I’m not sure where to start. Should I start at the beginning? A-when I held you for the first time after that 28-hour labor, knowing a love like no other? M-when I brought you home and you refused to eat, trying everything while I was alone, worried that you were losing weight? I had no money, no support, no phone…I’m not sure I’ve ever told you how hard that first week was.

I was thinking about all the good times we’ve had. I was a good mom. I made almost every decision after having you around YOU. Date nights? No, my kids are too small and I already leave them because I have to work to pay the bills. Travel alone? I don’t think so. Leave overnight with others? Yeah, right. Instead, we had slumber parties, backyard fun, visited every park in SA, went to the zoo, and had fun river trips.

Remember Hooked on Phonics? Yup, I bought that $200 system and sat with you until you could read. I sat with you on lots of homework nights, and I always made every effort to get what you needed for school. A, I drove 25 min to your school and back to work to have a short lunch with you weekly that one year I worked across town. We moved that year. I didn’t want you to go to that terrible school with kinder kids who said the F word, so I worked especially hard that year to get a down payment on a new home in a nice neighborhood where kindergarteners didn’t say the F word.

M, you learned to love to read. I remember wanting to buy you every good book you wanted. I never wanted you to feel like I did as a kid when I couldn’t afford ANY books. I remember your dad teaching you to ride a bike. I remember him teaching you to swim and then throwing you in the water and you loved it. Both of you did. I loved massaging you at bedtime and telling you bedtime stories or reading books like The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (I loved that one!) until one day you told me you were too old for the stories. Thankfully your little brother milked those through middle school. And here I am doing it again with the littles.

Remember when I bought every episode ever of Little House on the Prairie and we watched them over and over? Country girls! M, I remember when Daisy died. You were so heartbroken. It still hurts me when I think about it. She was your baby. Remember the big Teen party we had for y’all? C got you girls a limo and all the girls got fancy dresses (yours were gorgeous), and y’all were silly at the Valero with everyone staring at you beautiful girls. It was fun letting loose and eating downtown. That took some coordination and effort. I so wanted you to have a special dress-up day.

I remember getting up some days to make you tacos, all pregnant, for you and your friends in high school. A-I was telling little C about your 18th birthday. How we bought you a car and how big your already big eyes got when your stepdad drove it into your big backyard party. He did so much work for that party. He let me buy you those crazy boots even after we had already gotten the car. He is such a good stepdad. M- I wish you had been around for your 18th. I would have loved to spend the last 3 birthdays with you. I also would have loved if y’all had thought of me on mine. I was waiting for my girls to grow up and spoil me with a party one day, but that was not meant to be.

The disappointment hurts. I guess I wanted to remind you of a few good times because you have probably forgotten in all the mess of me leaving Merie’s church. Such a tough time. But in the end, I had to follow my conscience. I remember A asking me why I was no longer going. I couldn’t lie. I don’t think I was ever very good at lying to you. I’ve been up all night thinking about you. Again.

Sometimes I wonder if those same people who told me I was a good mom then still remind you now. Or do they go along with the bad mom theory. I don’t know. It all makes me sad. I wish things weren’t the way they are. I wish I could just have walked away without a big stink, threats of withdrawal, moving you out the same day, tearing our family apart yet again. I think of those I dearly loved who betrayed me, taking the ones I loved most away from me, turning their hearts away. The ones you call your family now.

I hope every time you say MOM to someone else, you remember that she did not earn it. It is stolen. It is mine. I wear that name proudly still; no one can take what I have earned. A few weeks ago I had a real tough day. It all started with a song called “When She Loved Me.” It felt like you had died. Not in the “you’re dead to me” kind of way, but in the “I haven’t seen or touched or heard them” kind of way. It’s been so long I haven’t seen you (and even the few times I did, you have kept your distance) that a part of me felt like you girls were no longer existing. I cried for hours and hours. I had to remind myself that you’re still here, maybe God is working something.

I do know that He has given me freedom from oppression and I have so much more peace in my life (except for our unresolved situation). He also gave me 3 little gifts that keep my heart balanced, many times filled with joy. My little L is a gift. She reminds me of you both, and I think I have a chance to do things better this time around. L was asking for M a lot lately. It surprised me. He’s not 4 yet, but somehow he remembered you after 7 months of no contact. Children are the best. They have the softest hearts.

All those years you lived with me, I never asked or wanted you to leave. Your home will always be your home should you need it. Your family will always be here, even through disagreements. Not just us, but your grandparents and all of our extended family. Everyone misses you both and wonders what kind of place separates families constantly.

We understand so much more now and continue to move forward. Sometimes I wonder if this whole “not talking to us” thing is a way to get us to go back. Unfortunately, we have seen too much of how Merie’s organization destroys the very families that God gave us and we know that is not in His plans for families. He did not give us to families just to destroy them. It is all too common there. Neither of your 3 parents is perfect. Yet here we are in all our imperfection, still loving you. There is so much more I want to say, but all that always leads to strife, so I will leave it. I wish you well and we will pray for you as we have every night since you left.

~Mom.