What It Means to Be a Mother of Many Sons

On any given day, a young person, someone’s child, is arrested. 

Oh my God! What happened? What did he do?  Where are they taking him?  Please don’t hurt him.  Why are you being so rude?  Son—remain calm!  I’ll get a lawyer.  Call me!

This is the cry of a mother’s heartfelt pain hurled into an unrehearsed scene that is being played out right before your eyes. 

A Nightmare Come to Life

It is happening to thousands of parents daily all over America, mostly in the inner cities.   A young person is being arrested and charged with breaking the law.  As the mother of this child, you feel you are dreaming, yet it is real.  You feel helpless.  You cannot even touch your child.  Your parental control is not allowed, another control has overridden your jurisdiction.  

As the police car speeds away, you get a glimpse of a head sitting in the backseat that resembles your child, who is now handcuffed and heavily guarded.  Life as you know it has taken a strange turn, which will forever be different from this day forward.  

I now wonder, where or when did my son ever receive the rights that I have witnessed so many times on TV shows?   My family watched and waited in total trust that everything would work out in the correct balance (meaning the punishment would fit the crime). 

However, that is not what happened.  My son received a very outlandish sentence and is still serving time from age 17 to now.  He will be 30 years old this year, 2013.

Finding a Lifeline in Books Not Bars

I was introduced to a young woman named Kaye whose son was arrested at 14 years old,  who was going through the same process that my son had just come through.  She and I together wanted to get involved. 

In 2004 I read about a group called “Books Not Bars.”  Kaye and I found out that they were holding a meeting in Los Angeles, and so we attended.  From that meeting on, they became my lifeline.   

Unfortunately, Kaye unexpectedly passed away in June 2005, leaving a son without his biggest support system, his mom.  I always say that only God knew that he was devastated without his mom and I was devastated without my son.  Books Not Bars helped me to get in to see Kaye’s son in 2006.  Right away from our first meeting, I knew that I was supposed to help him in any way that I could.  

Creating a Support System for Other Families

Listening to parents who cried many times in our monthly Books Not Bars telephone meetings because the pain and helplessness were so great, I knew I wanted to do more. 

As we worked on issues that would impact our family members’ futures, the pain that we carried as parents continued to linger from day to day.  I am a Christian, I believe in the power of prayer and I felt that, if we could come together and pray for each other, support each other while facing the court system, sharing and collecting pertinent information, it could make a tremendous difference.   

So much abuse, neglect and injustice was happening on a daily basis and having someone to talk to and stand by your side, I believe, can make the difference in a better outcome.     

Ecclesiastes 4:12 - Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I know that I did not have that support system when my son went through this process.  I believe that the unfair outcome was due to ignorance, lack of money, and lack of support at the time when we needed it. 

Looking back, I know now that having the right information in a timely manner could have changed the outcome for my son.  Sadly enough, by the time you get some of the information that you need, it is too late and the system has placed your loved one on the assembly line to the state prison.  There are many mothers and many sons who can relate to a similar or worse story than I am sharing.

MOMS: Mothers of Many Sons

MOMS (Mothers of Many Sons) Support Group Ministry was birthed out of this painful experience. Many parents share this same heart-wrenching experience, yet many have accepted it and buried their sorrow deep inside feeling helpless and alone.  It is taking a toll on families all over this country, especially single moms.  I wanted to help find solutions and offer a support system.

The first official meeting of MOMS Support Group Ministry was held on January 28th, 2007.  We have had many challenges getting started.   We pray for our loved ones, we write letters and send cards to our inmate sons (anyone on our list), we visit when possible, we support with finances when we can, we offer court support, we gather pertinent information to help families and we rally around families and their incarcerated loved one as a family giving encouragement and strength where needed. 

We do all this while trusting that this dreadful time can be a little better for all involved if we stick together and offer support to one another.     

Kaye’s son was released in April 2012.  He is a wonderful person who is now working to become a law abiding citizen after 10 years of incarceration.  My son continues to dwell in the state prison system out of state in Oklahoma.  We have not been able to visit him since they moved him out of state in 2009.  The toll out of state imprisonment is taking on my son and our family is a whole other subject.  I have a trip planned this month. 

Thank you Books Not Bars and the Ella Baker Center for all that you have done to make this dreadful time more bearable.  Thank you to all of the mothers, and the many sons, who have endured this painful process with their loved ones.     

Learn more about Mothers of Many Sons

Guest Author: 
Lanita Mitchell

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