get the chance to say, “Watch it, buddy.” when he becomes a wise-ass teenager? How will I cope with the loss of those moments with this baby whose eyes light up when I talk to him? And then…I breathe. And I remind myself of that thing I learned in recovery. Just for Today. And honestly, just writing out all those questions has caused me some emotional anxiety so, bear with me as I write the antidote to this feeling of not being able to control the future.
Just for Today, I will love this baby boy.
Just for Today, I will keep him safe, and fed, and happy, and growing.
Just for Today, I will play him Nina Simone, Eva Cassidy, and Joni Mitchell.
Just for Today, I will sing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” to him to calm his cries.
Just for Today, I will give him every bit of energy I have left.
Just for Today, I will wake up in the middle of the night and hold him and feed him.
Just for Today, I will tell him that a life in the theatre is a crazy choice.
Just for Today, I will stare into his eyes and smile.
Just for Today, I will watch him enjoy the sunrise over the river in this college town.
Just for Today, he is my (foster) son.
One day, I hope the parenthetical (foster) goes away, and I hope I get to call him my son. But that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because he deserves a safe, happy, warm place to call home. My husband and I have that home. But I also want him to find a home with his mom again and be raised by her. It’s complicated. It’s all so complicated. So, just for today, I will give that to him. And tomorrow? Well, that’s not my problem. Not today anyway.