October 13, 2011

Your childhood only sucks if you look at it that way

My Mother, the Tyrant

Well not really. She’s not like a ruler or anything. If I had said she ran our household with an iron fist that would be totally false. But despite the definition of tyrant I wonder if it would have been more “normal” if she had been, instead of more or less absent. She didn’t run much of anything if I recall correctly. And if we are talking about memories here my own have become quite tainted. As a child I would recall things as facts. My mother is sick. My mother can’t take care of me. I live with my grandmother. Not much emotion behind these answers when asked why I didn’t live with my mother just plain recited answers. As I grew up I would put together scraps of information heard over the years from my grandmother or aunt that I was given up because my mother said she couldn’t raise me. This information didn’t do much to create positive or negative regard for my mother it was just the way it was. She would come visit us on holidays or during the summer for a night or two, often threatening to leave within hours of arrival after some usual argument or another. She would spend most of her time there organizing her many pills, stirring artificial creamer into her coffee and sitting at the table across from my grandmother looking out the window. She would walk to the store for my grandmother to buy her Vodka and cigarettes and come back bearing her goods only to use it against her later “I went to the store for you how many times?”. My grandmother didn’t drive. We did our errands when our generous neighbors or my aunt would offer to take us to the grocery store or shopping.

It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I really began to reflect on my childhood as more shitty than not. The once rose colored glasses now turning a gunky brown. This isn’t to say that I’m looking for a sympathetic ear or being downright pathetic but if I am to be honest with my feelings as I have grown into an adult with codependency, mental issues and addiction issues I have to take realistic stock of my childhood overall and zero in on my mother. From what I know she was married young at 19 and had me when she was 20. She married a man she went to high school with who would later spend the better part of his adult life up to a few years ago in prison. In her early 20’s she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I have memories of the years before being officially in my grandmothers care of staying home from school because she wouldn’t get out of bed. I remember the window to my room, which was in an old house of a man she was dating, being cracked and the room becoming so cold that the hamsters I kept in a ten gallon tank froze to death. I remember being scared to use the bathroom because the water in the tank was so filthy that I wet the bed instead. My mother would have sudden mood swings that left me punished and force fed in my bed in the early afternoon. I wouldn’t be let out of my room even to go to the bathroom so I went in my shorts.
When I was seven and told by my grandmother that I would never have to leave her house that it was my house now I was flooded with relief. I was anxious about my mother’s visits thinking that she was going to take me back but if she had any desire to bring me back to her she showed no signs of it. I didn’t understand until much later that it was better off this way. I have done papers on M.S. and have seen many others with the illness lead as normal a life as any but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I feel that she was not the type to embrace motherhood; I think this was an easy way for her to relinquish being a full time parent.
If I ever got sick I would do everything and anything in my power to keep my child. I wouldn’t want to miss the bond and the awesome responsibility being a mother is. My daughter is 5 and it has been no walk in the park so far. I can see how at times a person would want to give up and hide away until the frustration has blown over but you don’t. You admit you are not perfect and you do the best you can. And maybe she did just that after all. Her best was to give me a chance with the only person she knew who would love me like she didn’t and couldn’t.

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