My childhood memories of my mother consist of her constant worrying about whether we're safe, warm, and not hungry. I remember those annoying mitten holders I was forced to wear on the sleeves of my winter coat to make sure I always had my gloves. Or those annoying snow pants I had to fight my way into. When my brother came home from school with his eye practically hanging out the socket from getting beat up by bullies, I remember the way she jumped into her car, tires screeching to confront them. I also remember thinking my mother was going to prison, but it worked out fine. ; ) She put her own health on the line, working constructions jobs to keep food on the table. All these things she did for us. She's the type of mother I want to be one day.
don't understand is how someone could just throw their flesh and blood
away without a passing glance. For nearly a year, my mother has been
raising her niece's, my cousin's baby. The whole saga started last
January when she received a call that my cousin was giving birth at the
hospital. It came as a surprise to us since we'd just talked to the
girl, who's in her early twenties back in October and she hadn't
mentioned anything about even being pregnant. Since the girl's mother,
my mom's sister had just moved out of state, my mother went to see about
her and the baby.
immediately fell in love with the 3 pound preemie and promised to do
everything she could for her. Since my cousin was close to getting
evicted from her place and the government was in her business because
the child was born with drugs in her system, my mother came to the
decision to take care of the baby until she could get herself together. I
was skeptical at first, fearing that Mom was taking on too much, like
she tends to do. With my mother, myself, and my two sisters sharing an
apartment, it was a group effort but we all did our part to take care of
the baby from the time she left the hospital.
the mother could barely take care of herself, Mom paid for everything
the baby needed out of her pocket, from clothes, to diapers and
furniture. Mom provided while all the girl and her family could offer
were thank you's. Mom isn't the type to worry about getting paid back
for her efforts, she does it because it's the right thing to do and God
will see to her having what she needs. The sleepless nights and 3 am
feedings belonged to my mother, who's staring down the throat of 60,
works 40 hours a week and goes to dialysis 3 times a week.
the meantime, she coached my cousin on getting support for the baby,
including WIC for the formula, and making sure the baby got part of the
father's income from the government. My cousin came to get the baby late
in the spring and 3 months later we got a call from her saying that she
needed us to take the baby again.
relationship with the baby's father was taking an abusive turn and she
was moving out of town to be with my aunt. The baby was returned to us
in deplorable conditions. Her eczema was out of control, diaper rash had
run rampant, and the clothes my mother sent when she gave her back the
first time were filthy with most of them having to be thrown away. Once
my mother got her home the poor thing guzzled three bottles of milk
until we could go get more formula. The vouchers for the food and milk
that the government gave for free had not been used and the lump sum of
money my cousin received for her child, definitely wasn't spent on her.
cousin left with promises of sending a portion of the baby's money
every month for expenses, but that's one promise that hasn't been
fulfilled. Since she skipped town we've only seen $100 of the promised
money and we haven't heard from her in nearly two months. When she does
call it becomes an 'I'm a bad mother' docudrama worthy of Lifetime TV
where she wants to rope you into feeling sorry for her. The focus turns
to her, not to the baby she left. I see that the longer she's away from
her child the more disassociated she becomes, the bond between mother
and child broken.
The baby is doing just
fine and approaching her first birthday. She's smart, loves to talk, and
is happy as she can be. But kids grow up and one day she's going to
have questions. How will her mother explain why she abandoned her and
took off with the money that was intended for her care? How will she
tell her daughter she didn't do all she could to make sure she was taken
care of? Isn't that what mothers are supposed to do?