Sunday, May 29, 2011

Motherhood in Question?

I was thinking, over this holiday weekend how good it is to have family together, I just feel so happy to be surrounded by the people I love.  Even as we do our own independent activities within our home, I can sense we are close to one another and can feel that warmth and love just radiating from our very beings.  I had a difficult time while incarcerated, in fact the hardest part of being locked up was missing my children,  the pain was just deep down in the depth of my soul.  I had no idea I would have to survive three years away, I don't think I could have even wrapped my thoughts around such a void when I was first ushered into the pits of Dallas County Jail following my trial.  I thought surely I would be out on an appeals bond in no time. I couldn't even imagine the Judge setting a bond so high my family couldn't touch it. After all, in the four years prior to my trial I had been on a personal recognizance bond for most of that time and had never violated the terms, showing up in court every two weeks.

One of the biggest issues of this countries' excessive incarceration practices is the destructive force it has on the families in America.  Such a destructive force, indeed.  Pulling parents away from their children.  I used to think the children were better off without those "criminal" parents.  Once in there, meeting many good, family oriented, kind and nurturing women I had to really rethink the stereotype I had implanted in my brain.  Besides, there I was too and not because of any loathsome lifestyle.

About a year into my incarceration, and still at Dallas County, I finally sat down and wrote a book except, more as a therapy for me than anything else.  I needed to sort out my feelings about being ripped away from motherhood, it seemed like the emptiness I felt was going to eat me up, not to mention the lingering anger.  Following is that excerpt:

     In our society and perhaps all societies a woman's role inside the family includes one of nurturing - to care for and develop the children.  Girl children are expected, from an early age, to help their mom with younger children and around the house, while their play most often includes caring for their baby dolls.  As little girls we are taught we are valuable if we help others, quite often that is how we receive our acceptance among the adults in our life.  There are inherent messages of - it is okay to exist so long as we are needed and useful.  The more needed we are, the more purpose we have, the more our existence on this earth is affirmed.  Thus, perpetuating the need to be needed.  It wraps around and possibly smothers our very being.  It even creates a neediness about us.  We become extreme givers while some of us attach to extreme takers, resenting it all the while, yet somehow needing it.  It is a vicious cycle.  We have a hard time receiving anything for ourselves.  Our need to give is primary, with taking care of ourselves secondary, at best. 

     As a child the intrinsic and unstated belief is that it is what we do to survive, to keep from being abandoned.  Therefore, one learns to give without boundaries, at what can become a high cost to self, perhaps abandoning self.  The very issue of abandonment becomes so internalized, growing our neediness.  We look for constant affirmations in our relationships, thereby placing the burden on our loved ones to constantly affirm our existence.  This creates a needy mom, one who may figuratively suffocate their children with "love", one who flounders once they become empty-nesters.

     It is with this said that I explore my growing resentment toward Ron [my husband] in hopes I can prevent the festering of this in our relationship.  If all emotions are based either in fear or love, then resentment is clearly that of fear.  What do I fear?  I fear that Ron will replace me in the eyes of my boys.  I fear I will no longer be needed or valued.  I fear if I am no longer needed then I have no reason for being.  My career has been destroyed and now it feels like motherhood has been stolen from me.  I feel so much grief, bone deep.  These are the two ways I have defined myself, as  a mom and as a business woman.  All was torn away from me once I was convicted and sentenced.  So, where does that leave me?  In Dallas County jail, with only myself to take care of.

     An opportunity to re-parent myself.  I know that sounds crazy but here it is, an opening in my life to find value in me, just being, not performing.  To not be needed by others, yet still be alive, very much alive.  It's beginning to look as though I have an opportunity staring me in the face.  And, when I look at it that way, I feel only gratitude toward Ron.  This reminds me of a quote from my friend, Bears Kaufman:  "when we stand in gratitude, there is no room for unhappiness." 

     So, I have a choice, I can steep myself in fear or I can steep myself in love.  What a grand choice and here I was thinking all choices were taken away from me when I was incarcerated.  As I wallowed in resentment I became unaware of choice.  But allowing myself to explore this I find they cannot take away my attitude and beliefs.

     As I tread through this case against me I have gone through a series of letting go.  First it was my career, then material possessions, as I scrambled to pay legal fees and find any job as a means to support us.   Then it was my physical freedom.  Now, I have the opportunity to let go of my resentment, my fear.  Not just any fear, but a made-up fear. 

     In letting go of that fear I have created a space to redefine myself, to redefine my purpose, to clear out more of the clutter and come to trust myself and my belief in God.  Yet another lesson in surrender.  Another lesson in choosing love.  A chance to learn to nurture myself, thereby growing an interdependent love rather than codependent love for others.  How freeing this is and here I thought all my freedoms had been usurped.  My captors cannot steal or control my thoughts.  I'm in charge of choosing beliefs and corresponding thoughts that enliven a  healthy existence; therein lies my continuing commitment to myself and God.

Working through this was a giant step in my survival and really required me to let go even more of the victim role, as that thinking was just making me sick and wearing me down.  Once I began to clean up my thinking on this subject, my rational thought returned and I knew that I would always be the mother of Nate and Brandon and nothing could diminish the love we have for one another.  We survived our separation from one another.  I missed a big chunk of their lives, their high school years, I can't get those years back, but I do have today for which I am infinitely grateful.


  1. Your book excerpt is great! And, so true. Especially for women/mothers. So, true...

  2. This is one of the most powerful posts ever.

    I cannot even begin to imagine what you went through - especially in regard to your role as mother to your two precious boys - now men.

    Thanks for this whole blog - and this post.

  3. I'm in tears. God has used you and your unfortunate pain to humble me. Even in pain, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, we just have to look for it...or have God show us. Thanks for such a raw look at motherhood and your ultimate sacrifice. Love you!