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I was very moved and inspired by an article I read in The Guardian Weekend magazine’s, Experience column on Saturday (17 July) and I thought I would share it with you.

It was written by a young woman called Michele Gorman and entitled, ‘I’m proud my mother left me’

I do know how hard it can be to read articles with a mother living apart from her child theme but I found this one full of hope. Michele shows enormous insight and understanding into what we will understand as the extremely difficult decision to leave our children in the family home when our marriage/relationship breaks down. Please don’t let the title, ‘I’m proud my mother left me’ put you off of reading it, as half way through Michele writes:

“The message was consistent, and clear. She wasn’t leaving us. She was leaving her husband. We had the choice to go with my mother. We chose not to. My mother’s new place would be just three miles away but I wanted my friends around me, and the familiarity of the home I’d grown up in. Besides, on a practical level, I didn’t see how the school bus would know where to find me if I moved. (I’d had similar concerns about Father Christmas years earlier when we went to my grandma’s for Christmas Eve.) My mother must have been devastated by our choice, and overwhelmed at the enormity of what she was doing.”

Although heartbreaking, Michele’s childhood worry about the school bus and Father Christmas can help us to see that a child’s ‘choice’ to stay in the home is not personal but makes perfect sense when you are eleven years old. That said, I totally understand how rejecting these ‘choices’ can be and gently suggest that all mothers apart find ways and help when necessary, to look after their own feelings and keep their hearts open to their child and her/his ‘choice’ at the same time.

Michele acknowledges her own pain and that of her sister but mostly she writes about her mother’s decision as being courageous act. It is very clear that despite living apart she is very close to her mother who has become an inspiring role model to her because of her decision to leave the family home. She ends the article as follows:

“She became a stronger person because she was brave enough to leave. My sister and I grew up on many mantras from my mother but I think the most important is: if you don’t like something about your situation, see how you can change it. She taught me that it’s better to be judged by others as unconventional than to judge yourself a coward.”

Some points you might like to ponder upon:

  • Children can see and gradually understand things from perspectives which we might find surprising. What messages or mantras do you give your children? Even if we have little or no contact at the moment, children are capable of seeing that you have tried even if they are angry or align themselves with their resident parent.
  • Consider Michele’s mother’s mantra: if you don’t like something about your situation, see how you can change it. Are you ready to make any changes to boost your happiness and find peace of mind?
  • Never give up hope. Time is a great healer. Two clichés but oh SO true! Find ways to support yourself to keep your heart and door open.

Please take outrageously good care of yourself.

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Sarah’s new self-help book: A Mother Apart

Support for women

Sarah specialises in counselling and training women. She helps non-resident mothers find inner peace by dealing with guilt, distress and other difficult feelings which can be experienced when living apart from their child. Her self-help book, 'A Mother Apart', published by Crown House, is available now. She also supports business women grow in confidence whilst growing their businesses. To find out more, please visit Sarah Hart's website

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