Thursday, February 17, 2011


Lately, I've been thinking, wanting, to ask my son a question or two. He doesn't have time to write here because he's so busy with his job and just LIFE. But part of my goal in starting this blog "with" him was so he could give perspective from the "other side"–the estranged children. That was one of the things that was so hard being separated from him–I couldn't even ask him what he was feeling. And I wanted to know because I truly cared! So in wanting to help other mothers understand how their estranged children may be feeling, I've wanted to ask him to go back in his memory and explore his own feelings from that painful time.

First, I'd ask some simple questions...

What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?

The thing is, I already know...I think...some of his answers. 

Yesterday, as I watched Dr. Phil and two mothers on his segment, "Is This a Cult," I remembered some of my own feelings from back then. Mainly, FRUSTRATION. I could sense that very much within Leisa, whose daughter, Ashley, has chosen to live with a reclusive man known as Golden Elk (Clemente Suriano). Subsequently, Ashley has cut off all ties with her family. So has Elon, who last saw his mother, Iris, in 2007.

During the program, each mother had the opportunity to see or at least speak with their child. Leisa and her 27-year-old daughter, Chelsea (twin sister to Ashley), managed to see Ashley, thanks to a surprise meeting set up by Dr. Phil's staff. Both Leisa and Chelsea were calm, controlled and reassuring. Neither tried to persuade or beg Ashley to leave Suriano. Before parting, they told Ashley that they loved her. Inside, though, I just KNEW Leisa longed to grab her daughter and HUG HUG HUG her! But she kept her composure throughout the encounter. So did Chelsea.

Not Iris. While attempting to contact Suriano at his home, Iris yelled and kicked at the door when the woman inside politely told them to leave. Later, she also grew impatient on the phone with Elon and even hung up on him.

I completely understand both reactions. I felt both ways. I remember being cool, calm, so in control of myself when my son came by to pick up his sister. I'd go outside to try and talk to him. He'd ignore me. I'd smile, go back inside the house, then bawl. Other times, I tried to force a conversation with him, like the afternoon I sat in his pickup and wouldn't get out. Then there was the time that I drove to my son's home and told his father that my son NEEDED to see his mother and that he should back me up. No go. A demanding attitude, I quickly learned, rarely gets you anywhere.

Finally, after more than two years, I accepted that I just had to let go and let time heal our hearts. And it did. But until that happens, I well understand the pain and frustration a mother feels when she's separated from her child. Because there's just something in a mother's heart that yearns to know that child, to be a part of his/her life, to protect, nurture and guide. Even a teenager (and beyond)! 

So, please, forgive us when we kick a door, yell on the phone or make demands. Sometimes we frustrated mothers just have to let our dammed up feelings OUT and do something! But believe me when I say THAT'S LOVE MISBEHAVING. If our hearts were empty, we simply wouldn't care. We wouldn't have the need to be composed or frustrated.

I still want to hear my son's thoughts... When I get up the nerve, I'm going to ask him....


  1. I am so happy that I found this blog and am so happy for you and your son. I have been very close with my son for 18 years and now my ex has turned him against me because I am taking him to court because of child support issues. It is so heartbreaking to have a great relationship with your son for all his life and then four months before he leaves for college he abandons you completely. My ex told my son everything about court and skewed it and said I was greedy. My son should not even know we are going to court. My son is trying to get me to drop the case but I feel if I do so now it looks like bullying prevails and that I was playing games this whole time. This is the worst pain I have ever felt in my life and it is never off my mind. It is so frustrating that my son won't see that the fact that his father having involved him is so wrong. I don't want to sacrifice my principles and involve my son more by defending myself with details. It might even make things worse. It is also very sad that my son accepts what my ex tells him at face value. My mother used to warn me about this when my ex first was remarried years ago and i thought she was crazy. Thank you for listening and I am reading all of your posts and links and blogs which do help. God Bless.

  2. My heart breaks for you this morning. I can feel your pain, and I have tears for you. Truly. I don't know the details of your situation, but the court case should have been kept private as possible. Pray for wisdom, dear friend, and strength. Keep loving your son. God WILL prevail through all this. Maybe not right away but in His time. I will place you and your family on our Prayer List and give you a page in my prayer book as well. If you like, keep me posted via email and that'll be between us.

    God bless you, friend. You are a good woman, a loving mother and someone who is trying hard to do the RIGHT things. With love, sheryl

  3. Dear Sheryl,

    Thank you for your response. It is me "anonymous" from May 2nd at 11:56pm. My name is Gayle and my son is Max. I was wondering if since you blogged in February "Composed....frustrated", if you have had any talks with Patrick about the WHY of it all. PLEASE do not do so if you think it will hurt your relationship with Patrick in any way. I just simply cannot wrap my head around how a son can completely cut his mother out of his life. Mother's Day came and went with no communication from Max or any response to my calls or texts. I have to admit that sometimes i go overboard trying to reach him with too many texts etc. - though I know now not to just show up places. Your feed store/lock the truck when you leave story broke my heart. Now my birthday is Tuesday and it is the day of his Spring concert at school. I am going to go and try to speak with him and not let have love behaving badly. I wouldn't be surprised if Max skipped it. Then on June 2nd my parents are coming from Florida for Max's graduation. It will be interesting to see if he will give me my four tickets of the eight the school gives out for graduation. I secured four from the school just in case because I was sick about my mother possibly being shut out of the graduation even more than myself. And HOW could Patrick's dad not see that this was not hurting you but Patrick as well? How are men so cold? Do you think Patrick sees now that his father was wrong Sheryl? Do you think his father was an active alienator? I still don't know what i did wrong - I erred as a parent on the side of lack of discipline and overly attentive - not someone who should be punished like this. And to think that we would cut off our right arm to guarantee our children a life of happiness and they can so easily dismiss us is so, so very painful. I just keep thinking about you and Patrick. Thank you and bless you.


    (I am going to print out the picture of you and Patrick and keep it with me - but not in a creepy way - in a "hope" way.

  4. I just received and read your note, Gayle. Then I penciled your names on your page in my Prayer Book. Bless you! And I must tell you right away that another mother here among us is hurting like you. Just today, she shared with me that she was not given a ticket to her son's graduation. That really triggered anger in me.

    "Even though it would be so painful to be there at graduation because of all this turmoil," I wrote her, "I hope somehow you can be. When I look back and remember everything I did to try and restore my relationship with Patrick, I can say I have no regrets. Because that's what I did....try. Just like you're doing."

    Later today, this mother wrote me back that a fellow mom with a graduating child gave her a ticket. So she can go. "Wish me luck, because it's going to be bitter sweet," she wrote. Yes, it will be. But I'm so glad she'll be there. In the years to come, she'll look back and be glad too.

    And no, I have not touched on that topic with Patrick. But I think he'll share when I do. He's very honest and open. Especially if he knows his sharing will help someone else. That's why he agreed to partner with me on this blog, even though he doesn't actually participate.

    Gayle, please email me privately about the other questions you have. I think you can understand why. We can talk on the phone as well, if you like.

    My heart goes out to you. I so understand your pain and other mixed emotions. Just know you're not alone. We're here. So is God. And I believe He will answer your prayers! But in His time.

    It's ok to feel everything you're feeling. If you didn't have any of those feelings, you wouldn't be the loving, caring mother that you are!

    Lots of love and prayers, sheryl

  5. Thank you Sheryl! It is Gayle. I will email you tomorrow. In the meantime I found a quote I would like to share. I just emailed it to Max but I don't know if he reads what I sent him. I am so glad you are encouraging the other alienated mother with the graduating son to attend. I will never give up. You see, my ex-husband gave up on my daughter. It has hurt her so badly. But unlike what he is doing with Max, I have many, many emails of me begging him to come see her and to participate in therapy with her so she is comfortable. Is the other mother from New York? I feel that we are the only ones crazy enough to require tickets for graduation :). Here is the quote:

    “But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
    — Mitch Albom

  6. Wow, Gayle, wonderful quote! Plus, both Patrick and I love Mitch's book, Tuesdays With Morrie. Where is that quote of his from?

    No, the other mom's not from New York. She's from way more south. :-)

    Much love, Sheryl

  7. WOW!! I think I'm going to text my son this one.

  8. That quote is so special, Gayle, that I've posted it on this blog and given you the credit. Thank you for sharing....