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Children Should Be Treated with Love, No Matter the Circumstance

May 30, 2024

Brook Harless is the 2019 Ohio Mother of the Year®

“When thinking of motherhood, a lot of different things come to my mind. Motherhood feels like a surreal experience where we just try to get through day by day.  As a small child, I never dreamt of being a mother as my goal was just to survive.  Being a daughter of a drug-addicted mother and an alcoholic grandmother who were both abusive, I never knew at the time what they did was wrong. I did not know any better. All I knew is that was normal and how life was supposed to be. I craved to be loved. I craved a hug. I crave a kiss. I craved a pat on the head. I craved to hear those words, “I love you.” But for me that never happened. I remember digging in trash cans, knocking on drive-through windows begging for food, sleeping under a highway bridge, sleeping in homeless shelters clinging to my sheet because I was afraid of being hurt by others there, scared of the mice and the cockroaches. All the while my mother did not know my fears as she was out looking for her next fix and she was doing what she had to do to get what she needed: prostitution. Sometimes she would take me with her depending on which of her identities for the different pharmacies required a small child as she stole numerous identities. Sometimes I had to go on her ‘dates’.  What I saw as a child I should never have seen. What I went through such as the cigarette burns on my back, the broken fingers by my mother so she could go to the ER to steal prescription pads and more should never happen to a child who just craves to be a loved.  

At 11, I was adopted by my aunt and uncle in Ohio after I became a ward of the state in Arizona.  I knew I had a new beginning. I had people who smiled at me, hugged me and loved me. I actually could think about my future. I still was afraid to think about being a mother through my teen years and into my 20s. I never thought I would be a mother. I was afraid the family addictions and abuse would carry on through another generation through me to my children. I never would want to put a child through that. Seven years into my marriage my husband and I decided to have a child but I was then attacked and kidnapped when stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. After being hospitalized due to injuries sustained through the 3-day ordeal such as being stabbed, all I could think about was, “What if I am pregnant? My unborn child is being harmed.” Fortunately, my son was born within the next year with only a bacterial infection. When I looked at him I knew I could never carry-on the generations of abuse.   I looked at my child in wonderment as to how I created something so perfect. How could anybody abuse a child? They are so innocent and so loving.  All they want is to be loved and to be cherished.

Even though I have endured 40+ surgeries from injuries sustained in the Army and the attack, I still held out hope I would have more children.  I hoped and I prayed even when I was told by multiple specialists, the likelihood was slim to none. God then answered my prayers. He gave me two more boys in my 40s. Another challenge I never thought I would go through: a geriatric pregnancy. The last one being a true miracle as I had surgery to not have any more children due to my health.  He is now 1 years old. He has challenges to face but we are up for it! I may often be asked, “How are your grandchildren?” or “Wait. You were in the Army? How can you be a mother if you were in the military?” or “How could you be so selfish as to have children in your 40s?” Well if having your children being loved and cherished is selfish, I guess I am. My boys will never have to endure what I did. It should not matter my age. It should not matter my job occupation. When I think of the phrase, “America this is your mother speaking…” I say this: love your children. They are in it with you. You can overcome any obstacle and adversity. If I can do it, you can. Your children will be with you in life: hand-in-hand. They will be by your side through thick and thin or as I like to call my boys: my sidekicks. Even when you want to go to the bathroom alone and little fingers peek under the door yelling ‘Mama!’ or in the case of the 15-year-old knocking on the door to tell you about his new crush at school or what happened at football practice. You may be annoyed and want those few minutes to be by yourself which is relatable and needed but remember children just want to be loved and they want to be talked to.  Frankly, there is nothing more precious of a gift than a child’s love. “