“What would you think,” Mum asked one day,
“If you and I just went away?”
“Not with the boys or Dad,” she said.
Just you and me. What do you say?
I was only a child, knew not of despair,
Nor loss of self, or disabling fear.
What should I think? What should I feel?
In the end I said nothing. I couldn’t go there.
Yet I’ve never forgotten that unspoken plea.
The tears in Mum’s eyes; her urge to be free.
And the thing I remember most back then?
Is how pleased I felt that she still wanted me.
Mandy Edwards © 2016
This poem came to mind when I had a counselling session at Te Wahi Ora Women’s Retreat. I had struggled to talk to Bev; felt that huge tangled knot in the pit of my stomach that left me speechless and afraid. But Bev knew how to bring me back to a safe place and I began to understand how the past can affect the present sub-consciously, if not consciously.
One of the few memories I have of my earliest childhood was the situation presented in this poem. My mother, the school bus driver, stopped me just before I jumped off the bus and asked me how I would feel if she and I went away for a while without my brothers or my father. I somehow knew what she was really asking, and it rendered me wide eyed and speechless. What could I say? I loved my Mum. Adored my brothers. And worshiped my Dad. How could I possibly choose? And at the time of my counselling session with Bev, I was faced with a life changing choice again; between following my husband for one final chance at a farming venture, and leaving my kids (and my early childhood job) behind; or staying with the children and supporting my husband from afar – just visiting him on his farm on the weekends.
I had chosen to stay behind; stayed strong. But inside me raged a war of conflict between the need to support my husband and the need to provide a sanctuary for my children. My husband was asking me to make an impossible choice. In a similar way to my mother all those years ago when I was five. I couldn’t make the choice then. I was only a child. Pleased that Mum ‘still wanted me.’ Now I am an adult and have a choice. An informed one. I can support my husband and my children and have my own deepest needs and desires met. It is a challenge. But essential if I am to remain true to myself.