Some of you may remember last summer. How we trusted a woman-another mother, and she broke our trust, horribly. I teetered on the trust edge, trying to push myself away from my natural state of distrust to open my heart, help her and her terribly unattached wild son, try to give some stability to their lives, a friend for Viv.
One day, she took my kids, and her son, to the local amusement park. And left them there. The police called me and told me what happened, and I was shocked, but glad they were safe, also livid in my head, but outwardly calm and normal. The woman burst in my house soon after, sobbing her apologies. The kids were confused, but otherwise unaffected. I let my anger stewed, gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Soon after I learned she was a recovering addict on methadone, had a criminal record, and regularly locked my kids out of her house and made them pee in the bushes. I cringe to think what Vivian doesn’t tell me.
The final straw, the one that finally made it ok for me to say no to her, to their father who was a little more trusting, was the day she took Rosalyn without asking, just left a note, and when confronted said that she told Ros to give the note to her father as he drummed, and that we should discipline her because she didn’t do it.
We should punish a 4 year old for not telling her Dad another adult was taking her from her own house.
I was so inflamed I made him deal with it. To look at her I knew I would rip her limb from limb. She didn’t get it, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when she finally moved away.
I feel for her son, her lonely lashing son, who I worry doesn’t stand a chance.
But then a few weeks back, a knock at my door. Social services, wanting to follow up. Procedure, to check, to interview. I hate the idea, but I’ll deal with it. They’re doing their job.
Today I sat through a humiliating interview asking me about school, their personalities, how I parent, why and what things happened. When. Will I be punished if I don’t remember exactly when things happened? Will I be blamed because I went with my husband at the time, and tried to show some trust and compassion for the woman, tried to help her son, the poor lost poor?
I nearly felt my brain boil out of my ears when the social worker told me that the main reason for the visit was that I didn’t show any concern when the cop called.
I am my mother’s daughter. When things go bad, you do not show fear. You do not show emotion. You become polite and well mannered and understanding. You burn on the inside. And I knew they were safe, then. While I was frantic inside, wondering, angry and smouldering, I’m not going to freak out on the phone with the police. They were safe. I would save my ire for the woman who left my children alone for over an hour in an amusement park.
I dealt with a social worker examining my every move for 40 minutes today, questioning “do I spank? Have I hit” because someone perceived that my reaction OVER THE PHONE was not enough.
Sounds familiar. Sounds like a certain Twitter incident. The assumption, based on going off half cocked. Using a forum that does not provide enough inputs in terms of body language and context to come to an opinion.
THAT makes me angry. The fact that my lack of response, which for me, is normal, came back to haunt me. I freak out after, when I start thinking about the what ifs. But with a police officer? I’m going to be polite and calm, as I was raised to be. Keep my composure.
(The constant worry that because I can be deemed crazy they might take my kids at any time also keeps me under a tight rope with law enforcement. Which I imagine can be perceived oddly.)
So I stood today, staring at my house, the unfinished walls, the doors with no handles, the clothes and paper strewn on the floor because I cannot do it all myself, and lived for years with someone who had no desire to DO anything about it-I stood there feeling humiliated and embarrassed that having wonderful, intelligent awesome kids might not be enough-that my inability to keep a clean house might haunt my, that my honesty that yes, I’ve swatted Ros on the butt to keep her off a busy street-I’m not terrified that these thing will cause problems I can never be rid of.
And don’t get me started with how she had ZERO desire to speak with their father. Apparently this? Is all MY fault. Despite my constant assertions to him last summer that I’d prefer someone else watch the kids, even if it cost money. I didn’t throw him under the bus, but it was more than a little fucking painful to be stared at like this was all my fault when I did nothing but try and trust a woman my heart and mind told me to stay well away from.
So the what ifs start in my head again. I KNOW I’m a good mother-a little flighty, chaotic and not the neatest, but I am raising women who will roar. And I want to cry because I worry, I fucking fear in my heart, that the people I am creating, molding, will not matter half as much as someone’s half baked idea of how clean a home should be.
Why am I being punished? Why just me?
And ultimately, what if this punishes my daughters? All we did was try and cultivate a friend for Vivian, try and do the right compassionate thing in trying to give that little boy a soft place to land. We trusted.
And we were wrong.