Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Mother's Day is bittersweet for many women in our housing programs. It is often their first Mother's Day out of prison and for those who are in recovery, it is usually the first time in a long time to be clean and sober and be able to see their kids.
Why can Mother's Day be difficult for our residents at Rachel's House?
Right now at Rachel's House we have a couple of women who have done long prison sentences. This is their first Mother's Day out in freedom and to be with their kids, so it's obviously a joyous experience. Then we have some women whose mothers have passed away while they were in prison and they may not have gotten the chance to reconcile their relationships or say goodbye. It's just a fresh reminder of "oh, this is actually real."
For some, either their kids are in permanent custody with somebody else or they've been adopted. For these types of moms, Mother's Day is just a blunt reminder of the decisions that they've made in the past and brings up very raw emotions.
We love that there is nowadays a lot of emphasis on generally celebrating all moms or people that have been like a mother to you. There are a lot of spiritual moms that might have been more of a mother to you than perhaps your own mother.
What are some of the difficulties our ex-offenders at Rachel's House face while working towards being reunited with their children?
Sometimes, even for the women that have reunited, they're happy to be with their kids, but then they have a lot of guilt and shame because they've not been in their kid's lives. After talking with the women, I have come to understand that a lot of the difficulty comes from the knowledge that maybe you weren't the mother that you wanted to be, but now you have the opportunity to start again. There are issues, especially if the kids are older, often because of the experiences the kids went through with their mother when she was in addiction or if she was just absent from their life.
How can ex-offenders rebuild trust with their children after prison?
Rebuilding trust can be difficult, but a lot of our women are grateful to now have that fresh opportunity. Trust develops over time. If I was to give advice to others who are working towards being reunited with their children it would be to be patient, not to rush it and take one small step at a time. Make sure they know you love them, care for them, and are available to them and their needs.
A couple of the ladies at Rachel's House right now are actively involved in their kid's lives. One has two teenage sons, another has kids who are grown in their 40's and 50's and then there's one whose son is 11. Another has not been a part of her young son's life, but is working on visitation. While she is excited to finally see him, she is also very nervous because, in her words, "I don't know if he'll remember me. I just want to be his mom, but I don't know how to be a mom." There's a lot that they are all working through and in time it will get easier, but I am so proud of them for taking a brave step forward every day.
So today on Mother's Day we send our love to ALL mothers - adoptive mothers, single mothers, spiritual mothers, mothers who have recently been reunited with their children. We think of moms who are struggling with shame and guilt of the past and moms who don't have custody of their kids. Mothers who have miscarried, potential moms who are facing infertility, and those whose children have passed away. We recognize this can be a bittersweet day and we send our love to you all. 💕
Will you help provide a memory for a Mom reuniting with her kids?
This Mother's day we have gifted the mom's in Rachel's House and Family Housing a photoshoot for her and her children.
Will you help provide this treasured memory to our moms for a suggested donation of $100? This will include the photoshoot, 2 printed and framed photos, and her hair appointment at Lower Lights Salon.