Do you have any children?

Hello Beautiful Souls,

It is a beautiful day here in Florida.  The sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing.  The wildlife is playing in the yard.  My soul is at peace.  I love to sit and reflect during these times.  Today, I am reflecting on motherhood.   I love it when some asks me, “do you have any children?”  I smile and answer, “Why yes, as a matter of fact I have 42.”  Then I giggle as I watch the look on their faces as they try to comprehend this.  Their next statement is usually, “oh, so you were a foster mother.”  Again I smile and sweetly answer, “no.”  They get this look of horror on their faces and I begin to laugh.   Then I tell them my story.

I was raised as an only child.  My half brother was 12 years older than me and got married when I was 7, leaving me alone at home.  I had a very loving father and a very  emotionally abusive mother. Over the years, I was pretty much a loner only having 1 or 2 friends at a time.  My choice.  I am the type of person who give 110% to everything I do, and I felt I couldn’t devote my time to more than 1 or 2 people at one time.   The closest thing I had to a sister, was my best friend Dooley.  We were pretty much inseparable.   But even though I had her in my life, there were time I wished I had siblings to share things with.  I decided I would not raise an only child and have him/her go through what I did growing up.

I had my first child  four days before my 21st birthday.  It was a bittersweet moment.  Why?  Because I had spent most of the 9 months of my pregnancy crying out to God that I didn’t want it.  My husband left me 2 months into my pregnancy and then proceeded to harass me about how much he loved me and wanted me when I knew he was having an affair and living with another woman.  He thought because I was in Florida and he was in Michigan that I wouldn’t know about it.  Because of him, I was an emotional mess and felt I was in no way qualified or emotionally stable enough to raise a child on my own.  I had watched what my brother had been through when he and his wife divorced and what it had done to the children.  I didn’t want that for my child.  Well, God listened.  My son was born with underdeveloped lungs and only lived 18 hours.  I got my wish.  Problem was, the moment he was born, I changed my mind.  When I held his tiny little 4 # 7 oz body in my arms I fell in love.  The guilt and grief was almost unbearable.  I slipped into a very deep depression and became basically a recluse.  My life consisted of work, church and hiding in my room.  On the first anniversary of my son’s death, I met a man at church and began dating him.  Two months later we were married.   We had discussed having children before when got married.  (Years later, 30 years later as a matter of fact, I found out he never wanted children.  He told my daughter he only had them to make me happy and his obligation to my happiness ended when they were born.  But that is another story for another time.)

We had been married for 7 months and I started feeling ill and putting on weight. I went to the doctor all excited just knowing I had to be pregnant.  They did the test.  The doctor walked in and I could tell by the look on his face something was wrong.  The news I received was not what I was expecting or wanting to hear.   I had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on my ovary and they had to do surgery and depending what they found when they got inside, they may have to take everything.  I was facing the chance that I would never have children.  He might as well have punched me in the guts because that is how I felt at that moment.   Surgery was scheduled.   The guilt began to rise up again for asking to have my first one taken away and felt like I was being punished for it.   When they were prepping me for surgery, I cried and cried.  An older nurse held my hand and prayed with me.  She stayed with me and held my hand as they put me under.  When I came to after surgery, she was still holding my hand and told me it was just a large cyst filled with fluid and they were able to drain it and remove it without taking anything else.  I cried again, but this time for joy.  I felt I had been forgiven.  Ten months later, my beautiful daughter, Raven, was born.  The light and joy of my life.  True to my promise, 3 years later, after a very difficult pregnancy, I gave birth to twins.  However, one of the twins had absorbed into the placenta and never developed properly.  I grieved only briefly for the child lost because I had two beautiful children and they became my whole life.   So, I gave birth to 4 and lost 2 children, but that is only the beginning of the story.

I had a heart for children.  I couldn’t stand to see them hurt or abused.  I took in our first “stray” when my daughter was 7 months old.  His mother had died of leukemia.  He had been sent to live with his father ( a friend of my ex-husband’s), who had never accepted paternity.  His father ended up in jail and he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents, whom also denied paternity.  Here was a 17 year old boy who had been sent 800 miles from his childhood home and all he ever known and loved to a hostile environment. I ran into him at the grocery store putting up stock with tears rolling down his face.  I asked him what was wrong and he told me he didn’t know where he was going to sleep that night because his grandmother had kicked him out and he had no where to go.  I told him I would pick him up after work and he could stay with us.   After he went to school the next day, I received a call from the school telling me I was now his legal guardian because his grandparents had called DCF and signed all rights over to me.  That is how it began.  Over the next 20 years, I had 23 teens come through my home.  I also worked at a girl’s home and they started calling me Mom.  When I went to work at a call center in 2003, the young girls seem to flock to me asking for advice and they started calling me Mom.  My children’s friends, those from broken homes with abusive or absentee parents, started calling me Mom.  Forty-two “children” in all.  And believe me, it was never easy.  Never doubt your worthiness if you are a mother, no matter how rough your days may get.  My journey as a mother which started with deep feelings of guilt was turned into a very bountiful blessing!

Blessings

Ceri

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