2 March 08

Mother’s Day

“What are you going to eat tonight at the Indian restaurant for your Mother’s Day meal?" I asked Mum.
“I’ll start with poppadums, and then garlic mushroom puri. For my main course I’ll probably have vegetable pathia. Hot and sweet. The thought of it's making my mouth water.”
“Did you enjoy helping me with the radio interview on Friday?”
“I didn’t expect to be asked anything. We thought it was just you they would be interviewing, but I didn’t mind.”
“You gave it the family touch.”
“Well, people are interested in a mother’s viewpoint. You have to experience it to really know how it feels.”
“How does it feel now in relation to how you felt when I was in prison?”
“Have you got three hours to spare?”
“Can’t you just summarise your feelings?”
Mum sighed heavily, and said, “I don’t know where to start.”
“You’re avoiding the question.”
“Now at this very moment, I feel happy about the outcome and that you are home and we are a family again, and you’re here for the first Mother’s Day in seventeen years. I love us all eating together round the table and chatting or watching movies. But I’ve had a lot of ups and downs since you got home, which you may not have realised.”
“Did hitting me on the head with the frying pan help?”
“Yes, Definitely. My counsellor said that I’ve got unexpressed anger towards you.”
“Don’t express it too much.”
“Not with the Frying pan anyway.”
"Now that I’m free, how come you’re still having ups and downs?”
“Me and your dad spent the last six years working towards your release. A release that we were never sure would happen. The stress was immense. At times I dealt with it better than at others. I was often close to a breakdown.”
“But I’m here now.”
“Yes, and when you arrived, greeting you at the airport, hugging you and kissing you as a free person back with us was one of my happiest moments. We were all euphoric the weekend we spent in London after picking you up. And when we took you home that euphoria lasted for weeks. I’d look at you sometimes and think I was dreaming and that you weren’t really here.”
“Why are you feeling down?”
“It was the anti-climax. After the initial few weeks, my mood plummeted and the realisation of all that had happened to us came back to me. I felt as bad as when you were first arrested. I felt back to square one. I wanted it all to go away. I wanted it all to have never happened, and your presence in the house reminded me of everything we had been through. I wanted to escape from the house.To be away from you.”
“Aren’t these Buddhist texts you are studying helping train your mind to let go of things in the past that may depress you.”
“Yes. Over the years of your incarceration I worked hard on my meditation and tried to be positive. And for a lot of the time it worked. I know all the theory but sometimes the depression was so bad I couldn’t put it into practise. Obviously my meditation wasn’t strong enough and I need to keep working at it.”
“People are always asking how I’m adjusting, well, how are you and Dad adjusting to having me in the house?”
“Apart from eating us out of house and home, it’s not too bad. The only row we’ve had is over your female following.”
“So I’ve been well behaved?”
“Yes, you are very well behaved and very polite.”
“More polite than when I left?”
"You were always polite. That’s the way we brought you up. But when you first came back you would do everything I told you to do. You were institutionalised. You had difficulty making decisions and would ask me what you should do every time you had to choose. The doing everything I told you was nice, but unfortunately that didn’t last long.”
“It’s got to be a bit weird having me in your house as an adult after all these years, even if I am stuck away in the garage or on the computer upstairs?”
“It was strange having you back, and dependent on us. It was like having a thirty-nine-year old child in the house. You appeared very vulnerable. You made me feel as though I wanted to protect you. I feared that people may not accept you or that you would have difficulty being around people, and the pressure of these worries made me feel down. The thoughts of you having to start your life over again troubled me. I tried to be cheerful with you. I hope I never made you feel as though you were a burden to us?”
“No. I’ve not.”
“So, did you never realise that I felt down?”
“You can see it in your face. It’s unpreventable. It’s like my friend Jack when he’s depressed. He can’t hide it.”
“Getting you off the computer was one of my main worries as you sat for hours white faced and bleary eyed oblivious to everything going on around you.”
“I still do. To succeed as a writer I’ve got to put the hours in.”
“Yes, it’s fine now, but when you arrived you weren't well. You were tired and you hadn’t recovered from the horrors of your transportation and the journey home. We were very concerned about your mental and physical health. Now you are having a social life as well as working on the computer. You are more adjusted to the outside now, and my worries about you are lessening.”
“So, do you approve of my wild nights out with Hammy and Posh Bird? Is that part of my rehabilitation?”
“It certainly is. Posh Bird! Bet you can’t believe your luck! She's lovely. And I think the way your old friends rallied round and took you out was heart warming. Hammy dropping in with a bottle of champagne to celebrate your release and Aza taking you Christmas shopping in Liverpool. They have been great. When you have nothing material to give in return and people still want to be with you that is when you know you have genuine friends. I do worry about Hammy though, and wish he didn't drink so much. As for the wild goings on in the Bells, I’d like to come and see this for myself if you’d let me.”
Aza loves reading your blog. I think you need to get on the computer and start blogging again. Why did you stop and when are you going to continue?”
“You want the truth?”
“Of course.”
“I stopped blogging because I felt so depressed. I didn’t want to write about my sadness because I felt guilty about feeling down, when I should have felt so happy and grateful for your safe return. I didn’t want my readers to think I was going crazy. I couldn’t explain or understand my feelings at that time, so I couldn’t make up happy blogs because they would have been a lie.”
“When will you blog again?”
“I’d like to start blogging again, but I’ve got out of the habit.”
“Are you going to use that as an excuse?”
“No. I like writing. I think writing the blog during last year helped me to cope with all that was going on, even though we couldn’t blog everything for fear of causing problems with your release. It was good reading the comments and they helped me as well. We have both met some lovely people through our blogs. I will start blogging again, perhaps when I come back off holiday after Easter.”
“If there’s a piece of advice you could give to the parents of someone who’s just gone into jail or prison what would it be?”
“To tell people. First of all tell those close to you and your friends. When you were first incarcerated I didn’t tell anyone. I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t deal with it. I made your dad and sister promise not to tell anyone. I went into work every day and pretended it hadn’t happened. I’m a psychology tutor and should have known better, but I didn’t, and keeping this locked inside of me caused me to break down. I thought people would turn against me, that I would lose my job and that people would throw bricks through our windows and daub ‘drug dealers’ on the walls. It was only when I started to tell my relations, friends and then colleagues at work that I realised how wonderful and supportive people could be. That support helped me through the trauma of the following years. I’d always advise anyone in that situation to share their worries and concerns. It eases the pain. I was lucky to have an amazing husband and daughter, but people shouldn’t be afraid of telling the world.
They shouldn’t blame themselves. Although it’s a thing parents always do when things go wrong. Guilt and shame are negative emotions that dragged me down, until I accepted the situation. They need to accept what has happened and do whatever they can to help their child. But they can only do this if they forgive. No matter what their child has done, it’s happened and nothing can change that. You’ve often said that without our support you wouldn’t have got through it so well. Your Dad and I felt we had no choice. You were our son and we had to stand by you.”
“I appreciate everything you and Dad did other than you hitting me over the head with the frying pan.”
“I’ll do it again if I have to.”

For Mother’s Day, I gave Mum an orchid.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood


D said...

Happy Mother's day to the best wife in the world....ever!!!

joannie said...

I've said it before, but it surely bears repeating from one prison mom to a now ex-thank you so much. I'm only just realizing how much work goes into an inmate blog, helping one of Shaun's friends still inside do his. And obviously, your sharing about the emotional rollercoaster of having a child inside, no matter what age they are. The blog helped me like nothing else could to communicate with a person and a family I could relate to. And then to read your comments-your blogging has been greatly missed. I look so forward to reading more entries! Thanks for putting up with all us crazy bloggers. Happy Mum's Day! Sue O.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honesty. That's what makes good writing.

Anonymous said...

I worked with your mum and know something of what she went through.She coped better than she realises. We all admired her strength and support for you. Look after her.

Anonymous said...

I find your mum's thoughts and experiences to be equally as interesting as yours, Jon.

Perhaps that's because I caused my own parents a lot of grief in my younger years and have never really talked to them about their feelings during those dark days. Or perhaps it's just because your mum expresses herself very well and her blog is a good read.

For what it's worth from a total stranger I hope she begins to blog again.


Sue said...


Look after your mum and tell her you love her everyday. She's an amazing lady and you are an amazing man.
My mum was buried today (I'm quite a bit younger than you are) - take every moment you can get with her.

Anonymous said...

i didn't realise you had a different mothers day in the UK. happy mothers day to you all

Karen said...

I was very depressed about shaun's behaviour until I wrote that long letter telling him how angry I was. I got my anger out and stopped feeling so bad. You need to release your anger by telling him exactly what the problems were before the arrest and what they are now. It is no good trying to protect him. He needs to know. Shaun was glad that I was honest with him. I think you should be honest with him too. Maybe you should write it all down in a letter if that would be easier.

and HAPPY MOTHER's DAY to the best mum in the world

joannie said...

I know there came a time for me when I could not do visitation. We tried to visit monthly, but the prison where my son is, is four hours away (across state). It would take me a month to recover emotionally, and I wrote and told him that. I keep the letter he sent back in reply in my purse and reread it. It was a watershed moment in the healing of our relationship, I think, because I was struggling with so much pain and resentment. And a letter is something tangible.

Anonymous said...

looking forward to your Mums return to the computer.....

let her know we miss her....

glad that you are adjusting to life again, listen to those who love you they have your best interest at heart !

Anonymous said...

This post on the blog made me fall in love with your Mum. What a sweet, kind, gentle soul she has.

Anonymous said...

Lovely blog. Glad mum was able to express how she felt as well as yourself. Hope others may learn from it. Funnily enough I bought a new frying pan today, and would you believe I was diagnosed with a goitre last August. Ha ha.
Take care. Terry B