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A Bittersweet Life

Tsiuri Abuladze-Khutsishvili, 77.

When I became a mother and found out that my son was born with primary microcephalies, that’s when my life changed.


I got married at the age of 30. My husband and his parents were outstanding individuals. I was 33 when I had three children already. I lived with my in-laws for 25 years. However, we loved and respected each other.


I never asked for leave at work. My in-laws helped me with my youngest son, and my mother took care of my second son, while I worked. I used to come back home in the afternoon and take care of all the other duties. When my in-laws became older, it became harder for me to manage responsibilities at work and at home. However, I didn’t quit.

Looking after my son with microcephalies was tough. The energy I spent on his care was equivalent to bringing up 24 children. The desire to save his life was my source of energy to cope with the night tantrums and sicknesses.


In search of a cure and treatment, we took my son abroad. We were told that it was the sixth case that couldn’t be cured. They suggested that we leave him at the hospital. I remember what my husband said at that moment: “I would never leave my puppy here, how can I possibly leave my son?!”


His body grew, he changed his teeth, and he got a beard too. We took good care of him for 24 years. He seemed to be happy, which can’t be said about my husband and I. Our days were truly tough. If my motherhood experience went differently, I would definitely be a mother of many children, I would give birth to every child that would be given to me.

He was 24 years old when he passed away. It was the most difficult and unbearable day in my life.


The happiest moment that I experienced was when my second son called me a mother.

There was big sweetness in our family, my husband was very supportive and we were happy together. Despite his busy work life, he would always find time for me. We didn’t have any difficulties in the family apart from our son’s health condition.


My childhood and youth were careless and happy. We would travel a lot. I loved being active in many ways. Living with my first family was a totally different life. My father died when he was 51. My mother tried her best to let us experience different things and supported us all the time.


I started to work for the same school where I studied after obtaining my degree in Pedagogy. My school is a century and a half years old now. Work life was successful. Diplomas, certificates, achievements - I earned plenty of them within the 56 years that I spent in service. I also was a deputy director of the school.


I played in the regional team of the volleyball. Nobody could take my hit. At school, children were asking me to throw the ball even when I was already old, and I enjoyed playing with them a lot. I was good at sports, both I and my husband.

At the age of 73, I started to experience vision problems and this became the reason to leave the teacher’s job. Otherwise, I still feel energetic and capable of working.  


Now I worry about my sons who are not married. It’s painful for a mother when you can’t imagine their future with their family. I contributed to the growth of so many children within 56 years but never had a chance to experience what it is to have a grandchild.


I didn’t get any support from society and the government when I was a mother of a child with an incurable diagnosis. Now the number of children with a variety of autism spectrum has grown. It would be good if there would be any kind of support system for their mothers.

From my own experience, as a mother and a class teacher, it’s a mistake to put these children together with the others in the same classroom. They need a specific environment. We can’t avoid and escape bullying from other students’ side and this has a negative impact on the children with diagnosis.


The death of my son put a big mark on my other sons' mental health. They suffered a lot psychologically. I remember my second son was lying on the ground crying loudly: “Mother, don’t let him die, or I will kill myself too.”


It was this difficult… His brothers were neglected at some point. They never had enough attention from their parents. They have never spent any vacations with their parents. That’s why I say that it would be better if we provided a separate space for children with special health conditions.  



I am extremely kind, and I will share my last bite with the other.


I can’t hurt anybody. I will never insult anyone, nor do I tolerate it from anyone.


I would leave my worries at home and put all my energy into work, organize events and celebrations, and leave people impressed by my enthusiasm.


It is necessary for a woman to have a job and an occupation. My work saved me. Despite the sadness, I stood on my legs at work. I hadn’t lost my wings. I let my creativity unleash.

I feel like I took away my mother’s life. She didn't accept my son, she begged me to leave him. I didn’t listen to her. I couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t sleep next to me for a single night, even though I had to feed him three times a day and me and my husband had to wake up at night a million times. My mother died when she was 64.


I call for all mothers to do everything for their children, and give them education. This is crucial. I am pleased to see that nowadays parents choose schools and early years education centers carefully. Their children will be educated and that’s a big step forward.


I regret that I didn’t move to the capital city and that I didn’t give my sons more opportunities. I feel like this is my mistake. Once I planned to move, but I changed my mind after my sister-in-law reminded me of the responsibility of taking care of my old in-laws. I chose to hurt myself instead and so we stayed in the village. It’s funny that my in-laws lived in Tbilisi and they moved to the village because they enjoyed village life more. My mother-in-law was a singer at the Tbilisi Women's Choir and you could always hear her singing and playing piano at our place. My father-in-law was the best human being, very kind, I loved him so much.


Cultural politeness and education are so important for a woman. I have seen mother and daughter-in-law hitting each other. They are usually illiterate and bearers of low culture. You would never see such behavior in educated people.


Looking back at my life, I have done a lot. Now when people of my age meet me and tell me that I was the light of the whole province, it means a lot to me.


I think I am a role model mother among those who have had a sick child. When the school principal came to my place, she was surprised by what she saw. I was taking care of my three children at the same time, all of them with fever. And I didn’t take a day off that day at work. I never missed any work-related events either.


I did not fall. I didn't bother anyone with my problems and worries.


It is possible to be a mother and to also live your life. However, family support is very important.


- If there is an afterlife, would you like to be a mother there too?

- I would definitely be a mother in that life as well, a mother of many children.


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