When you’re a mother, fear is the job description.
As a mother you learn about fear in ways like never before. You’re always afraid–always. About everything from the kids falling out of bed, getting hit by a car, kidnappers, to the weather. There is nothing that can’t hurt our kids. But the last thing that would cross your mind is the fear of you hurting your children. Never in a million years did I think that I’d be the one to break their hearts. The same hearts that I worked so hard to protect. To make a mistake, one bad decision, that landed me in prison for 17 years. Those 17 years take me away from the most critical times in their lives, when they will and have needed me the most.
I have 3 children Xavier, Jalaysia and Jazanae. They are my world and I just live in it. They’re my purpose, motivation and teachers; my purpose for living, my motivation to keep going and to get out of bed every day, my teachers because every day is a learning experience. I will always be a mother before I am anything.
Xavier is 15. A teenage boy, going through puberty, discovering who he is, what he wants to be in the midst of it all. He lives with his grandmother. Four and a half years ago, he was separated from his sisters and his parents. Xavier is ADHD and has always had angry outbursts. He was already an angry little fellow at a young age. It was very challenging. As the years have passed through the current situation, he has only gotten worse. But to be honest, I wouldn’t change anything about him. I will love him through it and guide him the best way I know how.
From the first time I felt him move in my belly to the day he officially made me a mother, I have loved him unconditionally. The delivery alone should have told me he was going to give me a run for my money.
Now today as I receive pictures of him, my heart aches. To watch him turning into a man and having to watch it happen through pictures and conversations over the phone. He is no longer mommy’s baby boy, standing at almost 6 feet and a little over 200 pounds. Now I see him as my handsome and charming young man. I’m very proud to call him my son.
(Felicia): “What do you say to people when they ask you where mommy is at?”
(Felicia): “What if someone asks you what for?”
(Xavier): “Some bullshit.”
Jalaysia is 13. She’s my sensitive mature, books before boys child. She has always been wise beyond her years. She recently went from a girl to a young lady. Without the assistance of her mother. To have to hear this over the phone, to give her advice, guidance and the heartache of not being able to be there to help her was a hard realization. A cold hard reality of all the many things I will miss through the years and the worst of it hasn’t even begun. She’s smart, beautiful and looks like me. I hear it more often than not. She’s going through many changes, realizing that boys like her, that people come and go in life. She’s very close to her siblings, and to be separated from them has taken a toll on her as a person. She has taken on the role of mother hen and is trying to hold the family together. I couldn’t be prouder to call myself her mother.
(Felicia): “What do you say to people when they ask where mommy is?”
(Jalaysia): “Locked up.”
(Felicia): “What if they ask you why?”
(Jalaysia): “What does it concern you?”
Jazanae is 10 years old. She’s a free spirited girl. She walks to the beat of her own drum. Always has. A beautiful, brown eyed, dimple smiling girl looking up at you, how do you say no? I believe she has taken the current circumstance the easiest due to her age. She was 5 years old when I got arrested. I worry that she will forget me through the years. She is one of those kids that go, go, go til she drops. I believe it has gotten worse since I got locked up. Is it her way of not thinking? Trying to forget what was? She has very little to do with her siblings. Our conversations surround my out date. She doesn’t recall too many memories. It’s heartbreaking but maybe it’s better for her to just forget because, well, we know the future and even the present is very different. What was will never be again. She will always be mommy’s baby girl.
(Felicia): “How do you feel when you see other kids with their mommy?”
(Jazanae): “Well, uh, I wish that you could be here. It makes me sad.”
There’s so many memories that cross my mind every day. Most include my 3 beautiful children. The days I feel alone are the days that I let my mind and heart walk hand in hand down memory lane. As always it saddens me because we are limited to making new memories. That’s what has pushed me to write down these specific thoughts. I know I’m not the only mother or parent incarcerated that’s going through the hills of emotions over our children. Thoughts of how I can be a better mother from prison.
|I decided to do a Q&A with my children to see what kinds of things I would learn and to help benefit my future with my kids:
(Felicia): “How do our phone calls make you feel?”
(Felicia): “Does it make you feel better to be able to talk to mommy?”
(Felicia): “If you could do one thing with mommy right now what would it be?”
(Felicia): “How do you feel about mommy being in prison?”
(Felicia): “Are you angry at mommy?”
(Felicia): “What’s your favorite memory of you and mommy?”
(Felicia): “What do you think would make this time easier with mommy away?
(Felicia): “How do you feel when you see other kids with their moms?”
(Felicia): “If one of your mom’s friends went to prison what would you say to them?”
(Felicia): “Do you remember the last holiday we spent together?”
Moving forward I will always do what I have always done with my children. Give them my best. 100% in whatever way that may be needed that day. I’m learning how to include their hobbies into our calls, listening to songs together, they keep me up on the “cool” stuff. Taking time to learn about things they’ve mentioned, to be able to keep their interests in our conversations. To let them know I’m listening to them and paying attention.
Ever since that first moment as each of them were born and I looked into their murky eyes, I knew my purpose in life. I learned in that moment what true love felt like, along with feelings of ‘Will I be strong enough for them’. Only to learn years later that a child’s love is unconditional. They don’t care what you’re going through, what name brand you’re wearing or if you have make up on that day or not. They love you simply because you are their mother and no time or distance can destroy a child’s love for their mother. What’s a relationship if it hasn’t been tried and tested? Even with your own children it happens. Not saying in the end that you will come out unscathed. But I believe that in the end everything will be okay.
I love you Xavier, Jalaysia, and Jazanae. This is only temporary. I want to apologize for letting you down twice, but I can promise there won’t be a third time. No matter what the future holds I will always be there for you.
Felicia Evans (ORW) (OH)
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