What Kind Of Mother IS She?

by farrah on March 23, 2012 · 16 comments

Something interesting happened to me today. Usually I go along on my merry way throughout the morning- making my decisions about everything from bananas or blueberries to shorts or pants. For the kids. Not for me. So today I was posed with an opportunity to make a decision and judge a party not even remotely near my life- with the worst kind of insult. To label her a ‘bad mother’. I am not going to sit here and pat myself on the back and say how proud I am of not doing so, because I kind of did.  But then I thought long and hard about what that meant- being a ‘bad mother’.

To back this up, a lady was coming to my house to buy a couple of high chairs. Usually Craigslist transactions bring out the flakiest of people- so I braced myself for a no show or a run around. I’ll admit I flaked out on one yesterday myself (but did redeem myself today) so there. Anyhow- the lady arrived and I showed her the chairs. As we broke them down to fit them in her car she began to tell me why she needed them.

She said her great grandchildren recently came into her care. She said that the mama ‘Just decided that she didn’t want to be a mama anymore’,  sold all of the kids stuff and split. Her grandson then packed up the boys (ages 3 years and 6 months) and moved them down to live with her and she was going to take care of them while he worked.

My response was immediate. Through my mind went ‘WHO DOES THAT!’ and ‘WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WAS SHE?!’ ‘OMG, LEAVE YOUR KIDS?’ I even said aloud to the woman “How can anyone do that?’ She told me that she had nothing for the boys so I promised her that I would find some clothes and threw a box of toys together with The Three crying in my wake. How could someone abandon her small children? How?

Well- as soon as she  left I ran the story back over through my mind. First, I don’t know what really happened. I was getting an account from someone who was obviously taking one side. Second…I don’t know her. I don’t know how old she is. I don’t know if she had PPD. I don’t know if she had a drug problem. I don’t know if the dad was cheating on her, abusing her, whatever. The lady could have even been playing on my sympathy and scamming me-I have no idea. So how DARE I make this assumption.

Furthermore- who am I to judge who or what makes a good mother? Based on my own mothering? I have recently experienced a doubt in myself and my own abilities as of late- and didn’t exactly like what it all boiled down to. Yes, I love my children and I try to do what is always best for them- but why? Why do I do those things? What really makes me a good mother? Have I always been one? How dare I judge this woman who I don’t even know if the story was true! And if it was- WHY DO I LOOK DOWN ON HER? Shame on me.

Anyhow. So this is what is plaguing my thoughts this afternoon and keeping me awake instead of napping. I feel bad for judging this woman. To you nameless woman:  I’m sorry- and I don’t know your story. Whatever the reasons why you did what you did- they were your own and no one has the right to say or think otherwise. Including me.

Sacrificing for your family isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be easy- and if it is’t catching up with you now, it will. Be kind to yourself. Good luck.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Freckleberry Mom March 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Man. I can’t even imagine what it would take to have to come to a decision like that.

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2 farrah March 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Kind of like the ultimate question, eh? It scares me because I think we can surprise ourselves when faced with things we never thought we’d be faced with. If it’s all just because she’s a kid- I can only imaging the regret she will be feeling in the years ahead.

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3 Kristen March 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I’m sorry you couldn’t nap but it is good that it wasn’t wasted time either. It takes a lot to not judge and to try to see things through a different perspective. I know I’ve had to stop myself a few times and have felt a lot better after doing so. You may not have rested your body but you definitely gave rest to your heart.

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4 farrah March 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm

That really is a good way of looking at it. And I’m lucky- I can nap any day.
I think if I haven’t been faced with my own challenges I would not be so generous to her. I think it’s the road of experience maybe. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

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5 Cara D March 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

It really is so easy for all of us to pass judgment on people who we don’t know, don’t understand or can’t identify with. It’s hard to understand but I think you’re totally right that a lack of understanding doesn’t entitle us to judgment. You’re a good egg, Farrah.

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6 farrah March 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Not always, but I try! xoxox

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7 Kate March 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Farrah,
This made me weep, long, hard, hurtful heaving sobs. That mother was me, years ago, after the death of my marriage and then my mother. I tried desperately to cling to life. To be a good mom. I ADORE my sons, but I wasn’t a very nice person to be around most days. I was struggling. I was hurt. I was lost. I put my ex-husband through college. I put him first for years. He was my high school sweetheart and he abandoned me emotionally when I needed him most. My mother’s death was extremely difficult. She was my best friend. She was a HUGE part of my life. I spoke to her everyday. She helped me be the type of mother I always wanted to be. I watched her die a slow, painful, agonizing death from cancer. It ripped me apart in places I can never repair. I thought I could find healing in being an even better mom, but when I looked at my sons I ached all over. I didn’t want to be their mom anymore because I just didn’t know how. I cried, I screamed, I begged God to let me die because I hurt so bad without my mom. I didn’t want to hurt my sons, but I honestly believed they were so much better off without me. I sold all my belongings and decided I would just travel for a year and return. I promised to keep in touch with my boys and told them I loved them more than anything, but I needed to go away for a while to heal my heart. That was in December of 2003. After just two months I couldn’t take it and returned home, but the damage was done and my ex-husband went from being an understanding individual who supported me leaving to being a complete and udder ass. He told me I was no longer their mother and his new girlfriend took my place. I left again. Feeling more hopeless and out of control. My boyfriend at the time showed his true abusive colors but because I now felt it was my punishment and I chose to stay with him for five years I jumped through hoops and changed everything to please him. I even altered my name because he wanted me to. I always kept in contact with my sons. I called, I emailed, I sent them things. I cried each and everyday because my heart was no longer whole without them in it. I struggled to find my way and FINALLY broke my silence about the abuse. After several cross country moves, arrests, charges pressed, and many emotional scars. I am reunited with my sons. I am remarried and we now have a daughter, who is a year old today. My boys have forgiven me. They still live with their dad (who is still a jerk to me) and will never understand why I chose to do what I did for so long. He still holds it over my head and tells me I have no right to be a mom to my sons or even to my new child. It has taken a long time to forgive myself. But I know that I am a good mom, despite my poor choices in the past. I would never physically harm my children and I know that the emotional scars may still take far more time to heal, but everyday I have to live with it and make a choice to let it go and move forward. As a mom. As their mom. As a good mom. No matter who chooses to judge me. Sorry this is so damn long. I guess I just used your blog to tell a bit of my secrets and story.

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8 farrah March 24, 2012 at 12:36 am

I’m so sorry for everything that you have been through. I can only hope and think that your boys will (if they don’t already) understand and love you for what you did for them. You sacrificed for them- you really and truly did. An awful situation where you made a choice for the betterment of your family- and you’re right- on paper someone might not understand and judge- but who are they? How do they know? How COULD they know? The things that you experienced are so painful and awful- I don’t think many would survive it. I’m so glad you were able to get that out- I appreciate you and think that you are an awesome mother. You have made a huge sacrifice and I can only hope that they see this. You’re a brave lady and I am glad that I know you.

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9 Jen March 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm

This reminds me so much of the book I just reviewed for Freckleberry Finds, The Underside of Joy. I am glad you reevaluated your judgement. We all do it, but we should all stop and remember that we don’t know the whole story and have not walked in that other person’s shoes. If we all took this same time to reconsider and have compassion, the world would be such a better place.

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10 farrah March 24, 2012 at 12:37 am

Wouldn’t it though? As I said to someone else….it’s unfortunate that we have to have a ‘crisis’ of our own to come to this understanding.

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11 Leanne March 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm

It’s so hard to be in those situations and not take the person’s side who is telling you their story. Of course, the person telling the story knows that, so that’s when the stories get even more embellished and any shred of decency the mom may have had is now completely lost in translation. Good for you for rethinking with a clear head and realizing that what it seems isn’t always how it is… although sometimes it is.

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12 farrah March 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

It’s a slippery slope to be sure. I just decided that if she wasn’t there to defend herself, how would I know? And in the end, if it is all true- I can only imagine the pain she is feeling now or at least someday when she realizes what she is missing.

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13 KerryB March 28, 2012 at 4:09 am

ugh right on! I am a terrible judger at times especially of myself! That’s crazy! Life is hard and being a parent is even harder. I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything but it is difficult and there are many days that I put my girls in their room to play so I can cool off and get a grip because they deserve a great Mom. Thanks for the touching post!

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14 farrah March 31, 2012 at 12:26 am

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Yes- it is by far and away the toughest job that I have ever known. I give moms kudos every single day just for wanting the best for their kids and really trying. A friend once told me ‘Everyone’s doing the best they think they can.” And if you really think about that- it’s true. Who am I to say otherwise?

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15 Kim March 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Wow, you are a better person than me! I agree with you, but I just can’t hear sad stories about kids since having 2 of my own. I am sure whatever she was going through, was very very difficult, although I find it funny that she had the time/effort/thought/ etc to sell all of the children’s things first. But again, that’s me being me. Great post, and very thought provoking.
Kim
My Twintastic Life

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16 farrah March 31, 2012 at 12:25 am

Ha- that’s an excellent point- she did (according to great grandma) take the time to sell everything. And you and I both know that that’s a pretty big pain the the rear. Yeah, I guess I will never know the whole story. I think I’ll end up contacting that grandma again though to give her some stuff so I’ll see if I can get anything else out on the tale. Not like it’s necessary- but you know. Just because I’m nosy 🙂

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