I don’t have a fitting quote to begin today’s entry with as I usually do. I think I can just say that she [Mom] did the best with what she had while she could. Choices were made, lives were lived as such. She was great, then she lost herself and ultimately pushed me out. Did she have regrets? Did she really still love me or did she hate me the way it seemed? I will never know, she’s gone. I write this today to remember good times and deal with some of the bad. I honor her today for wanting me, adopting me, giving me a home, loving me in the best way she could and keeping a roof over my head (most of the time).
Remember when you were little and you’d get sick and only mommy could make it better? Well, I am sick as a dog this week and man do I wish I had my mom to take care of me!! My early mom, that is. I have a lot of laying around time and I am upright long enough to do some writing. I essentially had three moms in one. When I was little, my mom was great and today I write about that mom, and as she began morphing into the next stage – which was not so great. As far back as I can remember, I was Mom’s little buddy and I was by her side all the time. I remember standing on a chair for hours in the kitchen with her doing everything she did right by her side. I did dishes with her, I helped her cook, she always let me cut out the biscuits, I would weed the garden right next to her. She would dig the trench I would drop the seeds and cover them. Harvesting was my favorite time! She loved to play tricks on me with the corn…saying that if you watched close you could see the sprout pop out of the ground! I waited and watched as she giggled and finally told me she was teasing me. Those were the good days.
My parents were foster parents in Corpus Christi, TX when I was born in 1971 and after being in the hospital for 8 days with jaundice, I went home with them as one of several foster children in their home in addition to the 3 boys of their own. Mom had recently miscarried and had been devastated by the miscarriage and wanted a little girl so badly. She said that as soon as I came home with them, she knew she wanted to adopt me and felt like God sent me to her after her loss. She didn’t know the gender of the lost baby, it was too early but she was sure it was a girl in her heart and I was meant to fill that void for her. Back in that time in TX, the laws were such that if you wanted to adopt a foster, you had to give up your right to foster any more kids; so they traded their foster license to adopt me. That always made me feel so special. I was chosen! Most of my life (with exception here and there) I looked at myself as being chosen, not given away. As a small child I didn’t feel any different than the boys, I felt like part of the “family”. It wasn’t until a little later that this changed, but I’ll get to that.
Mom was a good mom when I was little, as far as cooking dinner, keeping the house clean, regular housewife chores. She was never one to get up and fix my hair for school, or walk me to the bus. Only on the first day did she fix my hair, then she was back to sleep for the rest of he year. Dad got me up and ready every day and I fixed my own hair and picked my own clothes. But she was great when I was sick. She would rub Vicks on my chest, give me a hot towel and stroke my hair. That was my favorite. To this day, I love to be held and have my hair stroked, especially if I’m upset or don’t feel good. But as an adult, that’s rare, it’s a little weird. Haha! Sometimes my daughter does it for me which is sweet because I always did it for her. I put her to sleep that way every night. Her hair grew with a little bit of a cowlick and I think it’s because I rubbed her hair that way so much! Anyway, I digress; back to the story! She sang to me a lot and I thought she had the best voice! I remember asking her why she wasn’t a singer on the radio because she had such a pretty voice. In hindsight, it wasn’t that great, but she was Mom and I thought everything she did was great! I would get to lay in her bed or on the couch when I was sick. I would get to watch Captain Kangaroo which was my absolute favorite which I rarely got to watch because I was at school! Also often, the antenna didn’t pick up the channel, but she would try real hard to place it right when I was sick. That’s what a mama does…whatever it takes to make their baby feel better.
Outside of being sick, I have many other fond memories of Mom as a young child. Snow days were especially fun. We lived in Southern Missouri by this time, so we had a lot of snow and ice in the winter. Dad would pull us on an old car hood behind the tractor which was so fun! We had a sleigh he hooked up to the horses to pull us and a huge field we could ride in, it was a true winter wonderland on our farm! Lots of sledding took place, we had a steep hill driveway, but a lot of rocks. We had the Red Ryder sleds and would wax up the tracks good and fly down the hill! Steering those was a trick…but a lot easier than the plastic toboggans! We wore break sacks on our hands and feet to keep dry, mom didn’t want us getting frostbite, we would stay out for hours! When we came in she made the best hot chocolate ever. Nothing we had was ever from a can or jar…so it was not a mix, it was the real thing! Homemade everything. I guess that’s where I get my love for cooking and the challenges of homemaking everything. It’s rewarding to see people enjoying my home cooking! I didn’t appreciate it as a child because I didn’t know any different. Now I know how much work, time and effort it took for her to feed our family. These were the good days! These were the fond memories I have of childhood. To me, this is what being a mom is and that this is how it is as long as you and your child are alive, no matter their age. Before I got sick this week, Ali was sick last week and even at 20 years old, I treated her like she was 5. I waited on her hand and foot and got her anything she needed. Once my baby, always my baby. This was a concept that I wish my mom had known. Unfortunately, this didn’t last.
I’ve written before that age 8 was the magic year, or age that life went to hell. A lot of things had changed since our hot chocolate snow days. My oldest brother had moved out by the time I was 4 (my brothers are all much older than I am) and married when I was 6. My middle brother was my favorite, he is 12 years older than me. I have so many amazing memories of him. He took such good care of me and loved me so much. He got me out of the house as much as he could because he knew I wasn’t treated right even when I didn’t know it myself. I can remember him taking me on dates with him, which I’m sure his dates truly hated!! Ha! We were a package deal. He wasn’t treated the way he should have been either and had also now moved out of the house and I missed him so terribly. My third brother was awful; the one that produced the majority of the abuse I endured throughout my life at home. He was sick, and not just mentally. He had hid first open heart surgery as a toddler and had heart problems his entire life living with a pacemaker in prison today. I don’t know all of the details of what was wrong with him, but he had a lot of issues which made him “special” because Mom considered him her miracle baby. He always got special treatment and he got away with everything. With this being my only companionship in the house now, I became very sad and lonely, and scared. The abuse became much greater once Brian was gone. Andrew knew that there was nobody there to protect me because Mom was oblivious and turned a blind eye and Dad was running the farm and farming the fields from dawn til dark. I tried to spend as much time as I could in the fields or helping Dad in the garden or with the animals but often I was just in the way so I had to be at the house. I was actually 7 during this particular year I am speaking of and when a lot of the trickery began from my brother. That year I was hit in the ribs with a baseball bat resulting in a cracked rib and the wind knocked out of me and a head butt that resulted in a swollen black eye, bloody nose and a chip in the bone just under my eye socket which remains today. It was such trauma to my body that I got incredibly sick and was out of school for two weeks but never once got a visit to the Dr. Both were looked at as “accidents” and this was my first time knowing that I was not truly safe in my own home. It became painfully aware that mom was going to choose Andrew over me no matter what he did, and Dad would follow along to keep the peace.
Over the years, the choosing of Andrew over me grew and grew and the abuse got more violent and unnatural. Mom and Dad were fighting a lot and I know that often they would fight about us and who was on whose side. Mom was a force to be reckoned with and Dad was very much a peace keeper. This was the beginning of Mom’s mental instability, or at least when it became visible to me. Dad would often have to hold her down because she would just go crazy. She went to the doctor and I remember Dad forcing her to take her “pill” and she would calm down and go to sleep. When she would wake up she would act like nothing happened and everything would go back to “normal” for the time being. But I was scared. I never knew when she was going to go off and when she was going to love me. I stayed in my bedroom a lot and played with the animals on the farm a lot. Everything went downhill from here.
My 8th birthday, I spent with my Aunt Francis and Uncle Paul in Blue Springs, MO and I have no idea where my parents were. I remember that my cousin Bobby made me a cake and they had a little party for me because I was missing my parents. They weren’t perfect, but they were my family and I loved and missed them on my birthday. They were all I knew. We had moved into Blue Springs and off the farm at this point. These were the final days of any “normalcy” in my home life. My parents showed their love for their boys during this time and I was along for the ride. Andrew became very sick for a while so he was bed ridden with in home care and a tutor so Mom was with him round the clock. After he got better, the next crisis was Brian’s and it was a doozy. I will save that for another day because it leads into another chapter of our life completely.
As parents, we do the best we can with what we have at the time and our capacity is only so much. Some are better equipped to deal than others. My mom was mentally ill, my dad was lost I think. I’m not sure I understand it yet and I never truly will since they’re both gone. I can’t ask them questions. I can only work through the details in my head and draw the best conclusions possible from what I know. I know they loved me, especially Dad. Mom, I believe she was jealous of me and my independence (as if I had a choice). Most of all, I believe she was jealous of my relationship with Dad. She chose Andrew time and time again and turned her head when he abused me so I didn’t want to spend time with her, I wanted to be with Dad because at least he attempted to protect me! So I would be in the garage with Dad while he worked on the car or help him with yard work or just run errands with him. Mom really started showing hatred toward me at this point. The little things that a mom does for her girl were no longer of interest to her. She became completely belligerent and angrily jealous of Dad ALL the time. She accused him of so many crazy things and accused me of covering for him when we went somewhere. It was pure insanity. She had lost her parental feelings for me at this point, I feel. She never lost it for the boys, but I was an outcast even though I was a young child and did nothing wrong, ever. I developed a nervous stomach condition which by age 8 I was in near constant pain from. Finally at 15 I was able to see a doctor and get medication for it.
Each of her children were very different, we all had our own personalities and desires. As the picture at the top states, each situation is unique. Mom had her own challenges and different skills and abilities or DISabilities as the case my be. She wasn’t perfect and sometimes she was down right awful. I have often wondered since she died if she really still loved me or not. We hadn’t spoken in years and I will tell you friends, that is a hard thing to swallow. I’d like to think that through all the abuse, blind eyes, hurtful words and just plain not being there for me, that she did still love me. Maybe I just want to believe that but I do. Maybe it’s what I need to get through the days. As a mother, I cannot imagine ever falling out of love with my daughter. Alex is the best thing that ever happened to me and while some days I want to strangle her, (hehe) no matter how old she is, you’ll find me at her bed side if she’s sick or right by her side any time she needs me. I will love her more than anyone or anything for LIFE. How could you not? Food for thought…anyone else have parents that passed while you were estranged? I would love to hear anyone else’s perspective.
As always, thank you for reading, please share my site! I appreciate your following me and reading my story. There is a lot to it and my life has not been a fairy tale by any means. While it saddens me, it has made me who I am and I am stronger for it in the end. In spite of everything, I love and miss you Mom.