There is this age old saying “you are a product of your environment”… I used to think it meant that whatever environment you come from you will mimic it. Now I realize that it can mean a variety of things, you can either mirror that environment or reject that environment. Prior to motherhood I would always claim that ‘this statement makes no sense’, ‘this is not all cases’,..etc. but now I realize everything is about perspective. My environment made me who I am, even if I did not mirror it, so in hindsight this statement is completely accurate. Just because I had a bad mother, does not mean I will be one too! Actually, in my short time being a mother I know I am FAR REMOVED from ever being a bad mom.
Sippers, hold on. How could such a mommy advocate of diverse motherhood ever claim a bad mother exist? Yes, I am a woman of my word and I believe there are numerous ways of parenting and there isn’t a one size fits all for motherhood, but BAD MOTHERS do exist. You know the kind you hear on the news that killed their child because they wouldn’t stop screaming. Or the ones that allowed heinous acts to happen to their child by their significant other. There are mothers (and to be honest I don’t even like referring to them as mothers, I prefer to call them carriers) who do not protect their children. I had a carrier instead of a mother. I was not protected and to make matters worse I was told everything was in fact my fault.
August 10th, 1993 I had no clue my life was about to change and this day would be life altering. As I write this, I realize this is the first time I am writing my story on paper, so this might get emotional. I had spent 2 months on summer vacation with my Step-Father’s sister (My Auntie) and it was the 1st time I was in NY and meeting her. She took me and my sister and cared for us like we were her own daughters. That morning, I woke up like any other morning … later that evening my parents called. They said they were cutting the vacation short (we were supposed to stay another week or so) and they would be there in the morning (they were driving from Augusta, GA). That was the moment my heart sank. I started to cry, but found it hard to get the words out of my mouth. It took a while before I finally mustered the courage and bravery to admit to the sexual abuse I was being subjected to for the last 5 years. This was a few days before my 13th birthday, I was a child and I realized I had to take a leap of faith and trust this was the right time. I had prayed for this moment for so long and it seemed like the hardest thing to do was to tell the truth. Would they believe me? Would this make the situation worse? Would they send me back and I would become a teenage mother (I just got my 1st cycle the month prior)? So many things rushed through my head. It would be hours before I finally confessed. My Auntie had so much patience with me, she knew in her heart something was wrong and she wouldn’t give up on me. Not in that moment, not ever. The next day when my ‘parents’ arrived my carrier (mother) saw me in passing and screamed at me “she’s a liar, she got all of this off a Soap Opera.” I never felt so small and worthless in my entire life. I instantly felt like I made a bad decision for saying something. I wanted her to protect me and stand up for me and to this day she hasn’t. Instead she protected the man she was married to. She did not attempt to comfort her child, her first born, the first person to call her mommy.
Fast forward, I eventually ended up in my Auntie’s care, she became my foster mother and she was the advocate I needed. Oh that first year with her was rough. I lashed out. I thought I was unworthy of her love, of her attention because it was something I never got from my mother. When I lived with my carrier (mother) she would tell me I was ugly, and that no man would ever love me or marry me. She reminded me that she had me at age 17 so that she could get on welfare, because she felt abandoned by her mom who went into a nursing home while she was a teenager. She reminded me that my sister was prettier than me and that her father married her. I would get beaten for things like sucking my thumb or getting a ‘C’ on my report card. I remember having to take a bath before she would beat me with an extension cord on my wet body. Those 1st 12 years of my life were rough (except the ones where I was living with my maternal aunt who to this day says I’m her daughter). I now finally had a mother-figure that was trying to build me up, no matter how much I tried to tear the relationship down. It took time. It took years of therapy, and a village that was actually created in my high school. But with their determination my principal, teachers, social workers, therapist, and my beloved Auntie, whipped me into shape. By the time I graduated High School in 1998, I was much more confident. I still had a ways to go on my journey…it took until I was 30, YES 30 to get my life together. Slow and steady wins the race though! Right!?!?
I’m a Super Overprotective Mother. Some wonder why. The answer is, I am a product of my environment and I have trust issues because of what I experienced as a child. I NEVER want my children to ever know what abandonment is, or what neglect is. I mommy the way I mommy because of the circumstances I came from, but I realize just because I had a bad mom doesn’t mean I will be a bad mom.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month, this year’s theme is “It’s All Relative: Supporting Kinship Connections.” I was in Kinship foster care until age 21 when I aged out. I was fortunate enough to get the best foster mother for me ever. Foster care saved me and it can save other youth too.
Here are some 🖥Online Resources on Foster Care Awareness Month: