Do You Really Want To Know Why I’m A Bad Mother?

Do you really want to know why I left my kids behind?

The truth is, I’m not even sure I want to know. I want to erase the parts of my memory that still hurt, lock away the pain and never have to revisit it again.

I’m a bad mother. I abandoned my children because I wanted a frei life. That’s what they say, anyway. That I wanted to drink and do drugs and have sex with lots of men.

I’m a bad mother because I sought out a friend to allieviate some of the daily trauma I was going through, and when it turned inappropriate I let it continue. Then, when I was found out for this stupid relationship, I was a bad mother because I had to be physically punished by my childrens’ father while my oldest watched.

I’m a bad mother because I still went to mikva even when I was pregnant so he wouldn’t find out. And I didn’t tell the mikva lady to open her eyes and cry out even though she saw that I had been hurt.

I’m a bad mother because I picked one child over two and left them behind because I thought he would kill me.

I’m a bad mother because I hid from my children, miles away in a town without frum Jews. I let the shomrim bang on the door until their knuckles bruised. I’m a bad mother because I didn’t go back for them, cut their peyos off and give them English names so their father wouldn’t find them.

I’m a bad mother because I let him think that she wasn’t his, even though it’s clear as day whose genes she has. I’m the worst mother because I’m keeping her wonderful spirit away from him so he can’t treat her like he treated and still treats me.

I’m a bad mother, because he and I both know that if I launched an aggressive custody battle it would come out that she is his and I would lose her too. I don’t fight back when he takes visitation away from me, because in my head I think I can save my daughter from the truth just a bit longer.

She doesn’t know she’s chassidish. She doesn’t speak much Yiddish. I’m a bad mother because I’m robbing her of the traditions of her heritage.

Don’t say I’m not a bad mother, because I am.

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14 responses to “Do You Really Want To Know Why I’m A Bad Mother?

  1. You are not a bad mother because you did what you had to do to save yourself, because you chose to live. Fighting for your life and for your children makes you a good mother. Had you given up, that would make you a bad mother.

    You are not a bad mother because you are teaching your children how to stand up and fight for themselves. What an important lesson that is.

    You are not a bad mother because you keep fighting for your children, as best as you can.

    Don’t say you’re a bad mother, because you arent.

    • Fighting doesn’t make me good, it just glosses over the bad in the first place. Or at least that’s what it feels like to me.

      I appreciate your words, and I’m not dismissing them at all. It just feels pretty crappy most of the time.

      • I beg to differ. sometimes you have to save yourself, in order to be able to there to fight for the others. staying in a toxic situation does not make you a hero, it makes you a sacrificial lamb. is that what you want your children to learn from you?

        I think the lesson you can teach them now is much greater. keep fighting, and keep reminding yourself that you are not what they define you as. thats part of the fight too.

  2. I don’t have any words. Cookie Jar is right, though. You are a good mom and a brave woman. I don’t know many women who would go to such lengths to protect their child.

    • And here’s the dichotomy – I went to lengths to protect one but not the others. It feels dishonest (on my part) to be praised for that.

  3. I think whether you’re a good mother or not is rather clear, but I respect your request to not argue the point. Rather I think we can recognize that you have been hurt in many and serious ways. To fight and struggle and write and love as you have done, show you to be much stronger than I think I am or could be (and I guess many others too).

    • We do what we need to do. Strength is relative to our individual situations. I think everyone is capable of making difficult choices when that’s all they can make.

  4. Pingback: Consider This | Kol B'Isha Erva·

  5. I don’t know how you live with this pain.

    How will you raise you daughter as a happy, well-adjusted child? Are you in therapy?

    That’s not my point, really. Maybe that should be my point, but it isn’t. I read several of your posts. My point is just that I feel your suffering. Even second hand, it is overwhelming.

    • I barely live with this, and no I’m not in therapy. My daughter is, despite everything, incredibly happy. Very well adjusted. She loves everyone.

      I don’t want her to ever lose that.

      I’m sorry it’s overwhelming. I guess you can imagine the drive that it takes to get out of bed every day.

      • It is amazing that you are able to put everything aside and be a mother that can raise a happy, sociable, trusting child.

        Don’t be sorry! Being able to empathize with someone’s pain is a uniquely human gift. It is the least I can offer you. I hope it affirms the validity of your feelings.

        And no, I can’t imagine what it is like to face this every day. I only wish you strength and wisdom.. It sounds like you are very, very alone in your struggle, which compounds the affect tenfold.

    • You read a post by a mother openly discussing how she considers herself a bad mother, and your response is to further question her abilities as a mother?!

      • Cookie, if I understood your other comments here, you too went through much trauma. People who go through trauma are almost all negatively affected by it, often in ways seemingly disconnected from what happened. Child abuse, spousal abuse, communal rejection, isolation…They can destroy your life and the lives of people closest to you. If you want to learn more about the effects and the healing of trauma, read the classic book Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman.

        Suggesting therapy to someone who went through trauma means “I care about you enough, and believe you are intact enough, to tell you please don’t ignore the consequences of what you have been through. Please rebuild your life and give your loved ones the best possible you; get help to turn this trauma into your biggest strength!”

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