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Mothers in Prison Interview - Deritha

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Deritha

I hope you have children. And if you do, you know that a mother should be with her children. A child should have a relationship with their mother.

They don't have their mom. They don't have that nurturing and caring. A mother should be someone that that child can count on to be there no matter what. And I'm not there; I've taken that away from them by my being here. Yeah, they get to come see me, but that doesn't make up for what I need to be doing, where a mother needs to be. They need to be there tucking them into bed, you know reading them stories at night, helping them with their prayers. I want to do that. I want to be the one to do that, and someone else is having to do that for me. And that's taking from them.

I have an eight year old little girl and a five year old little boy. They're with their father. They are wonderful. My little girl, she's school and she's handling this exceptionally, I mean I wasn't expecting her to be able to do this. It's hard on her, I'm not saying that it's not, because it's very hard on them. They can't understand why I have to be here and why I can't be there them. But she's doing okay. She's having trouble in school, it's hard for her to concentrate, she's got a lot on her mind. And I just try to explain things to them the best I can. I've sat down and told them some things about why I have to be here and why I can't be with them and that it wasn't nothing that they've done or nothing that they possibly could have done, that it was just me and that I made a mistake and I'm trying to do better. I know that kids make fun of her because I'm not there to pick her up like they are or make her lunches. She's told me about that. I don't get to go to any of her games, her ball games. You know I'm not there like a mother should and she let's me know. And I'm not there to help her with her homework. It's hard to explain things to here. It's hard for her. I told her that it wasn't something I wanted to do, that people make mistakes and the important thing to do is to learn from it and to change it and that me being away from here is going to help her in the long run and that we'll just have to take one day at a time when I get home. And that she just needs to concentrate and know that I'm okay, and that we're okay, and that's about all you can do.

I come from a nice family. My mother and father, there was five of us, five children. I wasn't ever in trouble. This is the first time I've been in trouble. I was a pretty good student. I had my times where I didn't want to listen like all children do, but I was fairly a good kid. Unfortunately I chose to do drugs and I was in a wreck and a very dear friend of mine was hurt, was killed in the wreck, and I was the driver of the vehicle.

I'm glad that they have their dad there with them. Me and him is divorced and that's hard on them because they were with me up until the time that I came here. And it's kind of new for him too. So were all having to adjust to new things, but at least I know that they're with someone that truly loves and cares for them. Unfortunately most of the children that belong to parents here, if one parent gets locked up, usually the other one is locked up. So the kids are thrown in with people they don't even know. So I'm fortunate they are with their dad. With me being here, you know he has to explain to the kids why I'm not there and my little boy he asked him, 'well why don't you just go get mommy and bring her home?' And he said it just broke his heart and he couldn't explain why he just couldn't come up here and my son was mad at him because he couldn't.

I just want to hold them the whole time that they're up here. We usually cry. And tell stories. We both go home feeling a little bit freer, a little bit closer. I really take the time that we get up here and think about things, about the time that we have to be apart and how I want to do it differently when I get out. And how I've taken this time and thought about the things that I've done and took away from them. You know, they didn't ask for this, and yet they're having to pay for it too. I'm taking time from them. And you think about those things.

I will definitely make sure that they come first in anything that they do. I will be more involved in their lives. I know that you have to set limits for children for their best interests. You can't spoil them or let them go, that's not helping. I've taken the parenting class and it's given me tools that I can take out to be a better mother. In our groups, you can hear and listen to the other mothers and how they've raised their children in the past and their relationships weren't so good. And now they have goals, this gives them goals and things that they can share with their children, it gives them tools that they can put in use with their children and it can benefit the children. The mother is here in the classes learning it, but it's the kids that is going to get the benefit from it. And I think it's very important.

I have a good family and they stand behind me and they know I'm not a bad person and that what happened was a tragedy. And that helps. It helps that I have an understanding family and they come up here and they know that people make mistakes and that I've improved. I'm real grateful for that.

I don't wish no one to come here, but I know for me it has been a learning experience and it has woken me up to life and I'm ready to live it.

Just because a mother is locked up doesn't mean you should isolate her from her children. If they want to put us here, which I understand that we need to be here, and they want us to get help, but don't take our kids. Let us see our kids and that will give us motivation to get help. My children is the only reason that I've been able to do this.