10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Shadows, 25 April 2008
'Nothing is permanent. The only thing we can really be sure of is change. Some changes are harder to cope with than others, and it's our attitude to managing loss and how we learn from our experiences that determines our growth and serenity.' (Mothers Apart chapter 8 page 11). To be given the role of mother is a gift from God. To hold your own child in your arms for the first time, and look at the big eyes of longing gives a mother a feeling so deep, powerful and secure you know this is for life. There are no rules about parenting, there are supposedly no grey areas, you are a mum, you are a dad. You will share your lives together, from babyhood and those first walking steps through to the turbulent teenage years of school pressures, and new found love and relationships. A mum is always there with a shoulder to cry on. You look forward to the celebrations, university graduation, marriage, grandchildren, you know you are going to share these moments with your children forever.
It is not in the life plan that a child you have bought up and loved will suddenly disown their mother, and walk away from all she has given. What does a mother do then? She cries in her pillow, she feels empty inside, and grieves and tries desperately to hang on to something of that precious gift from God. She gets angry, and is is surprising that she might find she cant cope with the awfulness of love taken away from her heart. She seeks solace in friends, religion, maybe pills - anything to take the pain in her soul away forever and bring her child back again. She feels ashamed she can't move on - a child doesn't leave his/her mother. Others will look at a mother in shame, some mothers can never bring themselves to tell others that their child or children don't live with them. They hide in secret with their tears and isolation.
Sarah Hart's wonderful book allows these mothers to grieve openly and to share their experiences with others. By talking about their experiences will help them heal. 'We can't heal our redundant negative feelings alone. We need others to hear our story and help us heal ourselves. When someone we trust listens to us they validate the difficult situation we found ourselves in, and the choices that were open to us and the decisions we made.' (Mothers Apart, Chapter 2 p. 23). The book also tries to sensitively exam the reasons behind a child's estrangement from his/her mother, and how to deal with their hostility, to remember they are frightened and vulnerable, torn in an adult confrontation of revenge from the very two people that child loves most - his/her mum and dad. It offers strategies to help a mum cope with the enraged younger with real case histories. 'Sometimes we have an exchange of text messages because she won't talk to me directly, and she writes such hurtful things and I can't believe how angry she is at what's happened. It is bad enough when it's about things I caused but she blames me for the hard times she had at the hands of (her father and stepmother) as well (Mothers Apart chapter 8 p. 116).
Sarah Hart's attempts to give mothers a simplified explanation of the recognition of Parent Alienation Syndrome (PAS) which was coined in 1985 by Dr. Richard A Gardner. She does this with clarity and thought. 'Dr Gardner observed and described PAS as a disroder that occurs solely in child-custody disputes in which a child becomes aligned with one parent and preoccupied with the unjustified vilification of the other parent'. (Mother Apart chapter 10, p 141).
And finally Sarah Hart gives mothers apart real hope that by working on themselves they can move on with their own lives, whilst keeping the shadows of their former life there in the distance in case the life plan should change again.
My youngest daughter came on holiday with me last year, for the first time in five years we were alone together in a confined space. We were friends for a while, then something was said and the terrible rage returned. 'The next morning the sun shone, the sea shimmered and my daughter seemed a little less angry. I kept a distance. We spent the day together, but sometimes apart, sometimes she called me mum, other times she didn't. (Mothers Apart chapter 11 p. 155.
Thank you Sarah Hart for your inspiration, guidance and love.