New Castle News

January 6, 2014

Lisa Madras: We build prisons in our fear...but we can survive and grow stronger

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — What personal prisons have you built out of fears?

I've been in many prisons of my own making during my lifetime.  I didn't really have a whole lot of self-esteem for most of my life, and that meant that I was scared of pretty much everything-- of being unloved, of not being good enough, of not saying or doing the right things.

It took losing darn near everything for me to realize that all of these things I was scared of meant... absolutely nothing.  I'd been unloved.  I'd been not good enough.  I hadn't said or done the right things.  

And I'd survived.

I still had my children, I told myself, and they were the only things I'd ever truly fear losing.  But I did build myself a nice big prison out of that fear, and every parent in the world lives in it with me, so I'm not really alone here.

There's a different part of this prison, though, the one I call solitary confinement, and it's the part that we single parents fear the most, which is dying and leaving our children without a mother or a father.  It's the flip-side of losing your children-- having your children lose you.

It's the ultimate cosmic kick in the pants that I have no real fear of dying itself, unlike many people.  I don't want it to be painful and drawn out, of course, but the whole ceasing to exist thing?  It just doesn't bother me.  It's the way things work.  But throw a couple of fatherless kids into the mix, and you've got a whole different can of wriggly little worms to worry about.

I pray every single day that I survive until my children are grown.  It's a selfish prayer, no doubt, but the only one that this mother's heart speaks when making requests of God.

It's not a perfect world, inside or outside of these prison walls.  I'm not a perfect mother, not by a long shot.  But when I'm gone, who will know my children as I do?  Who will accept them for exactly who and what they are, no matter what that is?

This is one of the few bad things about being a parent.  You never stop worrying about your children, and it's a fear that transcends even the fear of death itself.  I suppose if I had to pick a prison, this would be the one I would choose.  Am I ever getting out of it?  Nope.  Some prisons are made shabbily, of flotsam and jetsam, and are meant to be escaped.  This one?  It's made of the cast iron beams of a mother's love and mortared in with impenetrable eternity.  There's only one way out, and I've already told death I ain't leavin' yet.

In case you're wondering why I'm being so morbid today, I'm having major surgery the day after tomorrow.  Do me a favor and say a little prayer for me, will you?  I won't have a blog next Monday, because trust me-- if you think my writing's strange now, you definitely don't want to see what I'd put out while coming out of anesthesia.

If all goes well, I'll see you again soon!  And if I don't, let this be the last thing I ever ask of you:  Please make the world a kinder, gentler place.  Because once I'm gone, you will all be the only parents my children have.