Back to the Farm

by Laura

Well, my children made it back home. We had a wonderful and exhausting time. My two year old was like all two year olds…exercising his right to say, “NO!” The boys had a wonderful time with Richard (my hubby) at the Museum of Flight. The three of them went there without us girls and the boys were full of laughter and stories when they returned. It was so nice to see that they have realized that this man who genuinely loves their mother is not a horrid nasty person to be feared. He is not the villain they have been led to believe he is. He is actually a pretty nice man who knows a lot about airplanes and such and is fun to be with. My younger girls also seemed to like their mommy’s new husband. My 5 year old was holding his hand and sitting in his lap as if she had known him forever…and loved him to boot!

The kids flew unaccompanied back home and my 15 year old daughter handled the situation flawlessly. Of course, I am sure a little pep talk from mom to her sometimes mischievous brothers didn’t hurt either! I held it all together at the gate in the airport and smiled at them as they went down the jet way. I told my crying 5 year old that soon she would be seeing daddy and wouldn’t that be wonderful. I waved and smiled until they were out of sight…then I cried all the way out to the car. It feels like all my children are suddenly dead to me when I leave them at their home after our visits. I usually drive up the lane screaming out in the most unbelievable pain a human can feel. I would literally rather go through labor 10 times in a row than have to drive away from them every month like that. My dear husband…poor guy…what does he do when his wife is hysterical and sobbing? He just holds me close and strokes my hair and tells me it’s okay. My ex used to ignore me when I was crying. What a difference to actually be loved. I never knew this kind of love existed.

Laura’s Story:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13

More from Laura:

  • Anonymous

    Laura,I just put my two little girls to bed. I had to write and tell you how my heart goes out to you, having to leave your children this way. I can’t imagine the suffering you are enduring. No one but a mother can know the agony of being forced to leave your children in someone else’s hands this way. Thank goodness for your new husband, he sounds wonderful. I hope and pray that one day you will be able to be back with your children full time or at least see them on a more regular and more intensive schedule.aimai

  • Kaderin

    As always, the love for your children is so clear and poignant it make me tear up. My heart goes out to you. Is there any chance of you gaining custody after all or is it a done deal?It makes me wonder how your husband is even coping with the children, after you did most of the nurturing and raising.That said, I would like to point out something about the way you segregate your kids. Now, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, because I can see that you’re a great mom who cares a great deal about your kids, but people often don’t realize when they’re imposing gender roles. Why didn’t the girls come along to the science museum? Interest in science has to be nurtured, and if it isn’t, it’s a waste of talent. Who knows, maybe one of your girls is the next Einstein or, more aptly, the next Marie Curie?There are a myriad little things like these which add up and create a gender role – which, as you yourself have experienced, can be really harmful to a person, especially if that person is female.So just think about the way you treat your sons and daughters differently, and maybe it’s not too late to change a little, so that children may be true to their selves, without being assigned unwanted roles.PS: Sorry if this came across as preachy. But as a woman in science myself it hurts me to see how few girls enter the fields, so it’s kinda my pet peeve *cough* I’ll just…be over there now *go stands in a corner*

  • Dannica

    Kaderin,I want to start with a disclaimer that I am not wanting to “nail you to the wall” so to speak! This is also a pet peeve topic for me so I will try to be gentle and nice! lol :D I personally greatly appreciate the attention given to gender differences in my family. I aspire greatly to be a lady and my brothers aim to be gentlemen. While I do not see anything unladylike in being a scientist, I would also take care in preserving the difference in gender roles. I love being a lady, and I greatly appreciate real gentlemen when I meet them. Due to the feminizing of our culture in making the men take the back seat we have not equalized anything. We have actually taken away the original roles and distorted them. I did hard manual labor this week to earn some money for my bills. When I came home that night with my hands all scraped up and sore and all tired out I made a bee line for the sink. I put on my cute apron, washed dishes, and made dinner. It was so pleasant to be domestic! That is my role. It is not my place to be the breadwinner that is the man’s role and I do not envy it at all! I also appreciate the authority structure true man and womanhood gives. While this may seem selfish I would much rather the buck stop with someone else. I was not created to lead, I was created to support. We are to support and respect. “Behind every great man, is a great woman!”

  • Anonymous

    Dannica,I certainly would not deny you your right to engage in pleasant domestic tasks. However, many other real females do not share your joy, and many males do; we have plenty of anecdotes from both sides.Likewise, it is excellent that you have found happiness in a supporter role, but not all woman are great supporters, any more than all men are great leaders. Leadership ability isn’t correlated with gender, beyond residual gender disparities in education. Some people are better at some things than others, just as some people are male, and some are female (and, for full disclosure, some are neither).I absolutely believe that a “traditional” lifestyle can be successful for people who happen to be predisposed to the “right” way of living. But I don’t believe all woman (or all men) can be categorized quite that cleanly.-L

  • pluralist

    Dannica,gender is something created by human society: it is not inherent.It is fine for a woman to be “domestic,” but not if she does not *want* to be domestic. It is fine for a man to be the “breadwinner,” but not if he does not *want* to be the breadwinner. If we say “all men must be like this” and “all women must be like that” we limit the ability of all PEOPLE to express who they truly are.I (a woman) love to spend the day making cupcakes, but I also enjoy manual labour. I like to work through my body’s protests that it’s too hot, or this weight is too heavy. I love the problem solving involved and the good sleep at the end of the day.Everyone is allowed their personal preferences, but they should not be generally applied to everyone on the basis of their gender. It is unfair and oppressive.Why do you think that leadership and support are mutually exclusive? Leaders are supposed to be SUPPORTING the interests of their followers. SUPPORTERS form a movement that leads somewhere.I am an initiator, a leader, and an extrovert: my boyfriend is not. I asked him out, initiated our first kiss and physical affections. I do not stand behind a great man, I stand *beside* him. That is my place.

  • Theresa

    Dear Laura,I am 22 years old and just about to finish college. I came to this site because I’m trying to make sense of my own experience. I grew up in a home like what you and Vyckie describe, and my mom left the year before I left for college.A friend thought your site would help me but instead I feel more frustrated and hurt the more I read. Please understand that I don’t have any desire to hurt you or anyone who comes to this site but I’m at the end of my rope. I need to say some things I’ve not felt free to say either to my mom or my dad, and I’m hoping that saying them here, among people who have some connection to the world I grew up in, will help.My dad was almost exactly as you describe Dale, and like Dale, he went through a period where he lost his way. My mom was like you, she didn’t come from a christian background and went after my dad because he was strong and handsome, not because she respected his values. While my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, we didn’t know our parent’s history, other than that mom’s family weren’t christians and thought the way we lived was wierd. For us kids, and for me looking back on it, it was a beautiful rich life. Not rich because we had a lot of money, but rich because instead of spending half our time watching TV and playing video games (like all my college friends) we experienced the real world every day. I loved working with the animals on our farm, seeing things grow and knowing where our food came from. Seeing sunrises and sunsets, hearing the sound of the wind in the tall grass, and reading great books. People scoff at homeschooling, but all I have to do is look around me. I have a handful of friends at the university who were homeschooled. They are kinder, more respectful and tolerant than anyone on campus. Most of the public school kids are self centered and lack any real compassion for anyone. They preach equality and tolerance but they are mocking and cruel toward people and ideas they don’t know.I don’t know what I believe anymore. As I said it all blew up the year before I left home for college. My mom stunned us all by saying she had to leave. The more she tried to explain the more upsetting it was for us. I mean, she spent our ENTIRE LIVES teaching us teaching us to love and respect our father, that love was far more than a feeling. It was an action, something you do and it’s when it’s hard that it counts the most. When my sister and I pointed that out to her she said someday we’d understand.What kind of answer is that? My siblings and I were given the choice either to be with mom (and leave the home and life we loved – not to mention our dad) or only see mom occasionally because she moved to another state. My sister and I (we were the oldest) begged her to at least live close by, but to no avail. Of course we chose to stay with dad because that was our home, and at the least, we kids didn’t want to be split up. Every day as my dad struggled to work and care for the little kids (one 3 and one 5) and us, I got more and more angry with my mom. I love my mom, but I’m still angry. I’m angry because she left US, not just our dad. If she and dad couldn’t live together, fine, but whatever went wrong between them wasn’t our fault, especially not the little ones. She didn’t have to move so far away, but she did and that was her choice, and it hurts because my brothers and sisters and I paid (and still pay) a high price for her to have peace of mind. I’m angry because my mom blames my dad and “patriarchal christianity” for everything. She doesn’t take responsibility for teaching us our entire lives that it was right, then suddenly telling us it’s all wrong. What the hell are we supposed to think? I’m angry because my younger siblings look to me and my sister more as their mom. When I was their age I had a great mom. She wasn’t perfect, but she loved me and was THERE. Again, I’m not saying she should not have split with my dad, I don’t know about that, but she didn’t have to move so far away. For better or worse she made the choice to have them, they didn’t ask to be born. But having done so, they need their mother. I’m angry because this is the part that’s overlooked on all sides. My dad is not innocent, my mom is not innocent, but my brother and sisters and I are. Yet, we’re getting punished. Perhaps my dad lost his way for a time (my mom leaving snapped him back like nothing else could). But he didn’t leave, and he didn’t leave us for someone else to take care of, nor did he demand that we either leave the home and community we loved or rarely see him. Two wrongs don’t make a right (as my mom used to say).I’m sorry if any of what I’m saying here is hurtful to anyone. But these are my true feelings. I just want people (not just the “quiverfull or ex-quiverfull people) to see that divorce exacts the highest price on the kids. And if you can’t stay together, then for god’s sake, don’t move away. Stay involved in your kid’s lives, otherwise you’re divorcing them too.Theresa

  • Kaderin

    Uh… where to start, where to start. Well, first of all, I agree with both Anonymous and pluralist – they practically took the words out of my mouth and phrased it more eloquently than I could have. Second, a disclaimer: I tend to get carried away in debate so do not mistake my passion for anger or derision – I do not mean to insult, and if you think I crossed a line, feel free to call me on it. Just know that no offense is intended. Also, english is not my first language so bear with me.Okay, let’s get it started…I object to the way you declare your arbitrary standards of what is “true man and womanhood” to be undeniable truth, that women were “created” to follow, to submit and to be domestic. This assertion is not self-evident – and you put forth nothing to back it up. Where is your evidence? Have you got any studies to back it up? Rigorous testing and double-blind experiments to determine what is inherent to the gender and what is the product of social conditioning? And if you have none of that, how can you make such claims?I say, let’s test your assertions, specifically the one which says we’re domestic. Period.Seeing how in this thread alone two women (perhaps 3, I do not know anonymous’ gender) have objected to the notion that being domestic and secondary to a man is a woman’s nature, it cannot BE her nature – else it would apply to EVERY woman. Moi, I fricking hate domestic chores. And last time I checked I’m female. *peeks down* Yes. Definitly female. Yet I don’t share your character traits and temper. Could it be because – *gasp* – such traits and preferences vary from person to person and are actually not dependant on what kind of equipment dangles between your legs?But okay. Let’s assume my dominant, assertive, female self is a freak of nature and 99% of all women fit the gender role perfectly. Well, what about the minority 1% that do not fit? They’ll never be happy in their role, and since breaking out of one’s social construct usually has dire social repercussions, to NOT play their roles would make them unhappy as well. So no matter what, 1% of the female demographic – millions of women – will never life up to their potential, their dreams and ambitions forever unreachable, forced to play and act as someone they’re not. Depression, mental instability and illness as well as suicidal tendencies may very well result from that.This is, in my humble opinion, the crux of gender roles. Or really, and kind of stereotyping. If it’s nature and not a societal construct, nobody actually NEEDS a predetermined role to carry out, since it would come naturally. So there is not benefit to a role, if it is one’s nature anyway. But if it’s NOT one’s nature, ie the role is wrong, there is a clearcut drawback. The irony is this: If predetermined roles do apply we don’t need them and when they don’t, they ruin lives. So why have them in the first place?So, in conclusion: A person should be judged on his or her own merits and accomplishments. Every child should be given the same oppurtunities in life, regardless of gender, race, etc., so that they may truly reach their full potential in their pursuit of happiness. If a woman feels comfortable as a housewife doing domestic chores and lovingly raising her children, then she should do that. And if a woman thinks her life’s calling is to be president, then hey, she should be free to do that, too. Neither is inherintly better than the other, both are valid lifestyle choices. But it is a choice that should be made by that woman, not imposed by a rigid and intolerant society.

  • Laura

    Dear Theresa, Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with me. I can appreciate your pain and anger. I can also understand your mom’s position and I can only hope that, in time, you will come to understand her. I know that my children are the innocent victims in all of this. It breaks my heart to think about what they have had to endure and will continue to suffer because of the mistakes made by their parents. I spent almost 25 years denying myself for the sake of my kids. Not in physical ways. I would always gladly do what ever was needed for my kids sake and go without so that they could have. That is not what I mean. I mean I denied my personhood, I denied my self the right to think for myself, to grow in the directions that I wanted/needed to grow. I was held back and held down by my religion and even though I taught my kids that it was all the truth and the right thing to do, it was not giving me “everlasting life” It was killing me. I cannot imagine the confusion you and my own children must feel when your mom tells you (or acts in a way that tells you) that all you believed to be true and right is wrong. I can understand your anger at your mom moving so far away. I am sure my children feel that as well. Yet, in my case, I really had no choice. I HAD to leave the farm. If I stayed, I was sure I would kill myself. I came to Seattle where there was someone who would help me get back on my feet. I had no job skills, no higher education, no way of paying my rent, of buying food. I had given all these things up when I married at 18 and stayed home to care for my husband and kids. I never dreamed that I would find myself in this situation. I always figured that I would grow old on the farm and sit in my rocker and watch my 50 or so grandkids play in the yard. I had no back up plan. When my marriage fell apart, I was not only stunned and alone but I was unable to care for my needs. Maybe your mom was in a similar situation. How would she have paid rent on an apartment near you? There weren’t any apartments available near my kids. We lived in a rural town of under 1000 people. I am sure your mom loves you very much and wants the best for you. I know that I don’t want my girls to end up like I was. My kids have shared with me that they feel like their mom is dead and this imposter is living in her body. They tell me they want their old mom back. This hurts me a great deal because they seem to want me to return to being oppressed and held down and treated like a child by their father. Yet I also understand that they are children and they are hurting and they want things to go back to “normal”. I have tried to tell them that the woman they knew for the last 25 years, she is the imposter. I am finally back to my self. I had to leave the cult to and turn away from all that I believed and held to be true in order to save myself. Maybe your mom felt the same. Maybe that is what she meant when she said you would understand someday. Please know that I am sending you a giant hug and I hope that you will not cut your mom out of your life. I am thinking she is in as much pain as you are right now. Maybe you can help eachother through this instead of being against eachother. She didn’t leave you Theresa. She loves you. She left the lifestyle that was killing her. With much love,Laura (Of Laura and Vyckie)

  • Charis

    Dear Theresa,My heart goes out to you! :( ((((((Theresa)))))))I can’t really say what motivated your mother leaving? I know that it is really really REALLY hard but I hope that the Lord will give you the grace to be able to forgive your mother. Not for her benefit, but for your own benefit and welfare. I know that for a time, I really wondered if my own children would be better off without me? Had I left (for me it might have been by suicide), I would have rationalized that it was really better for them, that somehow I really was the bad person, horrid mother, bad christian my husband said and they really would be better off if I was out of their lives. Like your mom said, you really don’t know what it was like in her shoes. I can’t even tell you how emotionally and physically draining is the lifestyle, and especially when the one who made vows behaves more like an adversary and critic than a supporter.But, I am thankful you commented. Your comment helps me personally. It was very good to hear your perspective and to know that even though I sometimes hurt when I am so utterly spent taking care of their needs yet they take me for granted or find fault with me, yet its not their fault they have not been role modelled showing appreciation nor respect for me and it doesn’t make it true that I am some worthless baggage they would be better off without.I don’t know if it would help, Theresa, but there’s another blog about Quivering Daughters: http://quiveringdaughters.blogspot.com/I'm glad that you were able to go away to college and continue your own life despite the issues in your family of origin. I pray the Lord will bring healing and comfort to your heart and to the hearts of each of your siblings and your parents. Love, Charis

  • Theresa

    Dear Laura,Thank you for being willing to listen and share. Even though there is a lot of pain and anger, it helped a lot to get some of it out. And it helps even more to have you respond. I can’t say these things to my mom right now. My sister tried to and as of now, my mom won’t speak to her. She insists that it’s just stuff my dad told her to say. That isn’t true at all, dad doesn’t say anything bad about mom. If anything he drives us all crazy constantly telling us he’s sorry things are so hard, he feels like he’s failed us as a father, that none of this is our fault. That makes it hard to talk to him because he’s already so low, telling him how hurt we are would only make him more depressed.Anyway, since for now I can’t talk to them, it helps to talk to you. I’ve read what you’ve written a couple times now and want to read it again before I share more of what I’m feeling.Thank you again for being open. That means a lot.Theresa

  • Anonymous

    Wow,Laura, What a powerful explanation you’ve made. And how sorry I am for the young woman who expressed her pain and sorrow up above. I think you said all that needs to be said, in a way, but I’d like to throw my two cents in as well. I’m a mother of two young girls. And I’m a daughter, myself, of course. And I’m a happilly married woman, and a former academic. So that’s my stand.I guess I want to say this to the young college girl. *Everyone* wants to believe that their parents are happy and that everything that we are taught as children is good and right. Everyone. The difference between a child and an adult is that an adult has to take the responsibility for things when they don’t fit into that neat little model. Your mother, like Laura, spent years trying to create a perfect world *for other people.* Specifically, for her husband and children. And she did a darned good job. But if it wasn’t making her happy, if it was “killing her” to continue living that life would be a lie. It would be dangerous, and it would be wrong. Well, you say, why is it wrong? It was making you, the writer, happy and all the children happy and the daddy happy. Shouldn’t their happiness rule over the mothers? You’d be happy if she’d come back to the farm, or stay close enough, that you don’t have to step into her role and do all her work. And you’d be happy if she’d kept her mouth shut and continued to teach you that god and family were enough to make everything ok. In other words–you would rather your mother continued to lie to you, and oppress herself, than that you should be faced with the reality which is that life on the farm, as the mommy to a tribe of children and the servant to that particular man *wasn’t enough* to make your mother happy. And its not enough to make you happy, either–because you are at college and not champing at the bit to accept your mother’s old yoke. But if it isn’t good enough for you why is it good enough for your mother? If it is oppressive to you why do you think it was not oppressive for your mother?Right now you are in a special period in a young person’s life–you have a child’s egotism and self love. Everyone, your father and mother and the whole world, were really there to make sure you had a picture perfect childhood and that nothing disturbed that. Interestingly enough that is exactly what your mother thought when she threw away her individuality and her dreams to be the perfect home schooling submissive wife. And at the end of that period–between being a demanding needy child and realizing that submission to your father wasn’t making her happy–she did a damned good imitation of life. But now she is coming out the other end. Like you, she realizes that there are some things she wants to accomplish with her life. Like you, she thinks that her own personal happiness is important and can’t be pursued while submitting to your father.The economics of leaving a large family and the breadwinner, the assetts that your unpaid labor built up and the society and goodwill that your unpaid service created are very difficult. You and the other children refused to accompany your mother because it was too scary and too expensive and too different from what you wanted for yourselves. And now you complain that your mother wouldn’t “take you” or wouldn’t “stay near enough” to make you feel you didn’t have to choose?You are hurting and I respect that. But the only cure for you is to grow up a little bit and see that the same egotistical impulses that made you hang back and cling to your father are at the root of your mother’s courageous determination to forge ahead and create her own life. Your mother didn’t give up her right to some happiness when she started having sex, or when she started having children. In fact lots of us might argue that her duty to herself was somewhat greater once she started having children because raising them to believe that they, too, must negate their own dreams and happiness for other people is a recipe for disaster.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Theresa,You’re in a terribly difficult place, thank you for whatever bravery it took to come here and to share something of that experience. If your mother needed to leave, then she needed to leave. But I don’t think that means it’s selfish of you to be angry. Your mother has not been there to support you through this transition, not only has she moved far away (which perhaps could not be helped), she has rejected your sister and your sister’s feelings when she tried to share them with her. Beyond that, your mother’s decision now throws into question so much about your childhood. If your mother made herself miserable, if she lived “an excuse for a life” or “a lie,” if she now sees the person who you loved all your childhood “an impostor,” there’s a lot there to be angry about. If you believe that she did that, it means something in your relationship, at the core of all of your life so far, was a lie and was stifling and destroying one of the people you loved most in the world. And that she allowed it. Aimai, I don’t think it’s fair to imply that Theresa’s selfish or immature for feeling angry and betrayed. Leaving Theresa’s father may have been the right thing for her mother to do, but it makes so many old and harmful mistakes suddenly visible. There is no cure to this situation; nothing will make the problem cease to exist. All they can do, what I hope for you and your family, Theresa, is that all of you can someday grow so that your pain at your mother’s leaving and her pain in the long years before, are part of your past, influencing your present but not controlling or clouding it. You have every right to mourn and be angry, no matter how you understand what has happened to you, but I hope that eventually, you can all find ways to be happy in your lives and in your relationships to each other and yourselves.Aurora

  • Anonymous

    Aurora,I did not intend to come across as harsh to Theresa but I do see a huge difference between a college age woman and, for example, a much younger child. Your words to Theresa are much better than mine but I think we are actually, in some ways, saying the same thing. I just think that Theresa has a kind of duty to herself and to her mother, to her siblings and to her future children, to grasp that she doesn’t get to control everyone else’s life. Because that is really what is going on here. She wants the right to act out her anger at her mother because her mother has chosen not to let herself be defined by the word “mother” or by Theresa’s needs or anyone else’s needs. Of course Theresa feels angry and betrayed. But to acknowledge that isn’t to say that she was betrayed by her mother. She wasn’t. Every kid gets angry at their parents when their parents don’t live up to their expectations and dreams that mommy and daddy are perfect.I, too, hope that Theresa can get past this, can learn and grow from this. But I don’t think she can if we encourage her to think that an adult woman commits some kind of unforgiveable sin when she leaves her children in the care of their loving father. Its hard work, and neither Theresa nor the father want to do it. Understandable. But if they don’t want to do it why do they think the mother has to do it? If they are angry at the role that has been thrust upon them why do they think it was possible to continue in that role without anger and grief?Theresa is not a child. She’s in college and she is heading out for adulthood. She is protesting her mother’s decision not to baby her, her mother’s decision not to continue being the mother as saint. In a few short years, if she isn’t careful, she’ll find herself blindly emulating her mother’s early choices and perhaps only years from now extricating herself from the same mistake with the same level of hurt all around.I guess what I’m saying is that I think there’s a danger for Theresa in accepting her child’s wail as more than a temporary crutch. Of course she’s angry and of course she wants mommy back doing the laundry and making everything easy. But although that is understandable its not going to happen. And Theresa is going to need to figure out how to live an adult life by and for herself, without the prompting and the propping of parents who know better than she does. I think that is the root of the fear. She had a kind of false confidence that everything was clear and laid out for her, proven and tested by her parents. Now she has to face up to the very scary possibility that her parents didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Or did something that was in some way demonstrably not right.She’s right to be scared and angry, but sympathy won’t help. Only time and a lot of serious, prayerful, thought about what Theresa wants from life will get her through this.aimai

  • Anonymous

    aimai,You’re right, a lot of my last comment was a response to yours and I’m not sure I was as open about that as I should have been. I apologize for that. I don’t agree with you that sympathy won’t help. It absolutely won’t get her through this, but it’s easy to get suck in the fear and anger. Communicating those emotions and having them validated can be really helpful in moving beyond them–not making them go away, but in getting to a place where one can accept them as part of the background instead of as an all consuming need.I certainly agree with a lot of what you’ve said, but I don’t think the maturity she needs is something you can give her. You’ve tried to point the way towards it, and I’ve tried to help her along a few bits of the path or, possibly, a few paths that might help get her there. I hope they both help. We give what we can. You’re a professor and I’m someone who wants that job one day; a recent graduate, an English major, a writer, an observer. I’ve lived with and loved abuse serviors (I’m not saying you’re one Theresa, just what I have to offer), so at 24, I know the day to day of healing and growing up much more than the longterm outlook. From that place, I can’t tell Theresa what to do, or think, or how to grow, but I can do my best to help her today, I can suggests ways she *could* think, and I can be a model of someone who exspects the best of her and hopes for the best for her while leaving her to figure out what that means for her. There are other useful roles in this converstaion, but this one is mine. I think the one you’ve chosen is useful, I hope it is effective, and I think having someone play the role I chose might help it to be so. Or it might lead to extreme and entirely beside the point meta-analysis. That’s always a possibility with me around. Sorry Theresa, if you don’t like to hear about the wieghty issues surrounding communication with you. ;) Really, that’s not about you: I can over-think *anything.*Aurora

  • Theresa

    I'm still sorting out my feelings and how to get them out, and how and whether to share them.In the meantime, I think it's important that I clarify a few things. So many who comment here project onto me (and maybe Laura & Vyckie's children) their own worldview and assumptions about the family I and they were brought up in.First of all, I'm not a sheltered child who is afraid to escape from some sort of "prison". I'm certainly not angry because I don't want to "grow up", or because I want the "pretend" world I experienced as a child to be real.My mom left 3 years ago. I've spent that time in a major state university far enough from home that I've only had one or two trips home during the school year. Everything I've accomplished I've done on my own. My father supported my decision and though he offered to help me I insisted on doing everything on myself; applications, scholarships, financial aid, travel arrangements, I didn't need, nor want any help. True, 22 is young, and there's a lot I haven't experienced yet, but I'm no spoiled child upset because my "mommy" isn't doing my laundry.Amai, you've said that you are a former academic. If thats so then you would know what an ad hominem argument is. It seems to me that's what you've used in justifying your analysis of me and what I've expressed about my anger and pain in the wake of my parent's divorce. The truth is, you don't know anything about me beyond what I've written, so comments like "of course she wants mommy back doing the laundry and making everything easy" are not only inappropriate, but reveal far more about your presuppositions than anything else.I don't embrace, nor have any desire to defend the "quiverfull" lifestyle. I never did, and the irony is I had far more trouble with my mother over that than with my father. I always knew I would someday leave and persue my dreams of becoming a writer. My mother insisted that a woman's place was taking care of a family and home and my dreams were not "God's best" for me. She opposed my decision to go to college all the way up to the day I left. Then, within to months of my leaving, she left my father and siblings. After my internship, I was offered a permenent position with a major newsweekly in New York. I turned it down in favor of a position with a publisher in a mid-size city 45 minutes from my family. Why? Because I don't want to grow up? No, because my sister has spent the last two years living at home, going to a community college so she could help care for my two youngest sisters. Now it's her turn. She leaves to complete her degree at my university next fall.My anger and frustration is not because I wanted my mom to stay WITH my dad and us, it's not because I didn't want her to be happy, or fulfill her own dreams. I wanted that for her, just like I want that for myself. If leaving my dad was unavoidable, so be it. 3 years down the road (and light years in terms of my own life and growth) my hurt over the divorce has faded. What I'm angry about is my mom's behavior now, today. I'm giving up my dream job because I love my little sisters, and they need motherly nurture and a healthy female influence (one that will encourage them to pursue their dreams and fulfill their potential). In short, someone has to take responsibility, and that's what my sister and I are doing. My mother could easily move to the same city I'm going to work in since our grandma (her mother) lives there and her husband's company would allow him to work out of their office there.Maybe I'm only 22, but I understand responsibility, and I know that I don't have give up my personhood to anyone, man or woman. So many who write on this blog just make the assumption that the men and partriarchy are the problem. My dad was pulled reluctantly into that way of thinking by my mother, who was guilted into it by other women in the homeschool group we were in. It is about superiority, but my experience was that that came from the women in the community, not the men. I referred to my dad losing his way in my first comment here. My dad got off track when, after increasing pressure from my mom and others in the homeschool group, he started exerting more "headship" in our home. None of us liked it, including him, but my mom insisted on it. In less than a year, there was something obviously wrong between them, and one morning he woke up and mom was gone.She told people that she could no longer take being oppressed by my dad and "patriarchal christianity". Dad was distraught and confused, I thought maybe something was seriously wrong with her (because embracing that was her idea-and she knew dad felt uncomfortable with it). It would be great if my mom would take responsibility for my sisters and be a mother to them, but at this point I'd settle for her to just let go of the victim mentality and take some responsibility for her own choices. The last message my little sisters need is that women are victims who have no power over their own lives. Theresa

  • Anonymous

    Theresa,That was well stated and I applaud you. You are a strong, kind, articulate woman. I can see your point perfectly and have no answers. It is something your mom will have to live with. Just want to encourage you in your care of your sisters. You are doing a wonderful thing. Rebecca

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me these women did not leave their children, but chose to live. Children should not understand the debths that can drive a person to such a choice. That is good. Hopefully as they mature in life’s experience they will understand without actually having to experience. I am glad these women chose life and found peace in their new lives. The kids will have to do so in their own time.

  • jemand

    I don’t think the last anonymous poster read Theresa’s last post…Bravo, Theresa, you’re amazing and you’re little sisters are lucky. The quick turnabout of your mother and her inability to respond to you, or your sister, expressing their frustration and pain, almost sound to me as something of a mental illness, along with the pressure to go into a lifestyle and then the immediate backlash and wanting out. Good luck to you, and hopefully soon you’ll be able to again pursue your “dream job.”(also, why do you feel so responsible when their grandma is in town? I imagine that she could also be a significant positive influence in you’re sister’s lives that might not make it as necessary for you to be there. But again, I don’t know your situation but what you’ve said of it. Wish you the best.)

  • Charis

    Theresa,Beware bitterness. Its poison.I see your point about the women often instigating the move into this lifestyle, with homeschooling as the “gateway”. Would it help to think of it as a nice shiny red fruit? It looks really good, nourishing “good for food,… a delight to the eyes, and … desirable to make one wise”. So she plucks the fruit and takes a big bite and hands it to her husband… and its all downhill from there… :( I grew up in an alcoholic family. When I was your age, I was very angry with my alcoholic dad. Wasn’t until I was in my 40′s that I got angry with my mom and realized her contribution. The anger has passed and now I see that “hurting people hurt people”. Odd how your mother left just after you. I wonder if she depended on you too much? If so, that was wrong of her. Maybe this will sound cliche- but its not your fault, Theresa!

  • aimai

    Theresa,I think you are a little confused about what an “ad hominem” argument is. I also think it is wrong to offer a brief snapshot of your life and then castigate readers for commenting on the parts you’ve shared because they “don’t know the whole story.” You are absolutely correct. None of us know the whole story of your situation or your parents situation. You might want to blog about it on your own site if you think that fully informing people of your situation will lead them to give you the support you want and deserve. I stand by my, to my mind, very sympathetic reading of your original post. As far as I can see you are angry with your mother for not being willing to take on the task any longer of being the primary maternal force in her children’s lives and, as you see it, shoving that duty off onto you. I won’t bother to defend her on this point because its absurd to think that my opinion counts here. She’s living her life as she sees a need to live it and you are living your life as you see a need to live it. You are angry that you have had to put off things that you wanted in order to care for your parents other children so, to your mind, you are having to pay the price for her sin of becoming a mother, many times over, when in the end she couldn’t sustain the pressure.The part that is so very, very, young in your letter is the belief that our parents fully control their lives. That they fully control every step that produces the old lady with lots of kids and a hard life and that they should have to pay for their mistakes and follies in order to shield their children from those mistakes and follies. Actually, people don’t really make their life decisions in this conscious or successful a way. If you read the letters of other members of the quiverful movement carefully you will see many people struggling with problems–their own, their husbands–who got into the movement because it offered them (as they thought) a royal road out of personal pain, gave them a cause to work on with their husbands, and incapacitated them from life in the outside world. Once a person starts down that road it can be hard for them to pull out. After which child should you leave? With what skills can you find a job? What abuse or sadness or just plain tiredness with your husband (or his with you) can serve as a legitimate mover to get you to stop rationalizing your pain and do something new?Some people reach a breaking point and just up and leave–frankly, men have been doing it for generations. Some people drink themselves to death, or take too many pills, or otherwise remove themselves from the pain of their situation in a way that their family can rationalize away as accidental. Sometimes even mommies leave.I’m really sorry for you that just as you thought *you* would get out of the family net you have been pulled back by your own sense of duty. That’s noble of you but nobility has a price, and you are going to pay it. You want your mother to pay it instead of you and she is refusing to be noble about it. Or she is saying that she’s already paid a higher price than she can face. I urge you to have this discussion with her face to face, or by letter, but at least not on a pseudonymous bulletin board with perfect strangers. We wish you well–so well! you cannot imagine–but we can’t fix this for you. Only having your mother come back in as primary caretaker for your sisters can fix it. Or having your father step up and take serious responsibility for his enabling of a crazy religious mania your mother imposed on the family. And you know what? He can do that. There have been single fathers before who have been perfectly competent to raise their daughters without making the oldest daughter perform that task.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Wow… I think the lot of you, really, are kind of being asshats here, with the exception of Laura and Theresa. Laura: Thank you for this post. I am so sorry for your separation from your children. Theresa: My parents were not always fundamentalist Christians, and I was not homeschooled. They did flirt with fundamentalism every now and then, and we had many fundamentalist acquaintances and friends. My parents did, however, separate when I turned 22, and ended up getting divorced a few years later. I can absolutely understand your anger over the fact that your parents were the adults in the situation and that they were the ones who were responsible for this. I felt this way too, and because my parents went through a number of religious “phases,” I also felt a lot of anger over that fact that my sister and I “did not volunteer ourselves as their labrats.” For me, it’s not an identical situation. It was a huge relief when my parents split up. Their thirty year marriage was abusive and dysfunctional–and extremely painful for all of us. The divorce is honestly the only reason that I can stand to be around either of them today. But I certainly relate to what you say about how this divorce can be very painful for adult children. In my case, I kept thinking how much pain we would all have been spared had it happened fifteen years earlier. I was worried about both of them being able to stay financially afloat alone, and I would have been ignorant of that aspect of it when I was younger. It’s very stressful to feel like you are the “adult” in your family and that you suddenly have to take care of everyone. It took me several years to get past my anger over that. I don’t think it’s necessarily okay for you to project your situation onto that of Laura and her kids, though I can imagine that, just five years ago, I might have felt triggered reading something like this myself.Nor do I appreciate your judgmental assessment of “kids in public school.” I was one of them. We are not as monolithic (or completely “self-centered”) as homeschoolers are sometimes taught. But I can see that you’re just coming out of this–and that you’re dealing with a lot of shit. And I just wanted to say… You are not your sisters’ mother, and if some of your anger has to do with the fact that you feel that you are being trapped into mothering them (while your own mother got out), I hope you’ll think about what’s best for you in the long run. Not to mention that you may do best by your family (and your relationships with them) if you you make your own health and well-being a priority. And, yeah… Dealing with parental splits sucks for adult children. I am sorry for what you’re dealing with. Kristin


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