You can judge me if you want to

You can judge me if you want to, but before you do, know that I primarily stayed in my marriage because of my son.

Ian has been through so much in his nine years: He battled a cancerous brain tumor at four-years-old with his father right by his side, giving Ian the strength and courage to fight. Ian has battled children (and some adults) calling him names because they just don’t understand why he is different. At school, as his brain slowly heals, Ian struggles to keep up with a curriculum that is moving too fast for him.

Add to that the tears and arguing that would fill our house during the past two and a half years. Even though he didn’t know the reason behind it, he knew something was wrong. Ian would beg me: “Mommy, please don’t get a divorce. That would make me really sad.” My heart crumbled. How could I add more sadness when I knew the truth would eventually cause him immeasurable pain?

So when you judge me for staying in this marriage, know that I couldn’t separate Ian from his father until the foreseeable future did it for us.

You can judge me for standing by my husband, but before you do, know that I took my vows seriously.

When I got married, I wanted it to be forever, through good times and bad. I envisioned growing old with him and weathering the inevitable storms of life together. I have forgiven much over the years because I was holding onto forever. When this came up, I merely forgave again.

You may think I’m a fool for believing in forever. You may think I’m pathetic for forgiving a man who admittedly wouldn’t have done the same if the roles were reversed. You may think that I have displayed weakness through and through.

Even though there were times I let your labels cling to me, and I felt like a weak, pathetic fool, the truth of the matter is that my choices came from strength and conviction: I wanted to do what was right by my son because of the love I have for Ian; I wanted to support a man whom everyone else abandoned, no matter how many times I wanted to run away. Staying was anything but easy. Staying challenged every moral fiber of my being. I had my moments of weakness, but, for the most part, I stayed the course, following the path of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

I knew by staying, some of you would think I was in on it, even though what he did went against every philosophy of life I have.

However, what I didn’t know is that some of you would turn your backs on me because of it–because you hated him for what he did; because it was easier to cut me out of your life than stand by me; because you didn’t want your names associated with mine in case people did to you what you are doing to me.

What I didn’t know is that some of you would turn your backs on Ian because of it–because you thought my sweet, innocent boy must be ruined because of the choices his father made; because you thought Ian must not be raised correctly in such a home as ours; because you didn’t want your children to be treated the way you are treating mine.

What I did know is that some of you would callously talk about Ian and me because it gave you something interesting to talk about–because it made you feel better about your own lives; because you’d rather talk about me than to me; because you didn’t want people adding your name to the gossip you shared about my life. That’s why I sheltered myself from your shallow presence.

All of this has just made me appreciate the few who did stand by me from the very beginning, without judgment, even more than I already did. I am truly blessed by those beautiful few and their unconditional love.

So you can judge me if you want to for making the choices I made; you can add more pain to our already difficult lives. I can’t stop you. But before you do, know that you are being judged by the same measure.


20 thoughts on “You can judge me if you want to

  1. We are with you and Ian whenever and wherever you need us!

    “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us, to talk about the rest of us.”
    –Edward Wallis Hoch

  2. Pauline
    Thank you for sharing your heart and your hurt. You have been such a great influence on the Brewster kids and the bond that Kacey and Audrey have formed with Ian is a result of that.
    Your family has and will be in our prayers, please forgive me for not letting you know this. I admire you an your courage to stay true to what you believe.


  3. Good Luck to you Pauline ,I know if you come to Rochester we will be friends and I would love to get to know you. stay strong Denise

  4. You don’t know me nor I you but your words ring loud and true! I applaud what you do because without people like you, our children would suffer ten times more than they do now. Hold your head up high and know that as an educator, you touched the lives of many many children and there will be those student who will remember you because you made an impact on their lives! Thank you Ms. Hawkins for the years that you gave to the children of your community. May God guide and keep you always!

  5. Reading through your blog via your resignation post, but was especially touched by this one. Thank you for sharing, you are a wonderful writer, and if I might mention something my mother used to tell me…

    This too shall pass.

    Its my bottom of the barrel thought :o) but it works.

  6. You touched my heart…. though I don’t know you, I will endeavor to keep you and Ian in my thoughts and prayers . Stay strong!

  7. You don’t know me. I came here to read your letter of resignation, which was powerfully truthful, and kept reading. I can relate to what you are going through. You seem like an amazing woman and I know you will come out of this a stronger woman. Keep the faith, keep going!

  8. You are a very powerful writer and evidently a woman with the strength of steel. I do not know you and your family’s situation as I too was brought to this post by your resignation letter, I just want to tell you that I am now praying for your family and can only believe that you are remarkable and will have peace and success in your future. The path you have decided to take as an agent for change is ambitious and scary and deserves applause and support.

  9. This is a great opportunity to more clearly understand and “see” reality. However you feel about it, imagine being where you are today and not fully comprehending the connections in your relationships.

    I teach high school and today in class after a very realistic “test” in Spanish class, I shared the part in your resignation letter about students thinking for themselves. Students were complaining because they weren’t sure what exactly I expected. It was a role play and I wanted them to do what they would normally do. I gave them explicit instructions (although with much freedom) and they still had so many issues being comfortable with their own decisions and freedom to express themselves. Thank you for sharing and expressing so well the situation we are in.

    1. Rob,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I know exactly what you experienced because I see that every day I teach. I have incredible students who are bright and intuitive, but they are afraid to answer questions for fear of being wrong. Even when I tell them there are no wrong answers to this particular question, it’s an opinion that just needs support from the text, only a handful of them will risk speaking up. It’s so hard to change a learned behavior once they get to high school.
      I appreciate your support!

  10. Spot on… We’ve certainly lost our way as a nation. And there seems to not be enough caring….or resolve,…to find it again,…without going through a lot more pain.

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