Updated: Jul 3, 2020
There are so many choices you make each day. Some are very little or seem little at the time, and some can be very big, life-altering choices that may have effects on others and not just yourself.
It was 1995 in the middle of the night when I was almost sixteen years old. I was awakened from my sleep by the sound of men's voices and my Mother yelling my name. "Joy! Joy, help me, Joy!" I jumped up, opened my bedroom door, and was blinded by the lights in the hallway. As my eyes adjusted, I see my house flooded with police officers and a glimpse of my Mother in handcuffs going around the corner. I can still hear her fighting and yelling with the police officers and trying to talk to me. "Joy, take care of the boys!" was the last thing I heard before they took her out of the house.
"Take care of the boys"...I have always "taken care of the boys". Since I was ten years old, I basically became a mother of three. I had to maintain good grades in school, cook, clean, and make sure my brothers had all they needed and were provided for. I had to help them with school work and make sure they were ready for school each morning. I had only two friends, really good friends, and was not popular because I was not rich or pretty. Because of my curly hair, I was teased by being called "poodle". So in order to not go insane at becoming a mother at a young age, I made school my life. I loved school! Every part of it. I think it was just the fact that it was the only time I could get away and be myself, and I felt there was nothing my Mother could do to take it away from me. That may have been why I liked it so much.
After my mother was escorted out of the house by the police, I ran to my brother's room to see if they were okay. They were all still sleeping. As I was standing in front of their door, a police officer approached me. I wasn't afraid, but I was very confused about what was going on. "Do you know why your Mother is being taken to jail?" The police officer had asked me.
I kind of knew but wasn't sure if it was the truth. I don't know if I really wanted to hear it either. I didn't need to add more to my plate, so I answered, "No."
"Well, it is because she has been taking and dealing drugs. Now, how old are you?" He asked me.
"I'm almost sixteen," I replied
"How long have you been taking care of your brothers?" He inquired.
"Since I was ten," I answered.
"That is pretty young. So you know pretty well how to take care of them. Do you have a place, someone you know that will take care of you and your brothers until your Mother is able to do it again?" He questioned.
At that question, the reality hit me like a brick. I now had a full plate. I now was the primary caretaker of my brothers. What do I do? What to do?... I had to answer him fast, "Sure", I responded. The police officer then turned and left. I had made the choice to say "sure" because I was afraid of what would happen if I said "no".
A ton of stressful things were running through my head as the police were evacuating my house. They made phone calls, took things belonging to my mother, made notes on their notepads, and took pictures. I started to panic and think crazy thoughts. I thought they had tapped the phones so they could catch whomever my Mother was dealing with. So when the police officers finally left, I woke up my brothers and explained everything to them. I have never lied to my brothers or kept anything from them when I became a mother figure to them, so they reacted with total trust when they heard the news. I then made the choice to call my Boyfriend's Step-Father. I think it was because he was the only person I could think of at the time and that anytime I was over there I felt safe. I headed to a neighbor's house to make the phone call, afraid that if I made the call on our phone it would be traced. The only thing going through my mind was that I had to keep my brothers and I together, as always. I was always considered the "glue", the "peacemaker" in the family.
After I made the call to my Boyfriend's Step-Father I quickly hurried home to help my brothers pack their bags to go to my Boyfriend's parent's house on a little farm in the middle of nowhere. I had always felt safe there, and my Boyfriend's parents and my Mother were good friends. My suspicions were that our parents did drugs together though, which was uncomfortable.
My brothers and I stayed there for about a week until more things started to happen. During my time living there I didn't have to cook or clean, except I did volunteer to help in the appreciation of my Boyfriend's parents letting us all stay there together. I also helped out because I finally felt free of being a mother. I was free to be me. I didn't want it to end.
Then there was a knock on the door. It was my First Step-Father, the father to my Older Brother in my line of brothers since I am the oldest of my siblings. He came to take my Older Brother home with him. I was fine with it because my Older Brother was the older of my three brothers and only three years younger than me. Plus the fact that he and I fought like cats and dogs didn't help, so it was kind of a relief for him to go with his father. Now the choice fell on him because he was old enough, and without hesitation, he went to live with his dad.
A few days had passed after that incident, and another knock was on the door. This time it was the police. Of course my heart jumped thinking what are they doing to do now? As I approached the door I could see my Second Step-Father standing behind them, my Middle and Youngest brother's father. Why was he here? How did he find us? What is he going to do? These questions were all running through my head.
What was going to happen next was the hardest thing I have ever had to face. A choice that not only would affect my life but also my brothers' lives. A decision I had to live with for the rest of my life.
"Joy, why didn't you call me? You know I would've taken care of you all. I'm their father! I have a right to know what is going on!" Just hearing my Second Step-Father's voice was tearing at my very being.
He and my Mother were together for ten years but were never married. He is the only guy that would have been a real father figure to me, just because of how long he was in my life, but he was never really a father to me. He made the choice to have an affair on my Mother, he tore our family apart, and got the other lady pregnant. He left my Mother for the other lady and has been with her since, even married her.
"Well, Joy, what's the answer?" He broke in, interrupting my thoughts. At the time my Middle and Youngest brothers came running to the door because they heard their dad's voice and clung onto him.
"Thank you for taking care of them but they will be leaving with their father now." The police officer stated.
Once my Middle and Youngest brother heard what the police officer said, they jumped out of their father's arms and ran to me, and both clung to me, knocking me over so hard that I fell on my behind. "I don't want to go! I want to stay here with you," they said in unison.
"No, No! You guys have to come with me. That is just the way it is." Their father said while tearing them off of me. He wasn't going to give them the choice because they were too young, only aged four and five, but it was obvious who they wanted to be with.
At that time tears were streaming down my brothers' faces, causing tears to fall from mine.
"Do you have a father to go to miss?" A police officer had asked.
"No, I don't," I answered sadly. I was told my birth Father wanted nothing to do with me.
"Well, you can come with the boys, you know Joy, and live with me." My Second Step-Father said matter of factually.
This was my breaking point. My crucial decision to make. The life-changing choice. Do I go back to being a mother, no longer to have a life and have to constantly hear the bad talking of my Mother. Or do I stay there where I'm free from all of that, free to be me and not to mention with my Boyfriend and a family who loves me?
Tears were pouring down our faces. I felt so torn because they were my brothers, yet my heart desired something else. I wanted to be free!
As they left with their father, I ran outside to watch them leave. I waved bye to them until they were no longer in sight. I went inside and cried my eyes out. Still not realizing that I made the wrong choice and the effects it would have on my brothers.
I still live with, even after ten years, the crucial choice I had to make about going with my brothers. Was it the right choice? What would life be like now if I did go with them and live with my Second Step-Father?
All I can say is I can only imagine and there is nothing I can do to change it now. I have learned a lot through this experience. I learned that the choices you make can have effects on others even if you don't see it at the time. My Mother going to jail because she made the choice to do drugs ultimately led to me having to make the choice to go with my brothers or not. I am living the effects of that choice still to this day. I am sure my Mother is still living with the effects of her choice to do drugs at that time and the consequences it has had on her family.
Please, try to make your choices wisely with the effects it may cause to others and yourself in mind. No matter how big or small the choice may be, there will always be a consequence that you may or may not see.
Have you ever had to make a hard choice?
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