Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Sticks and Stones

Back in the 1960s when I was born, being a single mother was not only a stigma but a very difficult existence. To become a single mother for a second time was practically unheard of. There were more babies adopted during the 1960s than any other decade – 30% of all babies born. However, time has moved on so that now, in the 2000s, nobody gives a second thought to a single parent, regardless of how many illegitimate children they have. I was sure that Wyn’s three children weren’t so perfect that they could cast the first stone at her for falling pregnant twice before she was married. Neither were they likely to castigate her for giving up a child for adoption; even as the child who was given up, I respected her decision not to keep me. What I was, and still am, unable to respect is the way in which she dealt with my finding her.

I was too stunned by Wyn’s phone call to cry or indeed show any emotion at all. My son walked into the room and I can clearly remember just saying to him ‘Why do people have to be so cruel to others?’. It was totally beyond me how someone can be so hostile towards the child they gave birth to. I still never fail to be amazed at human beings’ capacity to inflict hurt on others.

Most children, when called unkind names by their school friends, are told by their mums to chant the verse ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. The flaw in that statement, though, is that physical wounds usually heal, even if a scar is left, but emotional wounds can be far more painful and remain open and raw for longer. How I wished that Wyn had physically slapped or scratched me – some antiseptic and a plaster and I’d have been right as rain in a few days. As it was, the pain of rejection inside me was so intense that I couldn’t imagine ever feeling healed again.

I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, shake sense into her and cry ‘Like me, please, just like me’.

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