This blog is a platform for people who, as children, were left behind by mothers who migrated to the U.S., Canada, England or elsewhere. It’s their journeys into adulthood. It doesn’t matter if they were left behind in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Philippines, rural China, or Eastern Europe. However, the focus will be on Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and nearby islands.
Some young children were able to reunite with their moms when they got older, sometimes as teenagers. Others never rejoined their original families and became outsiders because of complicated circumstances, including their moms’ new boyfriends, husbands, other children, and hard life in a foreign country. There’s another category of children who were estranged, still in sporadic communication, though never quite able to develop the kind of relationship they desired with their moms. I fall into the last group. When our mother moved to England from Jamaica, I was 5 years old and my sister was 3. I didn’t see her again until I was 28 years old. The last time I saw my mother was November 2014 at a hospital in London; she died that December, three days after I got back home to New York. And I have two half-sisters in England with whom I have very little contact.
My hope is that “barrel children” and other members of the Left-Behind Club will connect and share stories. How did your grandparents, aunts and other caregivers treat you? How did you learn to live with the painful separation? Did you miss your mom every day? Have you healed from this experience? Let’s build a supportive community of light, love, acceptance and forgiveness!
About the Author
Carol Kelly has extensive experience as an editor and staff writer at top news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsday and Gannett. She was part of the editing team that helped the Journal win a Pulitzer Prize for its 9/11 coverage. In 2014, her profile of a deaf high-school basketball player won a New York Association of Black Journalists award for best feature story.
Carol has edited stories for several anthologies of personal essays written by and for teenagers. She contributed her own stories to Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas, a book of travel essays. An avid traveler, Carol joined a group of international travel writers on trips to southern Italy and Greece. She considers Italy one of her places of the heart – along with Jamaica, where she was born.
A summa cum laude graduate of Hunter College, Carol also attended Baruch College, where she completed courses toward an M.B.A. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at CUNY’s Graduate Center. Carol considers herself a product of CUNY, where she works as a writer/editor, and remains a firm believer in public education. She joined the board of the New York Association of Black Journalists in January 2016.
Carol sees the world from the multicultural perspective of a Caribbean native and a U.S. citizen. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.