Free from prison.
Free to take care of my children.
Mother's Day is the hardest day of the year for women in prison ...
Last week, I brought home a clear, plastic bag of crocheted hats and scarves. They had been made by incarcerated women who volunteer their crochet skills to raise money for organizations like Our Children’s Place and MATCH, organizations that support the children of incarcerated parents. Nestled in the hats was a tiny stuffed lion, and my daughter spotted it through the plastic from yards away.
“How much is that lion!?” she squealed. The lion was very cute.
I reminded her that the items were not for sale, but that people could make donations to support the children of incarcerated parents and take an item.
“You give what you think the lion is worth,” I said.
I watched her think long and hard. As a ten-year-old girl, she has very little to give. I saw a look of determination lock on her face.
“I am going to give my ten-dollar bill for that lion,” she said with resolve. I started to protest. I knew her ten-dollar bill was a prized possession, saved since Christmas. As if she could sense my protest coming, my daughter continued quickly, “Mom, if you went to prison and I couldn’t see you, I would be so sad. I want my ten-dollar bill to go to kids who don’t get to see their moms.”
Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year at the women’s prison. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, sixty-two percent of women in state prisons reported having minor children...
More than Easter, more than Christmas, more even than a child’s birthday, Mother’s Day highlights the pain an incarcerated mother feels from being forcibly separated from her children – renewing her guilt, shame, and concern for her children on the outside.
I am a mom. But as an IPMW Chaplain, I don’t spend Mother’s Day with my daughters. Instead, I spend it with a group of women who would give anything to have the chance to parent their own children – to hold them, cook for them, help them with their homework, and keep them safe. Because of your support an d partnership, IPMW can offer special events each Mother’s Day – ice cream socials and concerts, dance ministries and gifts, prayer services and a quiet space to gather and grieve. These things make a big difference in easing emotions and reducing tension on a difficult day. But more importantly, your donations mean that all year long, women have access to individual pastoral care in which they can choose to face and heal from a variety of wounds:
the death of a child that catapulted one woman into drug addiction,
how one woman’s imprisonment rendered her child vulnerable to molestation,
the pain of being in prison for your own mother’s last breath and burial.
Do you have a ten-dollar bill for the families impacted by prison? This Mother’s Day, we need your help to keep up the good work of helping to heal these wounds and preparing women to reunite with their children.
Teresa Wiltz, “Having a Parent Behind Bars Costs Children, States.” Pew Charitable Trust Stateline, May 24, 2016.