The following was submitted by the wonderful author of the blog: MotherErased. Please show her the same support and RawrLove that you always do.
At four years old I am standing inside our home with my sister and our young mother. We have our winter coats on and my mother has her hand on the front doorknob. She turns to face my father who is demanding to know where she is taking us.
You see, my mother has begun an affair with a man she believes will help her get away from my father. This is where she is headed that night, standing by the front door with my sister and me in tow. She is leaving my father. This night she plans to escape from her marriage.
But my father intercepts.
And later that night while my sister and I sleep, he throws our mother out of the house. There is snow on the ground. She isn’t wearing shoes or a coat and she has a broken wrist, a consequence of their violent fight.
When my sister and I awake the next morning, our mother no longer lives with us.
She moves into an apartment alone, and my sister and I visit her on Sundays. These visits are quiet. She is not the same mother that used to bring us sledding and read books to us. She is sad and broken. Defeated.
We love her fiercely though, and when she returns us to our father after each visit, we cry and cling to her in the driveway. It’s a terrible scene and as our father is peeling us off of her, he says “See what you are putting them through? They are better off without you. If you love them, then let them go”.
He says this week after week and then she believes him. And she lets us go.
The following year my father remarries and we are told to call his new wife “Mom”. He wants to clean the slate and move on as if divorce, and my mother, never touched our lives. He wants to believe he has put life back in order, and no one tells him otherwise.
His new wife happens to be a brunette like my sister, with short, straight hair. My father has dark hair as well. My own hair is lighter, like my mother’s, long and curly. I’ve become the best behaved little girl, but my hair is a bit unruly and this causes a problem for our family.
One Saturday, we are all out doing errands together and a stranger, noticing my dark haired family members and me, asks me, “Well where you get your hair?” I feel scared by this question. I don’t know how to answer her. I can’t mention my real mother. She’s been erased from my life. We never mention her. So I stand there, speechless, and my step mother says quickly “Oh it runs in the family. She has an aunt with the same hair”.
I want to disappear. I just feel this shame. My very existence, the sight of me, could blow the family secret. I sensed that was about the worst thing I could do.
Shortly afterwards, my stepmother brings me to get my hair cut short. “It was too much trouble to take care of”, is the reason she gives.
The day I turn five, my mother dares to show up at our home with a birthday gift for me. She has her hair pulled back into a ponytail. I don’t remember if I look at her face. I want her there but I feel so anxious too. I’m not supposed to want her there. I’m not supposed to love her anymore.
My father paces, his jaw clenched. His anger is palpable. My mother comments on my haircut. Then she gives me the gift and I open it. I’m playing with the new toy when I hear my sister say: “We don’t need you to come here. We have a new mother now”. She is only six years old, but she is angry and her words carry far too much power. I know then that our mother won’t be back.
Eventually we move three towns away. Years go by with no mention of my mother except for sometimes at night in our bedroom, when my sister and I whisper about the past. We call our mother You-Know-Who because we don’t dare speak her name. She has become a mystery that we are trying to solve by sharing the memories that we have of her.
When my sister gets her driver’s license, she decides that we are going to find our mother, and we do. We don’t tell our father, of course. We just sneak away and arrive at our mother’s doorstep, ten years since we had seen her last. Her two little boys come to the door, and then they run to go get their mother. Our mother.
She cries and hugs us. She tells us that she has always hoped we would come find her. There were cards and letters she sent, she says, things we had never received. My sister is still angry at her and she has questions. I am numb. Mute. She is not You-Know-Who anymore. She is real again and I am not ready for this.
We leave our mother’s home that night and several more years go by before I see her again.
Finally, at the age of 23, we meet up, just the two of us. We meet at a coffee shop half way between our separate lives and I want to take in every detail of her appearance. Here we are, two women with such similar features, and yet we are strangers. This time, though, I am ready to hear her story. I need to hear her story.
And I tell her mine. I tell her of the void in my life as I grew up- the loneliness, the confusion and shame.
Finally, after this visit, I grieve. Through my grief I heal and I write.
I face the truth. I am telling the truth now. I have a mother. Her name is Jana. On a snowy winter night, she was thrown out of my life. She was afraid. She was flawed. But she did love me. And I loved her. And there is no shame in that.