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The Green Bench

(by Terilynn Bradshaw)

It had been over a year since I saw my three young daughters’ faces, let alone speak to them on the phone. I pulled up to their house, and as they climbed into the truck and saw me, I knew they had absolutely no idea who I was.

I was so emotional but held back my tears. I also held back on scooping them up and hugging them. They have been through enough, I thought to myself.

“Remember me?” I asked the girls, who were six, five, and three years old.

The eldest, Arella, looked at me and nodded yes, but with uncertainty.

“I am your Mom,” I said.

They smiled, and we headed to my house.

On the drive, we talked about silly little things like my dog Charlie, who played dead very well and who was not allowed on the couch but would sneak there whenever I left. I told my daughters, “I bet he will be on the couch when we get home.”

I let them into my house, and sure enough, there was Charlie, fast asleep on the couch. Startled to see us and with a guilty look on his face, he jumped off the couch immediately.

The girls giggled. I could tell they were nervous. A year is a long time to go without your mother at such a young age.

“Let’s hang your coats and make some cookies,” I said.

Arella and Chamilia chose to crack the eggs into the bowl, and my youngest, Bella, wanted to measure the dry ingredients. As we started to mix the batter, I was filled with gratitude. Touching the little hands of my children brought tears to my eyes.

It was about the time we were adding the chocolate chips that Arella looked up at me and said, “I remember you now.”

I got down on my knees to look her in the eyes. The sparkle was there. She remembered me.

“I missed you, Mom,” she said and wrapped her arms around me in a strong little girl hug. She held on tight for at least a minute.

Chamilia and Bella got down off the chairs they had been standing to help make the cookies and joined in on the hug. Although I felt like crying, I did my best to keep it together. I managed to keep it together and only a few big tears rolled down my face.

“I love you girls more than all the tea in China.”

“I love you more than all the stars,” said Arella.

“I love you more than all the sand,” said Chamilia.

“I love you and cookies,” said Bella.

We all laughed.

At the end of our visit, they gave me a card they had all signed. On the front was a park setting, surrounded by trees, all in black and white, except for a bench, which was green.

Before they left to go back to their fathers, they started to get emotional and didn’t want to leave. I told them that any time they miss me or want to see me, they can close their eyes at bedtime and imagine the green bench. I will sit and wait for you in my dreams every single night, and any time you need me, I will be there waiting for you.

Coda: My two oldest daughters are with me now, and my ex and I have been able to co-parent successfully. My youngest has been with her father since the beginning of the pandemic. Going to court over custody arrangements is exhausting, and the issue of parental alienation is not adequately addressed in the family court system.


Terilynn Bradshaw is a business owner, writer, and comedian who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of The Handbook on Surviving Parental Alienation. She can be found on Backstage.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. oatmeal

1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix all ingredients well.

Scoop tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet .

Press dough with tines of a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Cool on a rack.


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