How Many Kids Do I Have? . . . Month Two as a Throw-Away Mom

By:  Gari Lister

Our oldest daughter, Katya, has been gone nearly two months.  She packed the car with everything she could find, changed her phone number, blocked us on facebook, and disappeared into the urban Dallas wilds.  In many ways, our life is back to normal, and I have adjusted to my new status.  Only a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stop myself from pulling away from the little girls in subtle ways.  I finally realized I was petrified they too would throw me away, walking away without a backward glance.  I’m mostly now able to accept the risk.

But still, I can’t move on.  I drive my little girls to skating, and volleyball, and I go to the grocery store.  And with every mile I drive I keep an eye out the window.  I check out every sketchy figure  –not because I am scared of them — but because I check whether it is Katya.  It’s like I’m in middle school with a hopeless crush.  If I knew where she was, I would do a drive-by to try to catch a glimpse of her.  I can’t, though, so I’ve found a secret way to view her facebook page, and I check it almost every day.  Because of that, I know that she was alive on February 10th.

I’m not sure what I would do if I saw her – and I think about it as I drive.  Some days I think I might stop the car, and comment sarcastically on my designer bag, boots and jacket she would be wearing (I’m not always very mature, unfortunately).  But other days I feel certain I would say nothing – just hug her and cry.

Every time a stranger makes polite conversation I freeze.  “Oh, how wonderful, how many girls do you have?”

How many kids do I have?  Such an easy question, but so hard to answer.  The easiest thing would be to just say I have two girls.  Or to play politician and say I have two girls at home (technically true).  Because when I disclose the fact that I have a 21 year-old, I know what comes next.  “Oh, does your 21 year old live here?  That’s so nice that she’s close.”   What do I say?  How do I explain that Katya doesn’t want anything to do with us, with me.  Because let’s be real – yes, she walked away from all of us, but REALLY she walked away from the person she was closest to – me.  And maybe she’ll decide to heal, and will in a few years call home, but maybe she won’t.

Last week I found myself tired of explaining, and I took the politician’s way out.  Before I could finish my sentence, my youngest interrupted and said, “But mom, we have three girls.  It’s just Katya’s not here!”

And she’s right, it’s that simple.  We have three girls.  So if you ever see a skinny girl with a Russian accent wandering around Dallas, please tell her to call home.  You can throw away a mom, but she’s still your mom.  Nothing you can do will change that.

Touching Trauma at Its Heart is a blog written by Attachment & Trauma Network’s voices: a collection of parents, professionals and volunteers who represent a variety of perspectives and experiences related to attachment issues and the effect of trauma on children and on families.

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