To All Mothers in Prison

Edaleene Smith, CCWF
There is no one on earth who can mother your children better than you. Yes, I sit here every day, hurting, thinking about my son. Praying and hoping he will be OK. He didn’t have this coming. The blame is on me. But my son acts out, blaming himself and others because he lost his mother, who is away in prison.
When you come to prison you feel just left, all alone. The separation, especially from your children, is hard. It is a punishment in itself. You try not to blame the world or your family for not doing things you would do if you could. You try not to trip out on your family for not bringing the children more often. Or because you can’t call because their phone does not accept collect calls. After all, it is me and you who are in prison. But at the same time, it’s hard not to hear from your kids as often as you’d like.
When I was on the street, I was a real mother. My sisters were running wild. My mother was already taking care of many grandkids, but she never had to take care of mine. So when I caught this case she was mad as hell at me, not just that she had to take care of mine, too, but that I was no longer there.
Since I came to prison in ’98 I saw my youngest son very few times. I can’t blame my mother, she has all the other grandkids to take care of. But I am worried not just about the things here, but also about them–out there. It’s all a part of being a mother. It’s hard not to be there (he is now 13) as he is facing the society outside. He told me that he loves me very much. But when other kids talk about their parents they ask him “what does your mother do?” He is ashamed to say, “she is in prison.” He gets angry at me for putting him in such a bad situation. I understand that. I understand that he is angry at me. But I want him to know that just because I am here, it does not make me any less his mother. There are lots of mothers here. Working hard to come out, to look ahead and not so much at the past. We know it’s hard on our children. We all love our children.