A Mother's Legacy

    Yesterday, my oldest son, Sean, turned 26-years old, but I didn't get to see him. He didn't get a gift from me, or anyone else. No one baked him a birthday cake, or took him out for a beer. My son is in prison, and has been for more than 4 years. Though he committed the crimes, I'm the one to blame for his incarceration. Children learn by their parent's example, they accept as normal what they see and hear from the people who are their guardians and role models. You see, I take the blame because he learned these behaviors by watching me.

    When your kids are born, you swear you'll do the best job ever of being a parent to your child. You don't think how hard it may get or what your life may be somewhere down the road. You NEVER think that parenting will be so hard and you never think you'll be doing it alone - that the only parent your child will have is you.

    Sometimes, when life gets hard, we look for whatever comfort we can find, and we take what we can get and that's exactly how it all began for me. In the beginning, I used coke because I naively believed it helped me have more energy to do everything that needed to be done. It started out so innocent, a line of coke helped me do the work normally done by two parents. I rationalized it, thinking my kids would never do without because I was a single parent. Before long I found that I couldn't do anything  without a little "bump" to give me a boost, of energy and self-confidence, than another and another to keep the feeling going. When that no longer did the trick, I found freebasing. What started as "a little fun" had become my whole life. I forgot that I was going to do "the best job ever" of being a parent to my kids and became as dedicated to my drug as I had once vowed to be to my children.

    As my addiction grew, so did the blindness I acquired to the things that were what made me who I was. I didn't spend time with my family like we had always done in the past. Going to the lake or park was a thing of the past, as well. My kids no longer had a mother, even though I was physically there. I didn't have the time to laugh or play with them, because not only was I using coke, but now Mommy was selling it as well.

    As with all things, good and bad alike,  it takes just a single moment to bring your transgressions into focus and bring your world to a crashing halt. I can't say I thought I would never get caught, I've always believed that, as with anything illegal, it's not a matter of IF you get caught, but WHEN. I knew my day to pay the piper was coming, but I chose to turn a blind eye...an easy thing to do, until the piper comes knocking on your door.

    Going to prison was a torture, the likes one who's never been, will never truly know. I knew I had no right to feel sorry for myself, I got what I  deserved. The ones that I  felt sorry for were the ones who were punished though they were without guilt - my kids. They were the ones who suffered with my punishment and were the ones I hurt the most.

    By the time I got my life back to a point where I was free and in control, my children were no longer children, but adults, with children of their own. It hurts even now, 18+ years later,  when I remember my first conversation with my son after I was released. I can still hear my young son say, "I never knew what happened, Mom. One Day we were a family, then the next day ...you were gone. I didn't know what I had done to make you go away and nobody would talk to me about what was going on."

    No one took the time to tell the then 8- year old child, that his mommy never left HIM, she didn't leave because HE was bad; his mommy left because she broke the law, and she had to pay the price. They left that little boy, who worshiped his mother and who was his mothers "favorite son named Sean",  to live with the pain and guilt a child's mind will  build without the facts. After 10 years of self-blame and unanswered questions it's a bit too late to try to erase the damage and misconceptions that an 8-year old mind creates, especially when that mind has become that of an adult and  has lived with guilt, fear and anger for the majority of their life.

    So, now you know "why" I say I take the blame for everything my son has said and done that got him where he is. He didn't have the "luxury" of family growing up and he didn't know "why" his family had fallen apart before his eyes. He thought his Mom was perfect and wanted to be just like her when he grew up. If his Mom sold drugs it must be okay because his Mom was a good person and would never do things that were wrong. He grew up thinking selling dope was normal and a valid occupation choice. After all, he just followed his Mama's example and working in what he termed the "family business".

    So, Mommies and Daddies, think before you play - because NONE of us want our kids to follow in our footsteps down this path one day. The punishment WE receive is minor in comparison to  what our kids must face and  the scarring of our babies hearts and minds NEVER goes away!


imacamarogirl2 imacamarogirl2
46-50, F
5 Responses Feb 20, 2010

Thank you for this very heartfelt post. You have grown as a human being, you have insight and you know where you took mis-steps. You cannot get those years back - and you can be there now in whatever manner possible to ensure the cycle stops for future generations. I too work dilligently at stopping the cycle I was wrapped up in. Peace to you and your family.

You know what. You didn't do the best you could. You could have made other choices but you didn't.<br />
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In a way, you do own some of the responsibility for your son's behavior.<br />
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However, you accepted your part. You have a reasonable understanding of the depth of your failure and the consequences.<br />
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I don't believe it is ever too late for healing. I don't believe it is ever to late to make things right. <br />
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I suspect you are doing that already and that is a very good thing. <br />
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The guilt, shame, and worthless feelings from the past will not help you build a better future.<br />
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I am awed by where you are now given where you were before. You are an amazing woman and worthy of much praise. <br />
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Take heart your family can heal. Your willingness to step up and take responsibility for your part of things is astonishingly refreshing in a culture where we love nothing more than to claim it's not our fault.<br />
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What an honest mom you are. You did your best. You are a strong lady with quite an experience and I am proud of you for having the courage to share something so personal. My heart goes out to you. Take care.

Your story is so sad! But try not to take the whole blame for what Sean has done--I didn't have the greatest set of parents, and I learned how to be the adult I wanted to be by doing everything differently than they did. Yes, I'm a lot like them in some ways, but I made a concerted effort not to repeat the bad things they did (vicious child abuse being #1) and have had a pretty good life so far. Maybe Sean will be able to pull himself together after this experience in prison--I have a good friend who spent 5 years in prison on a drug charge and decided he would do ANYTHING rather than go back there again. Today he's in his late 50s and goes into prisons to helpl run meetings(AA and NA) for drug and alcohol addicted inmates who are trying to learn to live a different way. The thing he's most proud of is helping inmates in the institution where he once did his time.<br />
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Remember also, as joevvin said above, that "...you walk wrapped in/God's grace,/Protected & peaceful forever." God bless.

Hey, do not feel guilt. <br />
<br />
angel of <br />
Mercy always sits <br />
Next to you <br />
& <br />
Covers you with gentle <br />
Wings <br />
So that, <br />
You walk wrapped in <br />
God’s grace, <br />
Protected & peaceful forever