I am going to tell you the heartache, joys and pain of mothering from the inside of prison walls. This is probably one of the hardest subjects I have ever written about. I am not proud about coming to prison and the time I‘ve spent away from my only son, but God needed to save me from the life I was living, or I wouldn‘t have been a mother much longer.
I‘m 33 years old, and I am serving a 58-month sentence at Shakopee. I‘ve been away from my son since he was 11.
Being a parent from inside is a hard task, if not impossible. If you‘re not fully committed to yourself and your child, you might as well forget about being a parent at all. When I first came to Shakopee, I was so devastated at what I had done to my son‘s life that I could not forgive myself or anyone else that hurt me along the way. I didn‘t eat, I dropped 25 pounds, and I thought my son would never forgive me.
‘HOPE AND A FUTURE‘
A month after coming to prison, I enrolled in a program sponsored by Prison Fellowship, and slowly things started to change for my son and me. He started to hear a difference in my voice, a “hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). I learned to forgive and to receive forgiveness. I began learning who I am in God. This newfound forgiveness has changed me—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My son was able to see and hear this, which brought him a lot of hope. Together, we have made it work. I have found little ways to show my son his worth and value too.
I had to work hard to show my son how much God has changed me, and what is in store for our future. Pretty soon, we were talking two to three times a day, [having] weekly video visits, and sometimes monthly visits in person (He lives three hours away from the prison).
I learned how to communicate with his father, and we found some level ground to stand on.
I started to send my son care packages for every holiday—candies, magazines, and my crochet projects. When the time was right, I decided to write my son a letter asking for his forgiveness with words I learned through the Prison Fellowship program. He read it, kept it, and said it was what he needed to hear.
I say that parenting from the inside is filled with heartache, pain and joy because this is the truth. But there is also joy in what God has done for us. Joy is seeing my son succeed all on his own, figure out his strengths, and ask for help. This might not have happened if I hadn‘t come to Shakopee. I would still have been in a codependent abusive relationship, and my son would have been always trying to save his mom.
“Letters from Inside” is a blog series featuring incarcerated women at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee, where Prison Fellowship runs one of its academies.
This is the fourth installment in the series. For more “Letters from Inside,” click here.
Republished with Permission.