My oldest son is graduating high school today!!! I still just can't believe how time has flown by me. It seems sometimes that he should still be that tiny little kid with the cottony white hair that was always always begging to go fishing. Joshua has always been such a joy to me and it truly has broken my heart in so many ways that I can't go and see him receive his diploma. He has worked so hard to earn it with little to no help or support from anyone else and I could not be more proud of him.
A little over 15 years ago Joshua's daddy and I were divorced...no lectures please, I know how awful it is and for the record it was never what I chose. After I was thrown (literally) out of the home and the process of divorce was begun I had gone to take Joshua to see his dad and older sister Jessi. During that visit another argument erupted between me and the dad and I ran with Josh to get in my truck and leave.....the dad followed me still trying to fight and reached into the truck and yanked Josh out carseat and all. Of course I chased him and tried to take my son back but he was handed off to a relative in the house who locked the door and kept my baby from me. I fought and screamed and tried my best to fight my way through the man standing between me and the door and my son. I ended up lying on the sidewalk with six broken bones getting my head kicked by a man who outweighed me by 125 lbs while a police officer informed me that I had to leave or be arrested. That marked the beginning of a 7 year long court battle for custody of my son.
Again and again I did whatever I had to do (some things legal and some not so much so) to pay the outrageous legal fees at the ripe old age of 19 and after having been beaten so badly that I lost my chance at a career in nursing and ability to hold most jobs that I was qualified for because of the injuries. Again and again I showed up to court hearings alone because no one in my family felt the need to be there to support me and I had no one else in the world but them and my kids. Again and again I tried to explain to the judge that my age would not prevent me from being a good mother to my son and that he needed me as much as I needed him. Again and again I cried myself to sleep all alone in my apartment with the knowledge that my toddler son who suffered from asthma was in a home filled with animal waste and filth of every variety. Again and again I begged and pleaded with the dad to let me see him and Jessi ......to talk to them on the phone, anything that would help me feel the tiniest bit closer to them. Again and again I went back to the dad and tried to work things out, to be whatever he wanted me to be so that I wouldn't have to suffer the pain of losing my children and going through with the divorce and again and again he would throw me out all over again chosing his cheerleader girlfriend at the high school he worked at over having me there to raise the kids and be his wife.
I was so alone and in so much pain and I had no clue what to do about any of it! My father had committed suicide only 3 months before Josh was born, my mother was a college student with a 4 year old son and a boy in high school who was in constant trouble himself and she simply didn't have the energy left to help me in even the smallest way. Though I technically had a very large family they were all far away and very uninvolved with my life. I had no one left and no where to go for help and no one who cared to hear my cries. So I drank....A LOT. I drove around for days on end looking and looking for some way out of this life that I was stuck in and a way to escape the pain I felt. I was totally and completely lost and without hope. I gave up and caved in to every whim of the flesh. I became all that I had hated in life before then.
I watched my son do without so many of the parts of life that most kids take for granted and his dad took every opportunity to find ways to even further exclude me from the kids lives like refusing to tell me when they were in a play at school and being out of town with them when I was supposed to pick them up for weekend visits. Josh wasn't provided proper medical and dental care or even proper nutrition and suffers numerous health issues because of it all.....his dad just never felt like taking the kids to the dentist or doctor was important even though I offered to take them and we provided insurance for them.
It really hurts to see your children suffer needlessly and to be able to do nothing about it. It hurts even more when people who don't really know the ins and outs of the situation want to take every opportunity to tell me what a horrible mother I am for not having done better by them. I was recently lectured about not being there to attend Joshua's graduation.....if that person only knew the lengths I have contemplated going to in order to be there, but I must forgive them for speaking in ignorance. I have been told by other folks that his graduation is only a worldly tradition and that I shouldn't get upset that I can't go.......it is a worldly tradition that much is true, but is also yet another milestone in my son's life that I have to miss and feel guilty about for the rest of my life.....another one of those things that was important to him that I can't share with him that other people will rub my face in forever. I'm sad about it all today. I'm sad that he doesn't have me there to be in the pictures with him.......he said to me on the phone that he was going to have to bring his pictures when he gets to see me next time and see if we can photoshop me into one. Honestly I don't think that either one of us expected to be so upset today but we both are and I guess that sometimes it's okay to be sad.
To all of you who felt so secure in judging me for not being there today and feel so superior to me as a mother because you have your children with you.....take a minute to put yourself in my shoes. Your child is torn from your arms as you scream and cry and BEG to just hold him. You stand there and see him crying out to you with his arms stretched just as far as they can but you are helpless to help him. As you try to fight to get to him with every ounce of strength you have you can hear your bones being broken but you feel nothing but a raging need to hold your son.....until later on and then for the next 15 years as you watch him from a distance you feel every bit of that pain, physical and emotional every single day of your life and it is amplified as you go about your life (what is left) feeling that void where you once held that son and instead of the void becoming filled or less painful it grows with your son. Every time someone forgets to mention that child your heart feels as though it was scraped by a razor's edge, yet when someone asks how he is you feel the searing heat of judgement falling on you. Mother's day is the hardest day in the world to endure and family holidays are pure misery. He is the first person you pray for every morning and the last that you pray for every night. You live every moment not knowing anything about his life until after the fact and every second feeling guilty for not knowing where he is and what he is doing right at that moment. You always want to talk about him with your friends and family but tire of getting those looks of contempt and vague disinterest that are so thinly veiled by a gauzy layer of social civility. You went on with your life because you couldn't end it but are feeling constantly criticized and looked down upon and gossiped about by everyone you know for having done so.....and you always wonder what if it had been them instead of me. You feel permanently incomplete no matter what and you know that absolutely no one understands your pain, in fact most people don't think that you have the right to feel pain for that loss. Everytime you hear another mother complain about her children you fight the urge to scream at the mother and hug that child. Everytime you hear other parents talk about needing a break from their kids or time away from them you cringe inside and fight the urge to tell them how it feels to be stripped of a child for the rest of your life and remind them that their children won't stay children. Know that unless you have gone through what I have you can't possibly understand it and that you have no right to condemn me.
How I wish I had known Jesus then!!!! I often wonder what would be different now if I had known Him. The heartaches and soul scars that I could have been spared!! If only I had been told about the Lord what pain I could have saved not only myself but my children. The only comfort today comes from knowing that Josh and I are both saved by the grace of our Lord and that because He loved us we will be together again in Heaven someday and then no one will ever hurt us again.