Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I have not always been a good mother. In the beginning, when my children were very young, I performed all of the tasks that a country woman would tackle. I made my children’s clothing, grew my own fruit and vegetables, canned and froze the food to last until the next summer. I baked them a pie every day, from pumpkins I grew, berries and apples I picked on my own property, peaches and cherries I picked in orchards, and also did other baking. Chili sauce, relish, catsup, pickles, were all canned or bottled. We had a side of beef in one of the two freezers, along with a whole hog. These I purchased from my sister and brother-in-law, as they raised them on their farm.

Along with clothing and feeding the four children, I worked at enriching their minds. I provided them with books and workbooks to study, even before they started attending school. Trips to the zoo, science museum, and other interesting locations aided their learning experiences. After they started school, I became very involved in each child’s education. Special schools for gifted children, enrichment programs that I organized or helped run, educational committees to improve the schools, all these were a very important part of my life at the time.

Some time after this point, everything fell apart. I became too interested in various jobs and groups to pay enough attention to my children. I had eventually left their father, or, in reality, asked him to leave. Then, each child in turn became torn between living with their father or staying with me. At one point, they all left. The oldest had basically run away, moving in with friends, the second one married, and the last two went to live with their father. My youngest was around twelve years old at the beginning of this downhill slide, and he was sixteen when I finally left the area to “seek my fortune”. I was just as unhappy as my children were, and hoped to find a better life somewhere else.

I did not find a better life, although I had many interesting, and at times, harrowing, experiences. After traveling across the country, I eventually ended up in Texas, where I remained for five years. During these years, I returned to Buffalo many times to visit my children. A good share of the time, this involved driving alone, although my two daughters took turns living with me for a while and made the trip. My youngest son also visited, but wanted to return to his father. I was very lonely, and at one point I saw a photo of my first grandchild as a baby, being aided in standing by a young man. I asked who that man was – it was my son in California and I didn’t even recognize him. I cried.

I returned to New York State, to the area where I grew up, and eventually my youngest son moved in with me. We worked at the same business, and spent much time together. We had many things in common, and enjoyed being together, at that point. My two daughters lived two hours away, and were having their own children by then. It was possible for me to visit them fairly easily. I was living near my mother and siblings, so, for awhile, life was not too bad. My oldest son was still in California, though, so I did not see him very often at all.

I moved to California in 1991, after visiting my son and deciding that I loved the area. Now, there is the dilemma of being separated from the others. One daughter generally stays in the Buffalo area, but the other one has lived in Virginia, and is in Florida at this point. The youngest son is in Buffalo, although he lived in California for three years, and was living with me part of that time. I suppose it is impossible to live near all of them at the same time, and children will not necessarily remain near a parent, but I feel so alienated so much of the time. The phone is good, the internet is great, but I feel a real need to be a more important part of each child’s life. I should have realized that when I was thinking only of myself and running all over this country.


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