By Alexia Rowley, 15th November 2016

Never Judge an Absent Mother

Not all Mums Live with their Children

Not all Mums Live with their Children

This is something I have wanted to write for a while, but didn’t know if I should, and if I did, where I would publish it? Then I found The Glass House Girls, and they are not afraid to talk about issues that seem a bit ‘taboo’ and it clicked; a place that may understand that families don’t all look the same, sometimes mothers are not the primary care giver and sometimes mothers may not even live with their children. Yet they are mothers nonetheless.

Having come from a home where we didn’t live together as the traditional and socially acceptable unit that one might imagine, this is an issue I feel strongly about.

We are a society that in general are too quick to judge. A ‘family’ should consist of a mother, father, 2.4 kids (how you get the .4 I will never know) and of course a dog and cat. At least that is the depiction of a family we are shown as children, right? In all the books, pictures and diagrams. Only these days, that is not the case anymore.

A mother’s love comes in many forms and some mothers are not able to live with their children. This could be for a multitude of reasons.

They may not feel able to be the type of mother their child deserves and take the decision that maybe they are better off living away from the ‘family home’.

They may have mental health or addiction issues that prevent them from being the care giver they wish they could be.

They may have to work overseas and travel away for large parts of the year, or due to a divorce, they may have a custody battle and so may not be able to live with their child.

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How often to we see images of these families in textbooks?

In my family’s case, my parents fought a bitter, long legal case in which a man with a gable behind a big oak desk decided where their child should live despite my own mother’s wishes.

My mum wanted all her children to live with her but sadly a middle-aged, white man who had never met any of us until the court day, decided the fate of our family, and as siblings, we were split up.

I was ‘placed’ with my mum and my brother with my dad.

A heart-breaking and ‘wrong’ ruling in my opinion.

It is also a decision, taken by someone outside of our family unit, which to my annoyance, has caused us all shame.

I hate telling people that my brother didn’t live with me. As the words leave my lips I can see the face of the other person change ever so subtly. I watch the judgment creep across their face. They are judging my mum and this really upsets me, even now 25 years later.

So I ask you, just because some women do not live with their children are they any less the child’s mother?

Do they love them any less because their choices are different? Even if a mother ‘chooses’ to live elsewhere, do we have a right to judge the level of their love and commitment?

Can you imagine how harshly they are already judging themselves? Does it help when society jumps on the bandwagon and condemns mothers who don’t live with their children?

This issue is one that will always play close to my heart and I am not sure it will ever feel less painful – so I write this article not for sympathy or even to show people how I have changed my mindset to accept the pain I feel. I write this to raise awareness.

Let’s be kind to each other and open our minds.

Think twice before you judge. We should not judge situations we know nothing about.

So if you do hear of a mother living apart from her children, please don’t jump to conclusions; the journey that mother has been on is probably painful enough, and you never know if one day you will find yourself in a similar situation, through no fault of your own.

(Note from The Editor: Many thanks to Alexia Rowley from Roots&Wings Parenting for sharing her story with us. To read more about Alexia or more of her work, you can check out her author page here, or visit her own Facebook page.) 

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