While I am clear on the fact that I don’t want this to turn into an ‘I hate mom’ thing, when you start looking at your earliest memories mom is a prevalent figure in most of our lives. One of my few constants anyway (constantly inattentive, constantly drunk, constantly abusive....you get the idea). I cannot begin to address my own emotional junk without addressing my relationship with her. That would be like leaving the giant pink elephant in the room and pretending it isn’t there. Besides, until I address the elephant and thus relocate it or with any luck remove it completely I won’t be able to get at the other stuff.
This won’t be pretty, it rarely is. I am insanely jealous of those who actually do have good relationships with their moms but also very happy for them. Everyone deserves a good relationship with their mom. Unfortunately there are a great number of walking wounded on this planet and so many of those wounds were caused by our moms.
Mom was only 20 when she had me and she informed me that she never wanted me but abortions were illegal when when she got pregnant and she was scared to go to one of the ‘back alley butchers’. Funny thing is, she didn’t spit it out when we were having one of our epic mother-daughter showdowns, we were just having conversation. Nope, not even kidding, she actually told me that. Wow, mom, so nice to know that I have always been a reminder of something you never wanted.
Anyway, it was the early 70s, love was free, she fucked around and was stuck with me. It is my understanding that we lived with my grandparents while she was pregnant and for a while thereafter. I’ve never met my father although I have a name and he lives in the same city as me (as far as I know), I sort of figure if he wanted something to do with me, he would have come around long before now. Who am I to show up on his doorstep some 40 years later? I’m sure he has a life and has moved on. The name on my original birth certificate is the name of her first husband, but she was separated from him and he’s not my father. Anyway she finalized her divorce and started hopping around from man to man moving from city to city and toting me with her like I was just another piece of luggage.
I know this is starting to sound a lot like poor me, but that isn’t my intent at all. In fact, these early years, I don’t remember at all. Funny thing, I find that there is a LOT of my childhood that I don’t remember. I don’t remember much at all until my mom married husband number 3 and we moved to Kansas. He was 19 years older than her and financially secure. She was his trophy wife, before the phrase had ever been coined. That marriage lasted nearly 10 years though, I guess. But even it had a fatal flaw.
Anyone who remembers the 70s, even dimly, probably is familiar with the term ‘swinging’ or ‘wife swapping’. They were swingers. Except she didn’t have the decency to hide it from me. Rather than getting a sitter for me (I was an exceptionally sweet and easy to manage child - no, really I was, stop laughing) they would take me with them, stick me in a bedroom with a tv and some oreo cookies (I was amazingly self winding) and I’d stay there until they were done or I fell asleep whichever came first. It only really left scars when I would wake up in a strange place and start wandering around. Ooops! I mean, when you’re a child you don’t want to see your mom and dad, ‘doing it’ much less your mom and someone else’s dad.
I’m not sure she was really into the swinging thing though, because she stayed drunk most of the time. I’m guessing it was her coping mechanism. You see, as a trophy wife she was offered up to all of husband number 3’s friends like a party favor. Pretty sad for her actually. I just mostly tried to stay out of her way. Unfortunately that isn’t always possible.
On top of being amazingly self-winding (as an only child), I was also astonishingly lazy and preferred to spend my time daydreaming than doing my chores or schoolwork. I would pretend things like I actually belonged to another mother altogether. They gave me to the wrong mom at the hospital. My ‘real’ mom was wonderful and attentive and baked cookies. Not really sure why the baking of cookies was a pre-requisite for my fantasy mom, but she always baked.
There were many times when I failed to clean my room and even more times when I decided that I had better things to do than homework. No one was interested enough in what was going on with me to make sure it was getting done so mom never knew that I was falling down academically until report cards came out. Those were usually particularly bad nights. She was already angry with me because of my grades which led her into my bedroom (which was NEVER tidy). A lot of yelling would ensue along with throwing things and beating me with whatever was handy. Again that sounds a lot like poor me, but it is essential to understanding.
Once, I was having a sleepover with a girlfriend and she saw me changing clothes. I had large angry purple welts all over my legs. She was horrified and said that we had to tell someone. I begged her to let it go that it was fine and I deserved it. I know now that I didn’t and do much better by my own children. I refuse to continue the cycle of abuse.
The upshot of the whole thing? Mom’s neglectfulness, abuse, drunken, swinging, ways didn’t change the fact that I loved her dearly. Or maybe its just that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know? I did, and do, love my mother but I was terrified by the prospect of not having her even though she often terrorized me.
I have a feeling there will be a lot more about the pink elephant as I proceed on my trek to the truth. But for now, lets fast forward. When I was 13 she separated from husband number 3 because she found someone new. Once again, I was just along for the ride. All total she’s been married 7 times. I think the 6th was the worst. The 7th was actually a remarriage to husband number one. I do appreciate your efforts to keep up as this seems very convoluted even to me sometimes.
The truth can be a bit elusive, but we’ll get there.