I like to write about immigration and its effects. It has been a big part of my life and my upbringing and I don’t think people go below the surface enough. The other day, while on vacation in Atlanta, my brothers’ grandmother told us a bit of her share. She spoke about how she got the opportunity to leave her 6 kids behind to go abroad to work in people’s homes. Doing what she can so that she can feed her brood. There was one part that made me almost tear up. She spoke about being able to finally save up enough to go back home to visit. She planned the visit with another family member and told her children that she was sending things for them and that they should look out for the relative. As you can probably guess, it was her coming down after all this time. She remembered very clearly every detail of what happened when her children saw her. She walked out and one of them shouted ‘It’s Mama!’ and they all corralled her to the point of almost knocking
her down. That part ripped through me and I could almost place myself there watching in the backdrop. They could hardly detach themselves from their dear mother. She spoke about never forgetting what that reunion felt like and I could almost feel the excitement and relief. The giddy head strong feeling of seeing a parent after missing them so long will put you on a cloud. The feeling of having your personal nook back can never be replaced.
Our conversation took me back to the days when my father would visit. I always remember this particular day, my mother got a call and when she hung up she told me my father was in the island. I got dressed immediately. I knew he was coming, he had to. The entire day involved me talking my life away about seeing him and possibly never coming back. I was sure he would have taken me with him if he could (he never did) but for some reason his situation didn’t allow it. As night drew nigh, I placed myself by the window looking out for the car to stop outside so that as it came I would go. I eventually fell asleep, well dressed and hopeful. In true form, he turned up, late in the night with my brothers and uncle. I was bursting with love! I quickly picked up my bags and we were on our way to my grandmother house where I would stay until it was time for me to go back home. It was during this drive that I got the nick name ’Duracell’ because I just could not shut up! I spoke every one ear off.
How wild was this? I was way past my bed time too, driving to Kingston! He could do anything and make anything happen; I thought. I marveled at him and how ‘he came for me’. I was deathly afraid of him, as he had stern ways but I was also very intrigued. My mother told me so many stories about him. I probably saw him once per year for a number of years and then about 13/14 he stopped coming, or at least as far as I knew. My aunt filled in for him in many ways when I was growing up and looking back on those times would prove that she did way more for me than he did. I just could not see past the novelty. He always brought me something that I treated like gold. I was so enamored and tried very hard to be a good little girl so that he would see that I was deserving; and take me with him.As I grew older things definitely changed and a lot of things wore off and changed. I am still grateful that I can look back and laugh. As I remember being at school and telling people, quite boldly that my father lives abroad and that soon I will too. It just seemed like the perfect paradise. What could be so wrong?
I see people now who still do this for the sake of a better life and I want to plead with them to keep their children in their care. Don’t leave your child with anyone to raise for too long. As soon as you can, make a home with your children around you. ‘Barrel children’ are often unintentionally slighted and they carry this through life. No to mention the situations some of them end up in and getting exposed to. Often times, they are over compensated by the parent(s) who left and even this can be to their detriment. The parent who raises them sometimes gets
shorted for being the disciplinarian and for ‘not loving them enough’. I used to think my mother didn’t want me to live in foreign. When the one that remains to struggle with you cannot afford to have you fall off knowing how much it really takes to raise a child. They cannot unsee the hard times and wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemies.
Honestly speaking, at times the parent that is relaxed and easy going and allows you to do whatever you want to do, do so because they have to fight for your affection. They don’t want to be forgotten, so they give you the ‘easy life’. They aren’t honest and strict with you because they don’t want you to be mad at them and ‘lose you’. I later reconciled with my father and to this day can only manage him in small doses (lol!). I will forever think though, that if at all, leaving a child behind, should be avoided. I know many ‘barrel children’ and many share similar traits when it comes to their thoughts on the parent who stayed and the one that went/sent them away for better. This happens without realizing the bigger picture and these children should really be forgiven.
Until next time…xoxo