This I Believe

Leslie - Ashburn, Virginia
Entered on October 3, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

A Mother’s Endurance

When I gave birth to my son in 1977, I knew what his life would be like. He would grow up in a loving home, follow the examples of his parents, go to college, become successful and raise a family of his own. That did not happen. I often wonder, as a parent, where I failed my son. I picture his face and feel his innocence as a child as if it were just yesterday. He is now turning 30 and doing time for drug trafficking. He has a 9 year old son of his own. My son is an absentee father. What went wrong? When did he, or was it I, who took the wrong turn on this road of life? I suspect I will never really know that exact moment in time. I question my purpose as a Mother and what I have accomplished during my days on earth. I, the example, had failed at that royally. The one, most important job on earth, being a parent, I had screwed up.

Up until the day of his arrest, I had prayed for God to spare my son. I had prayed that I would not have to plan his funeral, a picture I had often imagined. I prayed that I would never again have to look into his hollow, drug induced eyes. I prayed that I could change his life and transform it to the one I had imagined in my dreams. I prayed for one more chance at motherhood. I somehow suspect that God answered my prayers in his own unique way the very day my son was handcuffed and taken to jail. The good news was, he had been spared by God. The bad news was, he was a caged animal now and only through his faith, would he be able to endure this unimaginable existence.

The months and years ahead for me and my son would prove to be a valuable venture. During his years of incarceration, we have exchanged dozens of letters. Our letters speak a special language that only a mother and son can understand. We have created our own dialogue covering every possible topic, from culinary prison recipes to yoga techniques. Our letters laugh, cry, triumph and speak the truth. Yes, I say truth. This exchange of words has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I have learned from my son that some of my maternal examples were worthy of him. He writes in his letters about the precious memories of his childhood. He speaks of the many things I taught him and expresses his love as a son. I think that perhaps I have not failed him. I think that God has awakened the truth and value in his life. God has taught me that my parenting skills have never been the least bit rusty. It is through my letters that I believe I am still the example, the teacher, and the loving mother.