So I’m watching my sons friends pulled out of my car in front of our house, we just finished up a day at the lake fishing and goofing around.
Each of the 4 boys, all 15 to 16 years old come up to me one by one and say “Thanks Mom” and give me a big hug.
Yes, I’m that Mom. The Mom who all the kids call Mom and the Mom whose house is the place to hang out because my doors ALWAYS open.
This is the complete opposite of how I grew up. Nobody EVER came to my house, everyone was afraid of my Mom and didn’t like the “vibe” in our house. Hugs were never given and the words
“I Love You” were NEVER spoken.
Words like “your being stupid, you look pregnant, or my all time favorite, you will never get it right” were common place in our house; but more then anything was the silence and the high expectations of me staying out of sight and out of mind.
I much prefer our crazy house of today. Lots of jokes, funny moments and hugs!
Flash ahead 3 years and I’m in college. Stopped by my mother’s house to say hello.
Found my mother and my then 11 year old brother sitting in the backyard while my mother dyed my brothers hair Fire Engine Red.
The irony was not lost on me.
As I was waiting for my son to get out of school today, I sat in my car enjoying the warm son beating down on my now boney knees and thighs. Nutritional Deprivation has not been kind to my knee caps and the bruises on my legs are proof of that.
I started to think back to when I was in high school, a very difficult time in my life filled with painful words and stolen happiness.
I remembered the time my mother announced to me and anyone within ear shot that I “was not her daughter” and if I happen to be anywhere with her in public she would denounce my existence to anyone who would listen.
You see, I was 16 and I had just spent 2 hours at the hair salon downtown having my hair colored. I had platinum blonde foiled into my already blondish brown hair. We lived in the country about 30 minutes from the downtown salon. Lots and lots of never ending hills and ditches with no sidewalks or street lights along the way.
My mother told me I would have to walk home because she would not have me in her car. Stunned by her latest punishment I started my long walk home. This was well before the age of cell phones so seeking out help was not an option.
After about an hour and a half I found myself in a familiar neighborhood, it was at that moment I began to sob. I realized that even though I had walked for an hour and a half I still had hours of walking ahead of me and it was getting late.
I don’t remember knocking on the door but the next thing I do remember was standing in the kitchen of a boy I went to school with whose mother was a foster parent to the boy I had a huge crush on for the past year. Neither boy was home but the mother saw my tears and immediately took me in and hugged me, only knowing my first name and the fact that I went to school with her son.
I told her what happened and asked her if I could use her phone. I called my mother at home and began begging her to come get me because I knew I couldn’t finish the walk home.
My mother said that my problem wasn’t hers but that if I wasn’t home by 9pm (my bedtime) I would be on restriction for 2 weeks. Restriction was terrifying to me, it meant complete isolation. Your room was stripped of all wall hangings, all your personal possessions were removed and all you were left with was yourself and most times your bed, which you were not allowed to sit on until it was bedtime.
You were allowed out of your room to eat, go to the bathroom and to go to school; that was all and stepping outside the restriction barriers usually got you the belt on your naked backside and the loss of things like your hair dryer or the one item of make up you were allowed to wear.
I began to cry even harder begging my mother to help me get home. She refused and added to her threat that if I got a ride home I would really be sorry.
I hung up the phone and began to leave the house where I sought help from the nice mom who gave hugs.
She stopped me and asked if I wanted to stay with her and her family, if I wanted a safe place to live and call home.
As much as I wanted to say yes, I didn’t dare. I knew my mother’s wrath would be bad for any and everyone involved and I didn’t want that. I just needed to get home before the clock ran out and I made my mother even angrier.
I reluctantly accepted a ride home from the boy I went to school with who was now home and trying to make me feel better by doing his best impression of the cool high school kid who wanted to help the crying girl standing in his kitchen being hugged by his mom.
As I left the mom hugged me again, told me I was beautiful and gave me their home telephone number in case I ever needed their help again.
In one day I had been hugged numerous times, told I was beautiful and rubbed elbows with one of the more popular kids at my high school. Three things that had not been usual in my life up to that point.
I asked to be dropped off about a mile from home. I knew she would know I hadn’t walked but I thought that not pulling up in front of the house in a car was showing my mother the respect she demanded and expected from me at all times.
I managed to avoid restriction having walked in the door at about 8:30pm but the new “Not My Daughter” rules were in full force and the usual coldness of my mother’s heart was beyond frigid now.
I was snapped out of this childhood memory by the sound if my 16 year old son throwing his backpack into the back seat and him jumping into the passenger seat next to me with his usual banter starting up the moment his bum hit the seat.
I smiled and thought to myself, “I’m driving my son home now and if he asked me to make any stops on the 30 minute drive home (he goes to school out of district) I would gladly make the stop for him because he’s my son.
I’ve fought the good fight my entire life. Nothing has ever come easy and I have appreciated my little and few successes more then most know.
But why am I dying now? I feel like at age 42 my life is suppose to be starting. My children are all almost grown and heading into the world on their own. My husband lives quite separately from me on a daily basis and most of my lifetime friends have moved on and my childhood friends have drifted back into my life with open arms and memories.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fighting but the days are long and I’m tired. I go to bed reluctantly each night, afraid of what sleep might bring.
I watch my life becoming shorter and shorter, and all I can think is how much more I wish I had given to, done with and cherished my children.