Family, Mothering, Reflection

Mothering Outside the Margins

I have been able to reflect on how my childhood was spent during a short period of time when I was raised by my biological mother. My mother always played with me, took me to the park, etc. She made sure I was cared for although she was only 15 years old. She didn’t have the support of her mother, because she was an alcoholic who partied all the time. My grandmother wasn’t being a mother to my mother and her other children, because of the brokenness she was battling within herself. Because my grandmother was so broken, she couldn’t mother her children properly and her characteristics passed onto her children and so forth creating a generational curse. According to my aunt, her mother’s definition of being a mother was to make sure her children had a roof over their head, food to eat, hot water, household bills paid, and clothes on their back. It did not include nurturing her children, spending time with them, nor come support them on their greatest accomplishments and that included not showing up to their eighth grade graduation.

My mother succumbed to the life of alcohol and drugs to numb the pain she was battling with. The pain of being kidnapped, raped, rejected, etc. was too much for her that it was affecting her mothering skills towards my siblings and I. She gave us up to her oldest sister with the intentions of getting herself together and kicking her addiction to the curb. While residing at my aunt’s house with my sister, I longed for my mother. She only came around every once in a while. I would cry every time she would leave. Just imagine not being able to call my mom, see her, nor say “Mom” for a few months at a time. I hated it at my aunt’s house. She was never home; instead she was either at school and/or work. Her husband watched their five children along with my sister and I. I was molested constantly by him. I couldn’t tell, because he instilled that fear in me and always kept me on punishment in the room with the door locked. Until one day my mother called the house phone and asked to speak to me. I was relieved that she called because that’s when I told her about the abuse. As any mother would do, she called Child Protective Services to have my sister and I removed from the home.

My aunt called me all kinds of liar. She believed her husband over me. Still to this day, she hasn’t apologized to me, but I’ve already forgiven her and the perpetrator so I could move on with my life. I still talk to my aunt from time to time. I would go over to her house and clean up as well as to keep her company. It took a lot of me to still deal with her, but I needed to do this for me so I could heal. Forgiving is not an easy skill to acquire. It takes a lot of yourself, but it is the only way you can start living life fully without holding anything back. When you forgive, you feel free and become a much stronger person than someone who hasn’t forgiven and living life as if nothing is bothering them.

My sister and I were placed in my great aunt’s home, however that placement didn’t work out due to I being molested by her son. I eventually ended up in foster care at the age of eight years old. I’ve been to so many foster homes that the word “Mom” wasn’t in my vocabulary. It wasn’t until I was in my last foster home that I stayed for 10 years that I decided to be a mother myself at 16 years old. I called my foster mother of 10 years “Mom” because I just wanted to call somebody mom, but it was so fake because every time her or her family member gets upset, I’m labeled “foster child”. When I gave birth to my first child at 16 years old, he was the love of my life. I vowed to protect him with my life, teach him, be there for him and so much more. I was determined to be the best mother for him. After he had turned one year old; I had moved out of my foster mother’s home into my own apartment through the Gateway Longview Independent Program. During the transition I was a senior at Hutch Tech High School and working a part time job at Sears. I was determined to graduate from high school. Both my biological parents didn’t graduate from high school.

All that my biological mother had done with me as a child, I did with my son. I played with him and his toys. I took him to the park as well as to children events in the community. My definition of “mother” is to spend quality time with your children, because it is something that will always be treasured with them.
After I had graduated from high school with biochemistry major, I learned the role of “mothering”. I was “mothering” my own mother while she was sick from abusing drugs. It was a reversed role in which I became her mother and she my child. I wasn’t her enabler no co-dependent, because I didn’t condone her addiction. I would find myself caring for her like she had cared for me. I would be her biggest cheerleader while she was in rehab. I encouraged her even when she had relapsed. I would get depressed, because my hopes were so high for her because I was yearning for her to be my mother again. I just wanted my mom back. I was still stuck in the phase of being five years old, Kamil. My mother was the best mother to me during that time of my childhood, before it was taken from me.

My definition of “mothering” means nurturing your child(ren) physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. A mother goes out her way to give her children the life she was never given as well as to protect her cubs at all cost. A mother disciplines her children and teaches them right from wrong. But most importantly a mother teaches her children to be better than her and to go beyond themselves. My biological mother gave me the best advice which is to always be better than her and to accomplish what she couldn’t accomplish. I always took heed to her many advices on life.

When my mother was being strong enough to kick her addiction to the curb, I had noticed a change in her. While she was sober she would sit me down and talk to me about all that she has been through in her life. She was starting to be my mother again by apologizing to me about what I had been through in my childhood, spending time with my children, and being there for me when I needed her. There would be times I wouldn’t think my mother would be there for me, because of her wanting to focus on getting healthy. I would ask my foster mother of 10 years if she could help me out with a few things, but she always had an excuse that I never asked her for anything ever again. It’s rather sad that she don’t even pick up the phone to call to check on my children and I. But when I give her a call to check on her and the family, it’s always “Kamil I need some money”. As of today, I do not call her, but I would say hello just on Face Book and keep it moving. However, my biological mother was there for me despite her focusing on getting healthy. I thanked her and I loved the fact that our relationship was improving.

It wasn’t until I had received a phone call from my brother telling me that our mother had passed in her sleep. I was confused and I couldn’t understand how she was doing so well for her to depart from this life. I was angry with God for taking my mother away when I needed her to still be my mother and grandmother to my children. Mother’s day would never be the same, because she passed a week after Mother’s Day. Although it’s been nine months since my mother passed, I’ve noticed a change in myself in which I had came to terms with accepting myself. I realized I was living through my mother instead of living for myself and without fear. I’ve became a better mother to my children. I’m constantly modifying my mothering skills to better understand my children and the changes they are going through. My two middle children’s father had passed last month unexpectly in his home. My ex-husband and I had joint custody arrangements in which we both had our children part time. With his sudden passing I have our children full time. My mothering skills were challenged big times. I felt so helpless as a mother to my children who had lost their father, because I couldn’t fix the situation to bring him back alive. I was used to having a break when they went with their father. Now I don’t have a break and my house is loud as ever every day. They’ve become defiant, not listening, and being rebellious. I know they are grieving, but there is a fine line to behaving and doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

Yes, I’m overwhelmed and stressed out, but I know this situation is temporarily. It’s difficult being unemployed and working on your business full time especially when you don’t have the support you need. There would be days I couldn’t work on my business and my book, because I have to tend to my children when they have a breakdown about their father. My oldest son who is 15 years old would help me sometimes, but he have his days where he’s not happy with his life and his father not being a father to him like he needs him to be. With that being said he would take his anger out on me. It doesn’t make any sense when we argue. It is very difficult raising a teenager without a positive male role model in my household. My youngest daughter is 17 months old and her father is incarcerated. Dealing with his incarceration has really put my depression in overdrive, because of my situation of being alone all the time. I have to remain in touch with him, because of his health conditions (kidney failure, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart attack, and depression).

Although I have a lot on my plate, I do not stop being a mother to my children. I want them to see and know how strong their mother is. I let them know why I do the things I do other than loving them. I told my children about my childhood being in foster care and so forth. With that being said they know the importance of taking pictures, recording special events, and doing scrapbooks. I love my role as a mother, because it is very rewarding to see how my children are turning out as a result of my mothering skills. The society we live in today thinks motherhood is easy. They do not know the pain and struggle we go through to care for our children especially if we have to step in the role of their father in which they are sperm donors. Majority of us mothers believe we do not have a choice to make, but to raise our children on our own if the father decides not to be a part of our children’s lives. The pain, hurt, and struggle that comes along with caring for our children often plays a role in our mental health. Rarely a single parent mother has the support from family and friends to help her balance out motherhood. It can become so stressful that you could lock yourself in the bathroom and just cry it out about why being a mother and mothering our children is so difficult. It’s very important that mothers have that alone time to rejuvenate to be able to mother her children better and effectively or else she will succumb to the lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.

People say money is not everything, but for a single parent mother it is so that she can be able to do things with her children as well as to get them involved in extracurricular activities such as football, basketball, soccer, etc. While I was attending college, I was on cash assistance from Department of Social Services (DSS) unable to collect child support because it was going to DSS. My cash assistance grant was only enough to pay my rent, utilities and left me with $50 to my name twice a month. My eldest son was on the football team and I needed to pay for his registration fee, equipments, and out of town football division meets on top of raising two little ones who were 1 year old and six months at the time. It was a hard pill to swallow when family members, so called friends, and church members had excuses of why they couldn’t help assist me even when I told them it’s not for me, but for my son. I did not want to disappointment my son and tell him he couldn’t play football nor compete against other teams in the division. I had to make a hard decision that I regret to this day, but I felt that I didn’t have a choice, but to make ends meet. I slept with two men for money and stripped at a club. I’ve felt so unpretty, but I kept reminding myself that I’m doing this for my children and to get through school to earn my Bachelor degree. I never wanted to acknowledge that lifestyle, because I was ashamed of it. Keeping a smile on my children’s face was all that mattered to me. Through it all during that difficult period in my life, my son has been very active in sports earning numerous of awards and I graduating with a high B average earning multiple awards for my resiliency. Still to this day my children do not know about that part of my lifestyle to make ends meet. Maybe one day in their late teens I will share it or they may come across it in my diary. I share this story, because people do not know what single parent mothers go through to make ends meet.

We all strive to get out of poverty, because we know it’s a mind set. If us mothers cannot get ourselves out of poverty because of how the system is designed to keep us repressed, we will motivate and encourage our children to strive for higher and to get out of poverty. Society says everyone have the same opportunity to achieve whatever in life even if they are in poverty, well that’s not true, because every opportunity is different for each person especially if they have children. For example, I had the opportunity to relocate outside of New York State, but I had to stay, because I had to raise my sister who was ward of the state trying to get her son out of the foster care system. I went to court to gain custody of my sister as well as supporting her in court to get her son. It was a painful process and I just couldn’t understand why the court system makes it so hard for parents to get their children especially if the parent didn’t abuse or beat their children. My sister’s son was taken, because she was not coming home on time like she was supposed to. I was also made aware that she was struggling with a drug addiction (cocaine). To make a long story short, she gave up on the battle to get her son back and let the current foster mother who has been caring for him since he was four months old adopt him. She stated that she did not want his stability disrupted because he has been living with the foster mother for a year. I understood her reasons for giving her son a better life, but I didn’t agree with him being with someone who was not a part of our family. It was very painful for me because I never wanted my nephew to be in foster care. He didn’t have to go through what my siblings and I had gone through. I wished my sister would’ve signed her rights over to me, but she didn’t despite the fact I had petitioned in court and was with her at every single court appearance.

When my sister had another child, I was there every step of the way from her pregnancy to the delivery to her raising her baby. When my sister didn’t want to be bother with the baby when it was first born, I was there to give the baby love. I brought my sister home and stayed with her for two weeks until she was better enough to care for the baby on her own. I was determined to not let my niece slip out of my hands like my nephew was. When my sister needed a break, I was right there to pick up my niece and she would stay with me for days. My life was on hold to ensure my niece would not go into foster care. The example I had provided are how some people situations are if they could not hop on the opportunity like they wanted to.

Now that my children are older, I can pursue my opportunities at a greater dimension. I’ve learned that I needed to be selfish with myself and that I cannot keep rescuing people from their problems behind poor choices they keep making. I learned the hard way after my biological mother had passed when I didn’t have anyone to help me plan her funeral and the whole nine yards that came with it. I didn’t complain instead I did my mother’s obituary beautifully and I sent her off right. The money that I had in my savings for me to buy my house, I used it to do her funeral. However I will add that I did get some financial help from a cousin who is a veteran marine. I was very appreciative despite the fact it was thrown back in my face. It’s one of the major reason why I don’t accept money from people because they feel like you wouldn’t have accomplished anything if it wasn’t for them. Which is truly sad!

The sacrifices I mad wasn’t a problem for me after all I was the oldest of my mother’s children, therefore everyone expected me to handle everything. My family thinks I got it all just because I have a master degree, but they don’t know what I had to go through to get there. Anyhow, I love how I’m a “Super Mother” and make things happen for myself and my children. I have a few more things I want to accomplish under my belt such as finishing up my book, operating my business and earning my doctorate degree. I know I can do it as long as I’m disciplined and grounded.

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