At fifteen, Alice knew she wanted a different life. Her mother was overbearing and very religious, demanding every one attend church. Her mothers world revolved around church. She and her younger sister went to church several times a week. She couldn’t go to he movies, she wasn’t allowed to listen popular music or secular. She had a better relationship with her dad, when see saw him, he had three jobs. He was easier to talk too as long as her mother wasn’t present. The relationship between her mother and father seemed distant, their lives were very different.
In High School, she met a boy and fell in love, the boy played football and very popular in school, however his life was very different than hers. He family was middle class and she had a younger sister. He had eight other siblings who lived with various family members. There was no relationship with his mother or father and he and his two sisters lived with his grandmother in a very small apartment across town. While both her parents worked, his grandmother received aid. He worked part time at a hamburger stand near his grandmothers apartment.
She and her boyfriend were inseparable. Just after her 17th birthday she learned she was pregnant. When she told her mother, her mother demanded that the two marry before the child was born. ‘
They had a son. The couple lived seperatley until he found a better job at a hosptial where they were able to afford a small aparment.
Neither of them was prepared to be a family. She wasn’t prepared to be a mother and he wasn’t prepared to be a husband or a father. Over time their disagreement turn violent. To escape the violence, she spent extra time with her mother, at one point her mother said she should work it out with the father of her son as it was better to have a man then to be a single mother. Her advice to her daughter was to learn not to make him mad.
By the time she was 19, she had two more children a boy and a girl. The violence increased, her husband resented being a young father. She resented being at home with the children while her friends were going out to the movies and dance clubs. Over time the violence subsided,
Her husband was having an affair and rarely home. She didn’t miss him, when they were together there was constant arguing over the simplest of things and the children seemed happier when he was away. The one day she would see him was on Fridays. He dropped money for the family. She had an affair with the clerk at supermarket where she shopped and became pregnant. The man offered her a better life but wasn’t interested in supporting another mans children.
One day she dropped off her three children with her mother and never returned.
The two moved out of state and started a new life. Without getting a divorce from her first husband, she married again. This man did not hit her or raised his voice. In short order, the couple went on to have four children, one after the other. To save money for their own home, they moved in with his mother.
Like her mother, his mother was overbearing. Everything had to have her approval and that included, what she wore and how the children were raised. Her husband never questioned or challenged his mother.
Alice always wanted to go to college. When she told her mother in law she wanted to go to college, her mother in law said no. Her job was to be a mother and a wife. She said her son would never agree to it.
Alice knew her husband would never go against his mother. So she found a job at a local store. She thought with the job and paying her mother in law to watch the children, she might agree. He mother in law refused. A good friend lent her $300 and with the money she was able to pay for the first semester of college and pay for childcare.
One day, her husband asked to speak to her outside. Once outside he slapped her and demanded that she quit school and her job. She refused. Fresh from the slap, mother in law said, he should have put you in your place a long time ago. “You are nothing and if didn’t obey her son ,she and her son would take the children away form her.
Weeks later, she returned from work to find an empty house. Everything was gone including her belongings She stayed at her friend until she was able to find a room to rent near her job. Once a week she would go by the house. Her heart ached for her children, when she called her husbands job, they told her he hadn’t reported to work.
Several weeks later, she walked by the house and looked inside. It was like she had never left everything was in its original place. When she knocked on the door, there was a lot of commotion in the home. When the door finally opened it was her mother in law who gave her a large white envelope and closed the door. She pushed back on the door began knocking loudly she called for her husband and children. Inside she could hear the children crying and calling for her. She ran to the back of the house hoping to find an open door, she tapped on the windows hoping to see one of the children.
As she was running around the house, she ran into a police officer who asked to speak to her in the front of the home. Another officer was talking to her mother in law with her husband standing silent. One of the police officers said, they were told she disappeared after having a mental breakdown and was a danger to the children.
What the officers didn’t know her husband had filed for divorce saying that she abandoned the marriage. They told her she was not to return to the home, if she returned she could be arrested after she. In the envelope was the divorce papers.
The court appointed an attorney to represent her. Her husband had an outside attorney and currently had full custody of the children. She was asking for visitation since she only had a room in someones home. The court awarded her supervision, and on the first outing, her children were quiet. Her oldest child was told she didn’t’ want them, she wanted a new family, the other children started crying as she tried to reassure them, it wasn’t true. Her other daughter began screaming she wanted to go home, the other children started crying. Defeated, she left sobbing and never asked to see the children again.
She finished college with a four year degree. She took a job as representative for a Pharmaceutical company. She quickly went up the ranks and took a job on the west coast. She didn’t contest the divorce and her husband had full custody of their children.
Many years have past without seeing any of her children. Though her friend, her eldest child reached out to her. Alice cried, but what would she say to him? She wrote back to him and said told him she loved him but was unable to meet at this time.
As time past, she thought about her children frequently. She often fantasize about seeing them all together. But they all probably hated her. She could understand their hatred. What kind of mother would abandon her children? And what if she reached out to them? The first husband like the second had probably poisoned their minds, turned the children against her and what could she tell them without offending them and hurting them any further.
She dated, but never seriously, her focus was on her career where she was very successful. She owned a home in Washington and one in Arizona. At 43, she learned she was pregnant. She struggled with the idea keeping the child, she believed she was a terrible mother and she didn’t want to damage the life of another child. However, this time she didn’t know who the father was and no one could take this child away from her and this time she was going to be the best mother in the world to this child.
Her pregnancy was challenging ,she was forced to go on bed rest. The child came into the world healthy . She took a less demanding job, with the company so she could dedicate her time with her daughter. In her forties, not only was she a different person she was a different parent. Over time her daughter wanted to know about her father, she kept it real and said, she didn’t know.
Through the years her daughter became angry and resentful , if she had a dad, she might have a sister or a brother. The anger grew intense through the years and one day without warning, she told her daughter, she had brothers and sisters. This enraged her daughter who now demanded to meet them.
One day, she sat her fourteen year old daughter down and told her the full story. How she abandoned her first three children and how her other four children were taken away from her.
The fighting ended between to two of them. The two rarely spoke. Her daughter said when she turned eighteen, she would move away from her mother and probably never see her again. Her daughter was a straight A student and had two jobs. She saved her money and was determined to be free of mother in every way.
Meanwhile she wanted to meet her siblings. She demanded that her mother did whatever it took to contact her siblings. For the first time she was forced to face her life. Her daughter didn’t care if her siblings hated her mother. After all could you blame them?
Her mother slowly drifted into a deep depression. She was overwhelmed with a reality that she placed somewhere. She was unable to work and sought help. The home in Washington was sold and they relocated to Arizona permanently. The move was especially difficult on her daughter who was more determined than ever to separate herself from her mother.
Alice’s therapist told her she would eventually need to meet with all of her children, One child at a time for her life to move forward. She would told to simply listen with no expectations of a relationship. She needed to know how her actions affected her children .
She first reached out to her eldest who was now in his late thirties. He did not respond to her letter. She wrote him again and ask if he would give her number to his brother and sister.
With the help of an investigator she located two of her children with her second husband.
Two her surprise, her youngest daughter with her second husband called her and said she wanted to meet her. Through the younger daughter she was able to reach out to her other children she hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years.
She flew her daughter out to Arizona, on route to her home, her daughter asked her for ten thousand dollars. She needed the money because she had fallen on hard times. When she said she didnt have it, because she too had fallen on hard times, her daughter demand that she’d be taken back to the airport, after all she owed her this for what she did to her and that she would never see her other siblings and her grandchildren.
Over time she did see some of her children. All where curious, and all were angry and hurt. Some of the anger manifested into rage, and this rage effected their relationships with the men/women and children in their lives.
Some of the children had alcohol and drug issues. A lot of her children simply learned to live without her. They attached themselves to mother figures, aunts, grandmothers, mothers of friends. Some where no longer angry. others were enraged. Some despite their successes in life had abandonment issues.
Her youngest child successfully met most of her siblings. Some resented the relationship she had with their mother. Others greeted her with open arms. The youngest kept her promise, she moved away from Arizona and started a new life in Chicago without her mother. His hurt her mother deeply. Despite the issues between them, this was the one constant relationship in her life.
Twelve years has gone by. A child wanting to see his grandmother reconnect them. Her mother, now in her seventies is different, shes frail but stronger. Other siblings now in their forties and fifty have connected with their mother. Their relationship are friendly and cautious.
Some of the siblings resent the other sibling who are contact with the mother. They feel what their mother did was unconscionable. After all a mother fights for her children, she didn’t. it didn’t matter is she was embarrassed and guilt ridden, she is the mother, it her her duty to find her children!
In my opinion, the mother was awful and self centered. She abandoned three small children and didn’t fight for four others.
We will never know why, she did what she did. If I were one of her children, would anything she said would be acceptable? I don’t know?
As we grow older we learn the world is less black and white and more grey. Some of us can look back at our lives, and look at the mistakes we made. None of our lives unfolded as planned. We have misspoke, been self centered at times and over time we become are less judgmental and possibly more forgiving. Possibly because we were able to look at our own shortcomings. Perfection is a myth, if you are a parent your children are often mirrors. You want to look away, but you cant.
Most of us survive horrific moments in our lives. Some of us take longer to heal. Other choose not to heal, to move forward, for some reason they need to relive the event.
There are many who believe it isn’t healthy to hold on to anger. After it is history, that can never change. Some of us as painful as it was can chalk it up as a lesson. However some of us need the anger and resentment. Need to relive the hurt. Hopefully in time that person might choose to examine the anger and its importance. The question is how do I benefit from the anger?
There is an assumption that the perpetrator is without,guilt or shame. The reality is most are. They live with the guilt of their misdeeds, often for a lifetime.
I suspect the children who forgave their mother are living healthier lives. It is a nearly impossible hurdle and I’m sure it took time and reflection to get over that hurdle. Its quite possible they have children and like most of us made mistakes rearing their children.
Forgiveness is possible, if its something you want.