I’m a 12-year old kid but I’m wise beyond my years and more responsible than most of the adults in my life. They say that comes from being the oldest of 4 kids, I say it’s because my mother was crazy. She had everyone fooled including our dad but us kids knew she was on the edge of sanity most of the time. I was the one the younger kids came to when mom was so out of it she didn’t know which end was up and which was down. When she wasn’t telling us how she was going to kill herself she was fighting with someone, a neighbor, another family member, dad, our oldest brother. I don’t know why she seemed to hate him for some reason for which I never figured out. Karma got her on that one though, and that one is a sad, unfortunate story.
We moved from Seattle, Washington in 1979 and that’s when things went wrong for the whole family. Our uncle’s new wife’s son molested my younger sister, she was 3 years old, and he was 7. He and his sister had been severely abused by their bio dad and possibly even their own mother as it later came out. Based on family history, my mom was a little on the kookier side to start with but this sent her over the edge, way over the edge. There was nothing she could do about what happened, and they lived right next door to us on the property that was purchased jointly. She felt trapped and isolated from everyone and everything she was used to.
My dad, who owned his own contracting business and did better than well with it, in Seattle was now unemployed and looking back I can see he was depressed almost to the point of not caring about much. With mom constantly telling him everything was his fault and that he brought us to this “hell-hole” and pretty much that he was worthless, who could blame him? Mom got a job, briefly a couple of months tops, but to this day she makes it sound like she worked her tail off while dad sat on his ass all day. In reality, dad did work at odd jobs farming hay and building cabinets or a deck for someone here and there, but not a real steady 40 hours a week to support your family job.
We were on welfare. I remember sitting in the welfare office for what seemed like hours on many occasions. She figured it looked better if she dragged her kids with her, I guess. I also remember standing in line for government cheese. People make jokes about that nowadays but government cheese did exist, trust me. I remember our mom sending us kids into the store to buy a .20 pack of gum with a food stamp dollar to get enough change to buy herself a pack of cigarettes. She didn’t care that I was humiliated almost to death. I got all the babysitting jobs as I could to buy some of my school clothes and a horse. I put down 1.79 on my first horse and made payments until she was paid off in the amount of $200. I was pretty proud of that.
The morning of my youngest brothers 7th birthday my dad woke me up to help him with something. I thought he wanted me to make him coffee or pack him a lunch because he was going on a haying job. What he wanted was for me to watch my mom and make sure she didn’t vomit and aspirate on it, while he went to find a phone at the neighbors to call 911. Strewn all over the floor were empty prescription bottles. I think that’s when I became the parent, and we started tiptoeing around her like she would drop dead at the slightest thing gone wrong. There was another time we got off the school bus and mom was nowhere to be found. My brother begged me to go check behind the haystack because our mother had threatened to go behind the haystack and blow her brains out so many times. That broke my heart and scared me all at the same time.
The day I turned 16 I got a job at the grocery store. I think they felt sorry for me for all the times I was forced to come in with a food stamp dollar. I worked hard and got a lot of compliments for it. I took extra shifts when I could and worked until close most nights after school. My family had the electricity cut off for non-payment and since they had ruined both mom and dads credit, I had it put into my name and I paid the bill. I didn’t need to start my life with bad credit and I certainly couldn’t stand by and let my siblings do without hot water, heat and cooked meals. Not when I could do something about it.
I remember buying my sister school clothes and my youngest brother toys, our oldest brother, a year younger than me, had a job of his own and bought his own things he wanted or needed. I didn’t mind providing what I could for my family, that’s what families do, right? Eventually, it got to the point where I needed to work more and more and I quit going to traditional school and switched over to the alternative, which was not to my liking, so I went in and took the GED test. I passed those tests with high enough scores to get into almost any college or state university I wanted to attend. I had dreams of making something of myself someday, a large animal veterinarian, or a child psychologist.
It got weird at work when my mom started showing up on paydays looking for me with her hand out. My boss took it upon herself to notice this and tell her I wasn’t there, that when I got off work I left with friends. Then a miracle happened and I met my husband, he saved me, I truly believe that with all my heart. I was able to leave that job and move away. By that time, my sister was 13 and presumably old enough to take care of herself. After all I took care of all 4 of us at 13, right? She wasn’t nearly as mature as I was, and she was a real handful. Mom would never let go what happened to her and reminded her of it every chance she got so of course she was pretty messed up too. To this day, my sister is messed up and I don’t necessarily blame what happened to her at age 3, I blame our mother for making her relive it over and over again.
I never finished college, my dreams changed. I wanted a family of my own to raise in a way that was opposite the way I was. I got married, and we had three beautiful babies who grew up happy and healthy, in every way. I feel like I broke the cycle that my mother lived through and her children lived through. I know that all three of our kids love us and believe they had a normal healthy childhood. They see how their grandma is, and they know that my growing up was rough. When they come to me and tell me how much they appreciate their dad and me for raising them “normal” and that we did a great job, my heart swells. I devoted everything to them and I made sure they had everything I didn’t. Most importantly a mother who loves them unconditionally and is present anytime they need anything. We’ve been blessed with one granddaughter so far, and she will know she can count us for anything too. Family is the most important asset we have, we need to treat them as such.
I sat down to write today with the intention of freeing myself from my mothers latest fight, which she chose to engage me in. Out of the blue as always, random displays of hatred and nonsensical ideas. I found it’s best to let her say what she’s going to say even though, it’s always untrue and hurtful, and let it go. It’s hard on me sometimes, when I need a real mother in my life and don’t have one. I am so thankful for my husband and my children, I don’t know what I would do without them.
Much love to all,