If I was your mother
For Female Survivors, Male Survivors
Precious child, if I was your mother, during your birth instead of screaming out “no, send it back, I can’t afford two”, I would have prayed, “Lord, help me supply her needs.”
Precious child, if I was your mother when you were a baby, I’d like to think your needs would have come before the needs of my own mother, and mother inlaw.
Precious child, if I was your mother when you were a toddler, I’d like to think that we would have a strong bond between us, where you felt safe to be hugged and receive my love. I’d like to think that bond would have started before you were born. I’d like to think that instead of waiting until you were a 40 year old woman to tell you that you were the most loved and wanted out of all my children, I could have told you that from the day you were born. Not just with my words, but with my actions also.
Precious child, as you turned into a pre-schooler, and your caring heart was full to over flowing, I’d like to think, I would have lighten your load. You were so clever caring for your older brother, interpreting the world for him and helping adults to understand him. You took the time to make up a language with him that he could speak and understand, and gave adults glimpses of what was going on in his mind. You cared for the others in kinder, instead of being free to be you. You had the heavy burden on your wee little shoulders of already trying to be good enough, so the bad things didn’t happen. How I wished you could have been spared that. How I wish I could have taught you the words to say what was happening, and give you the courage to speak out the FIRST time it happened. How I wished I had the courage to hear you, believe you , protect you and love you.
Precious baby, when it was time for you to have your tonsils and adenoids out, how I wished you were free to be cared for instead of feeling you had to tell me every time another baby or child was upset. How I wished I could have been your only nurse, instead of having to nurse every other child on that ward as well. How I wish you could have learnt you were safe with me.
Precious child, if I was your mother, I would have done everything possible to give you a stable home. I’d like to think that I would not have to depend on sending you interstate to live with your grandparents at times, or send you to be babysat by your other grandparents. And I hope to think I would have the courage to act on my gut feelings when I thought there was something not right, instead of letting it slide and telling myself “it will be ok, I’m just imagining it”. How I wished your little heart wasn’t ripped in two and you didn’t feel abandoned every time you stayed with your grandmother, or every time you had to be ripped from her arms and returned to me. How I wished you had stability.
Precious child, as your sister was cooking and born 9 weeks premature, how I wished I had the support to care for you at home, instead of having to send you away. How I wished you had a close bond with your little sister from the day she was born, instead of being shooed away as she needed so much care and time. How I wished your mother wasn’t so sick that she almost died also.
How I wished I was there for you when you had trouble at school. You are an amazing little kid, teaching yourself to read by watching your brother learn to read. And thinking of the idea of reading the first few pages of a book you didn’t like, some from the middle, and the ending, so you could get rid of it quickly and get a book you did like, that’s amazing! Funny little thing! How I wished the school years weren’t so difficult for you. Constantly watching out and fighting for the kids who were on the outskirts, but I guess it taught you lessons about empathy, justice and things like that, that you may not have learnt. If I was your mother, I would let the food burn on the stove, or turn it off, as I took you on my knee and listened to the cares of your day. I would have let you cried your tears instead of forcing you to bottle them up. I would have reminded you that tears are God’s gift and there is no shame in shedding them. They are healing to the soul and full of nutrients for your eyes. Tears are a special gift for women. We can shed them when we are happy, sad, or not even sure why we need to shed them, and all of that is ok.
If I was your mother, I’d like to think that all the times I walked out on your Father, I would have come back, got you at least, and kept on walking. I’d like to think that I had the courage to choose a real man to be your father, not just some long haired wanna be hippy. I’d like to think I’d choose a real man who knew how to love gently and respectfully, who knew how to teach you gently and encourage you instead of demeaning you, who knew how to encourage you and lift you up, instead of tearing you down piece by piece. A man who didn’t have to use fear to rule and instruct those around him. A man who was willing to learn and willing to apologised when he made a mistake. A man who loved you in a healthy way, instead of abusing you.
Precious child, if I was your mother, I would have let you shift schools earlier instead of making you endure the torment of your school years for so long. Instead of placing you in a different school to give your brother a chance without you around, I would have seen the importance of you needing to be in a school environment that suited you as well, not just one that suited your sister and one that suited your brother.
If I was your mother, I would have tried to find out who kept knocking off your pet cats, and put an end to that. I would have understood your loss and grief.
If I was your mother, I would have held you while you mourned the loss of your favourite Uncle, and I would have let you come along to the funeral also, instead of just taking your brother so he could watch out for Roos on the road.
If I was your mother, I would have embraced the friendship you had with your cousin and let you two grow and explore.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have emotionally blackmailed you.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have beaten you with the extension cord or let your father belt you on your bear bum until you bleed.
If I was your mother and saw your grim determination not to feel being smacked with anything, I would have found another way to discipline you, not punish you. For disciplining teaches and guides. Punishment only hurts and causes anger.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have made you knee down and confess your sins after beating you. Instead of introducing you to a God of revenge, punishment, fire and brim stone and a burning hell that last forever if you were bad, I would have introduced you to the loving God of the bible who wants to be in relationship with us. Who wants to connect with us. Who loved and accepted women and children, and treated them with respect, even if it was against the culture of the day. I would have introduced you to Jesus who loved you, just as you are. The Jesus who appropriately put all the religious nutters in their place and challenged them to refocus on what it meant to live in community with each other.
If I was your mother and you came to me, telling me of the abuse my cousin and your brother did to you, I would have reported it to the police, instead of brushing it off.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have bashed your head against a brick wall because I was frustrated with you.
If I was your mother, I would have done all I could to help find out why you wet the bed, and support you in learning to overcome that. I wouldn’t have rubbed your nose in it, or belted your bear butt for something you had no control over. I wouldn’t have made you wear copious layers of perfume to block the smell, and tell you to sit next to a window because you stank. Instead, I would have let you had the time to wash in fresh water, not just the old soapy water your father had bathed in.
If I was your mother, I would have let you warn jeans everywhere and be yourself, instead of insisting you wore a dress and kicking you out of the car to walk home because I didn’t understand what was tormenting you.
If I was your mother, I would have worked hard at having a good safe relationship with you, so you felt you could tell me ANYTHING.
If I was your mother, when you received your VCE results, I would have rejoiced with you, proclaiming how proud I was of you, instead of saying “you’re really going to leave me aren’t you?”
If I was your mother, when you came to me after dark and the blood was running down your legs, I would have asked you what happened and listened tenderly as I cleaned the wounds, instead of tearing strips off you because you were back after dark and anything could have happened to you. I would have packed you up there and then, returning to the safety of our home, away from that monster. I would have helped you report the incident to the police instead of shaming you into silence. I would have given you a few days off school to heal, and let you wear pants, so you didn’t have to answer awkward questions about what happened to your legs.
If I was your mother and I knew what your father was doing to you, I wouldn’t have remained silent. I would have taken out an intervention order against him and fled to my mother’s house with you, to help you be safe again.
If I was your mother and you came home on crutches, to hop in my bed and tell me in the safety of darkness what you endured as a little one, I would have reacted so differently. I would have embraced you and apologised for all that you endured. I would have thanked you for trusting me with what you shared, instead of telling you “it happens to everyone and dead dogs stink when you dig them up.” I would have contacted the police, and supported you through telling them and whatever steps we needed to take together to address the criminal offences done to you. I would have told you “it wasn’t your fault”.
If I was your mother and I came home and found you cutting or trying to gas yourself in the oven, I would have taken us both out of the house, or locked us both in your room, until you told me what was going on. And if you still refused, I would have taken you to the hospital and anywhere else I could find where you could get support that I couldn’t give you.
If I was your mother and we were arguing in the kitchen and I said “what’s wrong with you? Anyone would think you’ve been abused or something”. When you responded with “well what do you think?” and stormed off, I would have followed you. I would have admitted I didn’t know what to think and invited you to tell me. I would have promised that I would do all in my power for you to be safe again.
If I was your mother, when you didn’t get into the college you wanted to, to study teaching, I would have done all I could to get you into it. And if that failed, I would have encouraged you to study at least something at college, then transfer after completing first year into teaching, instead of sticking you with the burden of being someone you didn’t want to be.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have constantly told you “you just wait until you have children of your own, then I’ll get my revenge”. Instead, I would have done all I could to try and reconnect with you.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have criticized you as you became a mother. I wouldn’t have knocked your partner and bad mouthed him every chance I got. If I didn’t think he was suitable for you, I would have asked you questions to make you think about your decisions, and loved you anyway.
If I was your mother, on your wedding day, I wouldn’t have told you not to come home if you had an argument or anything. Instead I would have told you that the door is open if you need to reassess the relationship, for sometimes relationships change once the wedding is done. And if he ever hit you, come home!
If I was your mother, I would have respected the boundaries and choices you and your husband made as you struggled to become parents and a little family of your own. I would have looked on becoming a grandmother as a delight and respected your parenting decisions, instead of criticising them. I certainly wouldn’t have gloated over your husband breaking his leg the day you came home from hospital with your difficult little bundle and I wouldn’t have gloated that she was so difficult. Instead, I would have supported you as best I knew how, and made an effort to find out how to support you more, if that is what you wanted.
If I was your mother and you wanted to sit with my father as he died, I would have let you. I would have made sure you could be at the front of the funeral to say goodbye, instead of being pushed to the back by all the onlookers because you had a baby.
If I was your mother and your favourite grandmother died, I would have taken you to say goodbye to her, instead of letting you do that alone with your family. I would have held the little ones if you wanted me too, and helped them say goodbye too. I wouldn’t have questioned your decision to let them do that, for death is as natural as birth and nothing to shun or hide from. Once again, I would have let you be in the front to say goodbye instead of pushing you to the back. And I would have insisted the mongrels who abused you did not trespass on this sacred time for you.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have insisted that the daughter of the uncle who abused you be in your wedding party, especially after I already knew that he abused you. I would have insisted he stayed right away from the wedding. I would have given you a choice if you wanted your father to be part of the wedding or not.
If I was your mother, I wouldn’t have read your diaries, letters, barged in on you without knocking, cleaned your room for you then interrogate you and told you how bad you were for not cleaning your room. I would have respected your privacy.
If I was your mother and I for some stupid reason read your diary while you were having surgery and found out my husband had abused you, I would have left him. I would have raged at what he had done to you. I would have apologised that it happened, and I didn’t know. I would have asked you if you wanted to report it to the police and supported you in your decision. I would have told him to leave, or left him myself. I wouldn’t have accused you of being selfish and not thinking of the rest of the family. The shit would have hit the fan at my house, and hell would have had to be paid there, not forcing it on you.
If I was your mother, and you told me my son was abusing your sister, I would have kicked the bastard out. I would have praised you for making it possible for your sister to go to a school with her best friend and board. I would have made sure she got the help she needed. I would have reported him to the police and held him accountable. I would not have accused you of trying to split the family, but praised you for standing up against a criminal.
If I was your mother, and my son abused your son, I’d be supporting you and my grandson as you went through the court system. I would have told my son that he had to wear the consequences for his choice, his action.
If I was your mother and you told me as a child your brother was abusing other children, I would have listened to you and sort help for him way back then, instead of hushing you up.
If I was your mother, as you became a courageous woman, standing up against the injustice and criminal stuff you endured as a child, I’d be there with you, encouraging you during the hard times. I’d be there for your book launch and wanting the first signed copy. I’d be in the front seat as you spoke out, smiling and encouraging you. I’d be there with safe arms to fall into after you spoke out, and reminded you of the importance of being gentle and nurturing to you.
If I was your mother, I’d be there for you as you struggled with raising two kids on the spectrum and all that comes with that. I’d be there when you were facing loosing your husband. I would have been there for you as you were learning to walk again after your car accidents. I would have cleaned and cooked and helped as you wanted, giving you the freedom to attempt things as you were ready, and pushing you to try if you were scared to fail.
If I was your mother, I’d like to think I would teach you what it meant to be a woman and all that involved. Encouraging you each step of your life. Encouraging you to let the tears flow. Encouraging you to be the best you could be in your own uniqueness. If I was your mother, I’d like to think we could be friends and share an awesome connection as adult women. That you could come to me and spend time with me just being. That if you needed to debrief and chat over something, I would be there. And as I needed you, I’d let you help me. If I was your mother, I wonder what sort of awesome woman you would be today?
However, I am not your mother, for that was not to be. Instead, you are a part of me, and I am a part of you. Together we are us. Together we are me. Together we are you. Together I can teach you that you are no longer in those unsafe places that spanned your life. Together we can learn to nurture each other. You can teach me to laugh and play. I can teach you that you are safe and cared for. Together, we can share our love. Together, we can be free.