When a parent leaves

My dear bloggy friend Melissa has this awesome little blog which landed her on a little show called Dr. Phil (well not EXACTLY like that, but thats not the point). She was called to be a part of the show because of her very STOUT opinion about motherhood and parenting. Her post and her position on the show resonated with me as a mother and with my inner child.

I am an abandoned child. No, my parents did not necessarily leave me at the firehouse to become a ward of the state. I was raised by both my parents until their divorce. My father moved out and then checked out, emotionally, physically, and mentally. His ties to his children were non-existent, if ever ties were present, hard to tell based on his actions. My mother, her sole focus was to be sure we were taken care of physically and basically. Food on the table, clothes on our back, roof over our heads. I do not blame my mother at all, she did what she had to do as a responsible parent and she went into survival mode. Nurture was not a priority when coming straight out of a nasty and bitter divorce. My mother did right with myself and my siblings, I commend her for all that she endured with raising three kids alone and the trying years we gave her. She could have made the choice to leave. To leave her three children in the care of a man who was not even half able to care for himself, who had (and still has) addiction issues, denial, emotional detachment, strong sense of egoism. While my father was not the fittest parent to care for children he mentally, physically, and emotionally made the decision to leave. Which in my opinion is more damaging than a parent leaving based on a divorce.

While watching the bits of the show I was angry that mothers, MOTHERS, do this to their own children. They make the decision to leave, possibly out of the whole feministic movement, who knows. What I do know is that everytime I leave my house without my children my uterus turns in knots. I know when my oldest does something he should not have before my husband even calls, I can tell when my twins have gotten hurt before I get a call, before I run to their aid I know exactly what is wrong. I feel like something is missing when they are not there. While I enjoy my personal time, I feel my sense of responsibility to them, ALL THE TIME.

I am not saying I am a perfect mother or a mother that has some tremendous bond. As a parent myself I have days, moments, hours where I want to escape. Escape the pressures of being a parent. But only for a moment, until I am brought to center. Where I have my three feet of personal space, to take some deep breaths, to have a moment of Zen. Then I can tackle yet again, this job, duty, the love of being a mother.

I watched as these mothers left. They felt no attachment. None. None to care for their children. To provide. To nurture. To build a protection and level of security that all children need no matter what their age. While my mother provided basics during and after the divorce was finalized she began to nurture again and still does. My mother is the sweetest most hearty woman I know. Her goodness is what makes me what I am today with the balance of my father and his not so stellar qualities. Which segues me back to my father and his detachment. When parents divorce and leave they make the physical decision to leave the shared home, stated fact. Okay, these two people clearly cannot be under the same roof. However, the decision to leave should not include the decision to check out emotionally.

I am tainted goods. I have an inner child with deep rooted damage of a father who left. A parent who abandoned not just because of the divorce, but because he chose NOT to care for his children. Father’s to some degree I can see how this is easy, to disconnect from children, they do not have the internal bonding that a mother shares with her child in utero. At times when I think of my pregnancies I can pin point each rib that each child dug a heel or elbow into. I still get a wince of pain. So I can see how fathers may checkout. But I cannot understand for the life of me why a mother would leave. HOW? How can she live with herself? Is she so delusional to think that she has no responsibility to that child? I commend Melissa for what she does.

She is a step-mother to her step-children that live with her and her husband (children’s father) FULL-TIME. You can read all about her story here. I connected with Melissa because when my father divorced my mother he was immediately “dating” his previous ex-wife. Yeah, my mom was #2. My father makes the wise decision then not even a year after they are separated to “date” and three months after the divorce is finalized in January of 1988, April 1988 my new half-brother is born. O.K.A.Y. But at least my less than acceptable father marries and impregnated (twice) a good woman. Yes in 1989 a half sister arrived. Nonetheless though, my step-mother was my surrogate mother every other weekend that we were in the drunken custody of my father. If not for this woman life would be unbearable, scary, and downright suicidal if not a complete free-for-all. My step-mother took myself and my two siblings in as her own. She loved us, fed us, clothed us even. She would take us on hikes, plan day trips, dance with us, color with us, teach us to cook. Sounds like any normal mom right? Except she did not bear us from her womb, she merely married my sperm donor, who divorced MY mother.

I truly understand and feel the pain of the loss of a parent. The disconnect. The abandonment. But I have to say I would be devastated, I would not be who I am today if I did not have my mother nor my step-mother. I have been blessed to have had TWO extremely beautiful, strong, loving women in my life who taught me love, respect, and beauty. They taught me that even when the going gets tough, you dig in, bear down, and fight. My mother fought for us in the divorce, she fought to not let my father make any attempts to rip us from her. So for those of you who have lost your mothers I am so sorry. I know your feelings, but cannot begin to feel your pain. Your pain is like no other than can be healed. The loss of a parent to death can be grieved through the stages of grief, but a parent and or mother especially lost out of her own self-decision is devastating. Mothers are the world. They don’t call everything her mother Earth for no reason, because a mother is our entire worlds.

For those mothers and fathers who have left I wish I could wrap my head around your reasoning, your disconnect, your emotional detachment, your failure to adhere to the unwritten laws of parenting. I do not judge, I just wish some of us could understand. Are your motives selfish? Are they the inability to cope? How can you abandon your child? YOUR CHILD?

14 Replies to “When a parent leaves”

  1. I am sorry for your loss. My dad left and it still hurts and it totally fucked up my brother.

    But on a positive note, thank you for introducing me to a great new blog.

  2. @ASM I used to be sorry for my pain, my inner child is healing. It may take her the rest of my adult life but I would not be the strong woman I am today had I not had my strong mother. Melissa has an AWESOME blog!

    @Melissa I <3 you TOo!! What is bad is I was more unaware until adulthood that I could really understand my pain.

  3. I cannot understand a mother leaving her kids either. I couldn't do it nomatter what. You are lucky to have had 2 great woman to help form you into the person you are today. I'm sure your issues with your dad are hard, but it sounds like you are better off without him.

  4. Your pain is felt through the words in your post, and I am sorry.

    Both parents have a responsibility to their children. Men and women. I wish society would hold both parties responsible.

    I'm glad you shared your story with us.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  5. Now I see what you are saying when you left your comment on my blog. Thank goodness for those that were there for us!

  6. My father left too. I saw him only a few times in my life even though we used to live in the same small town. I haven't seen him since I was 14 and I have no idea where he is or even if he is alive. It sucks. No doubt about it. Most of the times I'm able to forget about it but even now years and years later I'm occasionally reminded that I was basically abandoned. To up and leave your kids is an act beyond me. For a father or a mother to just leave their kids makes me sick. It really does.

  7. I wish parents of any gender understood how important their actions are on their children. I understand that sometimes people deal with their own ghosts and chemical imbalances that have them so far removed from the norm.

    I have a female family member, raised with other siblings. The other siblings are all wonderful parents, yet this one female simply can not get it together enough to do right by her children. I really believe it's a chemical thing, beyond her ability to fix.

    I agree with you on all points, that a parent checking out is a brutal thing to live with, but I try to not judge in the sense that maybe, just maybe…something within their brains are just chemically wrong. And I pity them for all of the love and joy they miss out on in life and in child rearing.

    Melissa has a wonderful blog. It's one of my favorites out there.

  8. I am the product of divorce (at a very young age). My mom did the best she could and my dad pretty much went on with his life while still providing financial support.

    I don't understand how a parent can leave their children.

    I guess it goes to show you that not everyone was meant to be a parent!

    Have a great weekend.

    Michelle @ One Crafty Mama

  9. @Melissa, I think we cannot understand because we know what it feels like to be part of our children's lives and the devastation we personally would feel without them.

    @Stesha, hugs back to you my sister from another mother! So glad you stopped by for some "fishing."

    @Desert Rose, very true, very true. So glad I got to share this with you. There is more but I may have to hunt for the particular post.

    @Marilyn, I feel your pain. I wish I could have the "I don't know where he is" scenario as now mine is forcing himself into my life where I have had to make threats of law involvement because he is still so toxic as a person that I choose to not have him in my life. I did have a step-father who was and is the BEST "father" I could have asked for.

    @Nancy, I agree that maybe there is some imbalance but I also think that maybe we have too much family of origin issues that are left hanging in the wind per se and so the baggage is carried onto our children. Rather than dealing with those issues, people walk away. Sad really, as children are such a wonderful gift in life.

    @Michelle, You are right, I think not everyone is made to be a parent, but I also think you can make the choice before hand to avoid damage.

    Thanks so much for weighing in ladies. I love the input.

  10. My mother dropped me off at my Great Gma's house at 3 months old and never looked back. It was for the best looking back at it but now as a mother myself I have no idea how she did it. She died when I was 4 so I can't ask her myself, that question will have to wait. I posted a few years back about this and I said that I am most thankful that she decided to have me at all. It is amazing to me all the heartache that families put on their children. I hope to do better as a parent *fingers crossed*

  11. It's very obvious that you carry a pain from childhood and it still hurts. People need to realize that those decisions last FOREVER to the children.

    I am sooooo sorry.

  12. I cannot even imagine a mother leaving their child. I cannot imagine a mother making any decision whatsoever that would cause their child harm or neglect because or their poor judgment. My dad was an alcoholic until I was about 17 when he finally quit drinking. I would have honestly rather that he had left when I was young instead of putting my mom and I through all the crap that came with his drinking. I am of course glad that he finally did quit drinking and love the man that he is today but it took a lot of hurt to get there

  13. I don't know what to say.
    At one point I felt like running away – I was deep in post-partum depression and didn't know which was up, but I stayed because every time I wanted to run away I thought of my children and what would happen to them. No matter how lost I was, I couldn't leave them.
    I am so sorry your Dad checked out – but I am grateful that you had moms to make you the awesome woman that you are.

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