Friday, 12 June 2009

Mothers Apart from Their Children (MATCH) AGM

Today I felt honoured to be in a room full of amazing women at MATCH (mothers apart from their children) 30th anniversary AGM.

It is a volunteer support network of mothers who have been separated from their children by a variety of circumstances. On their website you will find contact information, aims and links.

I first was made aware of MATCH by a lady whose children had been taken from her due to a mental illness in the postnatal period. It seems she is not alone! I offered MATCH my support with ideas of improving mental health. Little did I know that I too would become a mother apart from my child due to my separation from my husband. My new career as a speaker takes me travelling and it is easier for my son to stay with his father and it is me who has to come to terms with not seeing him on a daily basis. It was good today to be with other women who also are the receiving end of judgement by some members of society who may consider us as being ‘unnatural, wicked, selfish, unfeeling, must-have-abused them’ and other such stigmas!

Every single mother there has been parted from their child, whether 12 months old or 54 years old, for some sad reason. Often marriage breakdown or due to decisions made by others. Many describe it as a ‘living bereavement’. Many stories are truly heartbreaking.

I know the pain of standing at the check-out of a supermarket and seeing something that you would normally get for your child – but there is no point as you will not be seeing them.
Today we shared stories; low points; experiences but best of all was the general warmth, love and support that filled the room. Tears and laughter were shared along with hints and tips of ways to cope. It is obvious that MATCH has quite simply been a life saver for many. When I discovered other ladies had been through the hell of puerperal psychosis I found strength and support through them – in the same way this is why I keep up with this blog and my website. Likewise when ladies find MATCH the strength from not feeling alone or a freak is huge.

Penny Cross as the outgoing Chair did an excellent job in keeping us quiet when needed! She made us laugh telling us that first thing this morning she had been hanging around outside the building to welcome any nervous-looking ladies for the meeting. As one walked closer Penny seemed to recognise her so politely asked if she was looking for MATCH. It seemed not – it was Carol Thatcher!

One of the new co-chairs is Sarah Hart, author of A Mother Apart.
Have a look at her website and blog too – a lovely lady!

I must also mention the venue – we met at the Diana Memorial Fund premises in County Hall, right by the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Great location and it was free of charge – if you are in the voluntary sector see here if you meet their criteria.

At the end of the afternoon we had a raffle for which we had all taken a small item. Also a lucky dip of cards/letter/poems/ideas of things which had helped us a members. Lovely ideas!

Listening to other stories today I felt very humbled and extremely lucky in comparison to many there. Yet no-one told their story to out-do another and all offered mutual support.

The overall feeling was positive; that things change and that you can learn to move on with a different life apart from your child – but the love for them and the pain of separation is one that doesn’t go. Grandparents, parental alienation (when one parents ‘poisons’ the child against the other) and the need for the group were all stressed.

Long may MATCH continue and I for one shall offer my continued support.


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