White Picket Fence [Photo Source]

I wonder does she kiss them goodbye before she goes? No, that would be too hard. And after all, she is just going for milk. 

Maybe she holds them a little more closely the night before as she tucks them into bed, takes their little faces in her shaking hands, trying to memorise the soft skin, cheeks still pink from the warm bath, gap-toothed smiles and minty toothpaste breath.  And though she wants to be sure she remembers the exact colour of their eyes, she cannot look at them directly, can’t bear to see the trust reflected back.

And now, she is heading out the door. Just going for milk. She leaves off the “Be right back” because some lies feel heavier than others.

And then there is the weight of the front door closing. Slamming it would be too definite, too final so I think she just pulls it gently to, but still, the soft click of the lock falling into place is deafening.

Has she tried to do this before?  Or have little arms curled around her legs and upturned faces begging to come for a ride in the car thwarted her plans?

It’s not that she doesn’t love them. I bet she thought about leaving a letter, but the emptiness of the words as she wrote them seemed worse than offering no explanation at all.

It doesn’t matter. This time, the front door has closed behind her and the late afternoon air is cool on her face as the sun deserts the day.

Her heart races.  

She hurries to the car, fumbling with the keys in the lock and yanking the door open. She sinks into the car seat and again, fumbles with the keys in the ignition. Her hands won’t stop shaking. Turning the key, she exhales with relief as the engine comes to life first go. The car is in Drive and she is depressing the accelerator. She is a series of actions, and almost robotic in performing them because if she lets herself stop and feel, even for a moment, it will be over. She will stay. And her desperation will eventually seep into their bones. Her poison will destroy them.

The car lurches forward and out into the street. Earlier that day she had the presence of mind to reverse the car into the driveway.

Perpetual forward motion from the moment the front door closed.

She does not have to look at what she is leaving behind.   

 ~~~ 

This post has been floating around in my head for months now. I have often wondered how a woman can walk away from her family. Before I had children, I couldn't fathom it, and I judged those women furiously. Now that I am a mother, I still can't fathom actually going through with it, but I can see how a woman might get to that point of desperation. Rather than judgement, I feel sadness – and empathy. Empathy led me explore just how she might have gotten to the point of no return, and in writing this, I sought to understand her choices better. Maybe I'm way off the mark. I don't know. But my experience as a mother has taught me that we are all in a boat with no paddle, and we do what we must to survive. And what we need to survive is different for all of us.

Thank you to Red Writing Hood whose prompt this week, Freedom, finally got this piece written!

 

Hello friends

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I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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31 Comments

  1. Kate from Food From Our Life

    tears… I couldn’t even imagine it no matter how hard a day I had – like the one today – I just couldn’t do it, I have however made a point of making sure I had my house in order before I met my husband and definitely before i had kids, that’s not to say there still aren’t times when I pray to God that I don’t become my mother, who was a wonderful mother, but carries way too much guilt & victim mentality… Great wonderful amazing post!

    Reply
  2. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much, Kate.

    I definitely have desperate days but often my kids are what save me! Their little faces, something they’ll say – and I am reminded of exactly what it is I have. And then, I am mad about their daddy. He is the most wonderful support and my best friend.

    Removing all the support networks I have, I can imagine it would feel like the walls were closing in. It must be terrifying…

    Reply
  3. Galit Breen

    Wow Angie, blown away by this one.

    The empathy you show is clear, poignant.

    I love the way you jumped into her head, and her heart.

    xo

    Reply
  4. By Word of Mouth Musings

    Omgoodness, so much emotion and sadness and heartache … and heartbreak …
    What a post.
    So many tears.

    Reply
  5. Madeleine

    Love the empathy here.

    I have very clear memories of my mother making comments in the kitchen about ‘running away one day’, when I was quite young (five? six?). It affected me.

    There are days when I can actually see how a mother might reach that point, but I am VERY careful to never utter such words out loud for little ears to hear, and little hearts to break.

    Reply
  6. Sophie

    It’s only 745am and I’m balling! Beautiful Angie, what a piece! I felt like this with PND when my daughter was only 8 little weeks old. Such a sad place to be and you captured it so well. So so glad I got the help I needed so that I never followed through with it. Now I look at my girl and wonder how I ever felt like driving away.

    Reply
  7. Victoria KP

    Well done. One of the best things I’ve found about motherhood is the turn from judgement to empathy. I often hear friends w/o kids make comments about a parent all I can think is, “You just don’t know the whole story.”

    Well done!

    Reply
  8. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    So true, Victoria. It’s so easy to label a woman’s actions as unthinkable or bad parenting – until you have been there, pushed to your limits by the little lives you treasure most. It’s HARD.

    The women who continue to judge after having kids? Those women I simply can not understand.

    Thank you. xx

    Reply
  9. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Zanni.

    I read your piece – wow. You captured those moments so vividly which made it very hard to read. Writing so raw often is. Thank you for sharing it. xx

    Reply
  10. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Oh, Sophie, I am so sad to read how you identified with this piece but so delighted to know that you came through the other side.

    Thank you for reading and enjoy that precious girl. She is lucky to have you as her mumma. xx

    Reply
  11. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Jesus, Mad. A comment like that would tend to reverberate in a child’s mind.

    I know, KNOW, your girls are in safe hands.

    Reply
  12. lindy smith

    Oh wow. I was reading as quickly as I could thinking, No! No! No! This was haunting, but good. Nice work.

    Reply
  13. christina

    it is sad. so very sad.
    my piece is similar, actually.

    Reply
  14. Carrie

    I can’t understand women who leave. Turn their back, walk away, never heard from again…I have 2 children who drive me INSANE. I make sure I get time to myself but to completely leave them? Never.

    Good post. I enjoyed the perspective you took

    Reply
  15. Kir

    oh my, this is haunting and sad, but probably so true. When you can just put that car in drive and go…I couldn’t leave my babies, but the thought of wanting to be anywhere but “here” is at the back of my mind sometimes. That I need a place to be “me”

    I thought you wrote this well, it’s real and honest.

    Reply
  16. Notmoonlight

    Wow. This is intense. I love your use of narrative in this piece, showing the forward movement.

    Reply
  17. Wisper

    Your empathy here is so touching! I’ve struggled to understand the same thing. I think you did a great job of exploring that question here. Your line about how she is her actions toward the end is incredible.

    Reply
  18. angela

    I’m glad the prompt led you to get this up! I think you do a good job of showing her need to leave, her need for survival. I think it’s so horrifying, yet understandable in some of the most cloying moments of motherhood. It’s an interesting line to follow: the difference between those who NEED to leave and those who NEED to stay.

    Reply
  19. idiosyncratic eye

    So painful, there are always more questions than answers, it’s subject that comes up in my musings too. 🙂

    Reply
  20. shelton keys dunning

    This must have been a difficult write. You lent a powerful and yet dignified voice to a woman on the edge. Nicely done.

    Reply
  21. Robin Farr

    This is stunning and beautiful. I can see what it would be like to be her, and in a way I do know. I’ve wanted to run away so many times, though I never could. What I’d love to read is what comes next, because that’s the part I can’t imagine. How hard that must be.

    Reply
  22. Zanni

    And thank you for reading it! I didn’t experience PND myself, but I could relate to moments like this. I think these stories are worth telling. xx

    Reply
  23. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much.

    Yeah, I guess reading it you would be hoping she would turn around. But sometimes, she doesn’t. Poor woman.

    Reply

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