Category Archives: White trash childhood

“I’ll give you something to cry about”: A Prelude to Mother’s Day

I think it’s fair to say that my mom and I have enjoyed (more often not-enjoyed) a complicated relationship over the years. This is probably true for the vast majority of mother/daughters, it seems to be how these things work. After all, my mom had a complicated relationship with her mother and I don’t think Noelle or Bedot have had it any easier than I, either. Beyond personal experience, look at all the novels, movies, and psychologists who explore this same topic!

If you’ve been here before, you probably know my mom. If you haven’t and don’t, you can introduce yourself to her by clicking the My Horrible Mother tag at the bottom of this diatribe. So, anyway, you  might have guessed that my mom and I, we share a sassy mouth. We both say things that aren’t politically correct…or any sort of correct, really. I’m pretty sure I learned this trait from her. While being on the receiving end of said mouth definitely hardened my skin to a thickness seen only on citrines and rhinos, it was something of an obstacle while I was growing up, resulting in a lot of miscommunication and injured feelings. Some of the slights were real and intentional but most were merely perceived on my part. Regardless, there were things she’d said to me that were burrs in my blanket for years. Or maybe, it was things she didn’t say.

I always wanted to have one of those nurturing mothers, the ones who listen to your hopes and dreams and find ways to help you achieve them, instead of the “practical” (her term)/”negative” (mine) parent who tells you why your ideas won’t work.

The mom I really wanted.

The mom I really wanted.

The mom I felt I had.

The mom I felt I had.

For instance, I always wanted her to like my drawings but she didn’t. I wanted to take art classes but she nixed that plan. I tried to take one in high school as an elective but because she had final say in the matter, I took drafting. I bore so much resentment toward my  mother because I felt she was blocking my attempts to be the artiste I knew I could be, that I so badly wanted to be.  To make things worse, she encouraged Noelle to take art classes, to draw and paint and do all the things I wanted to do. It’s kind of like how I kept asking for Sea Wees for my birthday and Christmas and never got any; Noelle got them, instead. Noelle, who couldn’t keep her poor little Sea Wees’ hair nice and who lost their pets. It’s also like how Chris got ice cream for breaking my Wonder Woman doll! My early life was full of injustice and misery and I’m surprised I survived. Back to my crushed dream, though: I thought my mom would be proud of my artistic endeavors because before she had me, she went to school for art. After she had me, she dropped out and got a job in a deli and never went back. During her angrier moments, on the days that she was probably wondering how she ended up where she was, so far from where she’d planned to be, she told me I’d ruined her life because I kept her from getting a college degree. Remember that smart mouth I inherited? I always reminded her that I did not get her pregnant, I was just the result of her not being able to keep her legs together.

We were an awesome pair. And by “awesome,” I probably mean “toxic.”

The older I got, the more frequent these types of conversations became and it was hard for us to be in the same room for more than half an hour without sniping at each other. I judged her for every decision she ever made. I held what I felt was her lackluster parenting over her at all times. I was self-righteous and constantly told her what she should have already done and what she should do in the future in order to be a better person, a decent mother, even though I hadn’t done anything with my life at that point so really had no foundation of knowledge. Youth allows for a great deal of arrogance, we all know this. But knowing it and being able to deal with it are two different things and I think when your child is battling you with your own weapons, there’s not a lot to do but give up or fight harder. My mom has never been the giving-up kind of person.

I stayed away from the family for a few years. I was so angry, so tired of everything. I felt like I was the only sane one, the only sensible one, the only one who could keep her shit together and nobody gave me any credit for all my hard, honest, upstanding efforts.

Yup. Pretty much.

Yup. Pretty much.

I would only engage with my parents on holidays and then only if my nieces (I don’t think there were any nephews during this time) were in attendance. This lasted for three years, I think? It was ridiculous. I was so irate about things that didn’t even exist, not outside of my own mind, at any rate. I was self-centered and self-wounded and it made me reject the group of people I felt had caused all my problems.

Mom and I broke the barricade I’d put up with the most horrible kind of honesty ever. I was over there for some event, maybe Easter, maybe the Fourth of July. Whatever the case, it was a warm day and Mom, tired from preparing everything for the festivities, tired from me sniping at her, tired of being in a house full of people, just tired, went outside to smoke a cigarette. She was sitting on the front step and I followed her. I meant to make some barbed point that would hopefully make her feel awful about one thing or another but…I dunno, something changed. I sat down next to her and didn’t say anything for a little bit. She smoked. I coughed and then I asked her, “You don’t like me, do you? I mean, as a person. You’ve never liked me.” She looked at me and she said, “No. I don’t. You are not the kind of person I like.”

You know what? Even though I knew that would be the answer I’d get, had known for many years, it hurt. I started crying. We sat there some more. She smoked. I sniffled and coughed. She said, “But I love you. You’re my kid.”

Fat lot of good that did me.

So I did what I’ve always done – mouthed-off, then sucked it up and pretended not to care, just shrugged it all off. Whatevs, dude.

There had been many times up to that point that I did not believe my mother loved me. I didn’t think I loved her, either. Sometimes I hated her. But I hated her because I wanted her to be someone she wasn’t, because I wanted things from her she couldn’t give me because that’s not the type of person she was. Maybe that’s why it hurt so much to hear that she didn’t like me, it was one more thing she couldn’t give me. Some of the reasons for her dislike were real, like I was judgmental and arrogant. I was a bitch. Yes, she had to concede that I probably learned that from her but that didn’t make it a likeable trait. Some of her reasons were things she’d made up, like I thought I was better than everyone else because I went off and got a college degree and traveled across the world. I think she took my enthusiasm over the things I had learned as me rubbing my successes in her face whereas I just wanted her to be impressed with all the amazing stuff I was doing because…well, I wanted her to be proud of me and she wasn’t.

So much miscommunication.

I stayed away from home for a long time after that day despite the knowledge that one of the things I had learned early on, something that also came from my mother, was the value of honesty. Honesty was always a big thing in our house. I love to embellish, to make stories bigger and grander but I still understood when I needed to be honest and when people needed to be honest with me. Honesty gets a bad rap because people only want it when it’s nice and pretty, not when it hurts. The thing is, if it’s real, it will probably hurt. Almost always. There are coping mechanisms you can learn to deal with honesty: You learn to take it, let it hurt you, turn into a big baby over it all, then look at it and figure out what to do with it OR you learn to tune it out and rely solely on what you believe OR you learn to change it into something that is pleasant and agreeable OR you learn to twist it into what you want to hear. There are probably other things you can do, too, but I’m not familiar with them, having never employed them, myself.

I tried to learn the first coping mechanism and I think it has done me worlds of good. There’s not a lot that bothers me anymore. Yes, of course I hate criticism but I can tell when it’s meant for real and when it’s meant to hurt. If it’s meant to hurt, I can just ignore it. When it’s meant for real, I can take it apart to see if there’s a misunderstanding on the part of the criticizer or if there’s something in me that needs to be examined or both. This is an excellent skill to have and I have it because my mom did not mince words. School of hard knocks, and all, but come on, it totally makes for a kick-ass character in the long run.

In case you’re wondering how the whole “I don’t like you” thing turned out? After I sat on that for awhile, pitched some hissy fits, looked at the statement and the feelings behind it for a long time, after I broke so many things down because maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place and maybe after I realized I needed to be less of a jerk and needed to respond to my mother as a person and not as my mommy, I realized maybe we could get along. I think my mom had a similar response because after I ended my self-imposed exile, we both worked at our relationship in a different way. I tried to stop judging what she’d done in our past (except for those damned rolls! How could she lie about that? SO EVIL!) and tried to interact with her like I would a normal person, not like I would with my mother. She had to do the same thing, I couldn’t be her daughter, I had to be a person. After awhile, we worked something out. It was fragile, at first, and it was difficult. It was hard for both of us to not revert to catfighting and I know we’ve slipped up here and there. But we made the effort we both needed to make and, after a few years, we became friends. Once we were friends, it was a whole lot easier for me to respect her and appreciate her knowledge and abilities. I don’t know that she feels the same about me, but I know that she gets excited when I do big things now, instead of resentful because I’m one-upping everyone in the family. She’s become more nurturing, actually. She’s become my mom and I like being her daughter.

Look at us getting along like a good mommy and child! You have NO idea the years and years' worth of work this took. And no, neither of us shoved the other in the water after this shot.

Look at us getting along like a good mommy and child! You have NO idea the years and years’ worth of work this took. And no, neither of us shoved the other in the water after this shot.

So I guess she wasn’t kidding when she said I’d better knock it off or else she’d give me something to cry about…but at least I know she loves me!

 

 

 

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Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood

“Mom says…”: A Prelude to Mother’s Day

You know how moms say all those crazy things? If you’re a mom, you know. You’ve said words that should never be together in a sentence or, worse, sentences that used to come out of your own mother’s mouth years ago. My mom had no amazing sayings of her own, all hers were standard fare, but she did follow through on her threats.

She was always a big fan of the “If you don’t knock it off, I am going to pull this car over!”

1980_Ford_Fairmont

This was essentially the car she was going to pull over, only ours was silver. Photo swipered from stationwagon.com

 

And she did. Several times.

Once, Chris was being such a little shit that I think Mom considered murdering him. We were going into town and Chris was acting up, per usual. Mom threatened him with the big Pull Over and he didn’t stop so she pulled the car well off the side of the road, well, Interstate, actually, and once The Ford was safely parked, she flung herself over the seat into the back seat to smack Chris only because he was part monkey, he jumped into the far back of the vehicle and a 3 Stooges skit ensued. Mom and Chris were diving over seats, getting out of the car, running around the car and getting back in via another door, Chris simultaneously shrieking and chortling, Mom making dire threats.  A police car pulled up behind us to see if we were alright and Mom used that to her advantage, telling Chris that he’d been misbehaving so horribly that the police had to show up. I don’t remember what happened afterward – I think Mom explained to the officer that she was trying to kill her son because he was being a horrible monster and I think the cop did the disapproving stare and gave Chris a “Listen, Young Man” lecture through a window and then Chris settled down, but I might have made that ending up, I don’t know. I do know that no one was arrested or murdered and we all made it to town and back in one piece.

She also enjoyed “Don’t make me come over there.”

You know, the first ten times you hear that as a kid, you’re maybe a little concerned. But note: there’s no consequence implied. What’s going to happen if you make her come over there? Nothing. So after twenty more times that threat is spoken, you’re not worried because it’s meaningless noise.
Until something does happen because you know what? My mom liked to mix things up. 30 “Don’t make me come over there”s were general operating procedure but she meant the 31st. She came over there…with a wooden spoon and we all got smacked about the head, shoulders, fleeing butts, whatever. From then on, irritating Mom was a little like playing Russian Roulette; we never knew which “Don’t make me come over there” was real.

Once Noelle got old enough, probably Kindergarten-aged, Mom broke out the “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” threat. I don’t know that we’d really heard this much before the advent of Noelle; neither Chris nor I were big cry-ers. But Noelle was. By the time I heard that threat, I was eight or nine and logic was beginning to grow in my head. I thought, “She’s already crying about something, even if it’s something stupid. It’s not like she’s just crying on a whim.” Apparently, I was wrong. Mom would go over to Noelle, take away whatever she had, pick her up, carry her to her room, put her in there, and shut the door. That definitely gave Noelle something to cry about.

There was one dire promise Mom never did make good on. When she was totally fed up with us – which was just silly because, honestly, we were adorable little angels all the time – she’d yell, “SO HELP ME, GOD, I AM GOING TO SELL YOU TO THE GYPSIES!” yet she never did. It may have been because there were no gypsies in  Colorado Springs who were willing to buy children. Or, more likely, as she’d explain later, “You children are so bad not even the gypsies would want you.”

29-Mother-hides-her-face-in-shame-after-putting-her-children-up-for-sale-Chicago-1948

If she could have, this would have been me, Noelle, Chris, and Bedot. Sadly, no one would have made an offer. Read more here: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/sold-off-siblings-shown-in-old-photo-tell-their-stories/article_1c095598-89f4-584b-891b-7ef48a1e2082.html

I guess this is what being a mom is all about: Making ridiculous threats, luring your children into a false sense of security, then pouncing! Apparently, it teaches manners or responsibility or twitchiness or something. Actually, not true. You know what we did learn, aside from self-preservation? A sense of humor because we figured out that if we made Mom laugh while we were still on the verge of being in trouble, we could get away with pretty much anything. There was no threat that could withstand the force of funniness and that is why we are all comedic geniuses today.

I wonder if moms still do this – promises of retribution – or if this is something of the past…like Monchichis and  Walkmans? If this is no longer a thing, you kids have no idea how easy y’all got it these days.

 

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“I hate mommy”: A prelude to Mother’s Day

I’ve written, a time or two, about my horrible mother and the awful things she did to us (like lying about bread and telling us the bug museum was boring) Seriously, our childhoods were so miserable, so Annie-like, that Chris, in a fit of anger at being sent to his room for punishment, scrawled “I hate mommy” in mad black crayon of newly-learned letters on the back of his dresser. Mom discovered this act of rebellion years later when we were moving to a new house and she thought it was funny. She told all her friends and they all laughed because they were probably also heartless, evil people.

I recently had the opportunity to play Mom, which is like playing dress-up only with more responsibility, for a week. Noelle’s husband took her to Las Vegas for her birthday and I stayed in their house with their children and their diabetic cat and made sure no one died. Because, really, if you boil it down to the very basics, a parent’s job is to make sure no one dies. I totally rocked that job but in doing so, I had to reminisce on my own early life, had to remember the lessons doled out by my own awful parent in order to pass along wisdom and essential knowledge (such as: if you don’t do your homework, you can’t go outside and play with your friends)

All that thinking led to a shocking realization: while my mother was obviously abusive and mean, she sort of did a really good job at raising her kids. It took me this long to see that not only did we NOT die while in her care, but we can also do a ton of things that many of our peers don’t do. We’re a tough little pack of white-trash, redneck hooligans who can garden, preserve food, pluck chickens, cook food, balance a checkbook, budget a household, mend broken animals, whip out witty/scathing one-liners like we have hundreds to spare, overuse our vast imaginations, completely ignore trends and fashions and look good doing it, read, laugh at ourselves (and everyone else), and stand up for ourselves. We can do these things because we’ve been doing them since we were the ages Noelle’s kids are now. Back then, we also had to make our own lunches, clean the dinner dishes, wash and fold our own clothing, buy our own toiletries, entertain ourselves and a bunch of other crap that was supposed to teach us responsibility and self-reliance, though I don’t think that’s why we did those things. I think it was because Mom got tired of doing stuff for four rotten urchins and told us to learn to take care of ourselves. And we did. And we can. Because our mother taught us how.

Also – we are all very classy because we are apples who have fallen way too close to the tree.

Classy lady - Mom

Classy mother is classy.

Classy lady - Daughter 1

This is our mom’s classy daughter on her wedding day. Seriously.

Classy lady - Daughter 2

This is our mom’s other classy daughter who is probably going to kill me when she sees I posted this. But, hey, it’s on Facebook so it already belongs to The Internet, right?

Classy lady - Daughter 3

Also placed here without permission…and no, she’s obviously nowhere near as classy as the rest of us but, then, this one doesn’t ham it up as often as perhaps other family members, ergo, there are fewer classy pictures of her.

 

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Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My Opinions on STUFF, White trash childhood

I was an angelic child – or – Grudge Number One

I attended a Behavioral EQ workshop yesterday where I was once more reminded that I have the emotional intelligence of a hermit crab. At least I’m consistent, I suppose, as these test scores never waver, not in ten years.

You know how workshops go. You build up through the information and then put it all together to get to the pivotal learning moment, which I did. Yay. However, the thing that has stuck with me was one of the beginning questions: “Can you think of an instance in which you became upset and reacted violently?” (not necessarily physical violence, just more along the lines of the Fight part of “Fight or Flight” response). Here’s something neat about me: I tend to get overwrought, upset, hateful, retributional…retributioney? Retributive!…and then I get over it, move on, and typically forget it ever happened. I have three grudges and maybe five regrets for my entire life, thus far. Most everything else that has upset me greatly is now forgotten, though probably never forgiven, knowing me.

Because of this ability to let go of all the things that piss me off, I wasn’t able to think of any recent instances in which I had been so upset that I reacted horribly, fighting instead being receptive to the elements of my situation and reacting accordingly. I thought back, thought back further, continued to think back until I finally settled on probably one of the two most crucial stress situations in my life. The topic? My First Grudge.

Dial back to 1979. It’s January. I’m probably in third grade. Chris is not in school yet; he gets to stay home with our mom all day, doing the things that non-school-attending children do. The holidays are over but I am still basking in the glow of my amazing loot haul. It had been a Christmas like I had never experienced. I got all the things I’d asked for from Santa plus a whole truckload of other great gifts. However, there were two presents that stood miles above the rest in my love and esteem: My beautiful, new, 13-inch Wonder Woman doll and my incredible Barbie Perfume Maker. I adored these toys more than I had ever adored anything else in all my life. They turned me into Gollum.

Are you with me, so far? Good, because here is what happened next:

You know, in my memory, she is much more beautiful. I’d kept the leotard for a long time but it didn’t fit any other doll so I don’t think it survived to my adulthood. However, the pink halter dress is still somewhere in my family. Perhaps Not-Little B has it?
Image swiped from My Toy Collection blog

Look at it! Just LOOK at it! Doesn’t it make you want to grab a powder stick, fill the little reservoir with water, and create heavenly scents? Oh, the longing I feel when I gaze upon this picture.
Image swiped from Sprinkles and Puffballs: Girl’s Toys Of the 80’s

During the holiday break, I had spent hours and hours creating beautiful perfumes, unique scents you would find nowhere else in the world except for maybe the bedroom of another child who also owned this magical maker of aromatic elixirs. I was ever so precise in my eau de toilette masterpieces, bottling them lovingly, arranging everything so that the glory of my art could be understood no matter who viewed it. In retrospect, maybe I made the wondrous little manufacturing station too alluring.

So there I was, freshly home from my first day back to school. I’d brought Wonder Woman with me, of course, and was taking her to my room so I could help her change into after-school play clothes, as we did back then. I walked with my doll in hand, probably talking to her, down the short hallway and could smell the Barbie perfumes I had made rushing to me, greeting me, beckoning me to come mix a new scent, to rearrange the bottles, to sniff the pastel-colored powder sticks. Filled with joy and anticipation, I flung open my bedroom door and found a  nightmare before me. His name: Chris.

My little brother was in my room, a place he was neither allowed nor welcome. I don’t know if he had been drawn to the perfection that was the Barbie Perfume Maker or if he hated me so much, he wanted to crush my dreams while I watched, but he was on my bed, frolicking like an imp, a small, plastic bottle in each hand with several more dancing at his feet. He was sprinkling the last of my hard-won, carefully-planned, beloved perfumes on my bed. He’d already relieved the rest of the bottles of their magic, dousing my throw rug, my stuffed animals, anything he had been able to find.

Rage.

So much pure red rage.

He was laughing. He was jumping up and down, from bed to dresser to desk, knocking things over and destroying my entire life. I screamed. No animal on the planet has ever before bellowed such a yawp, no amount of pain, suffering, or agony in any other being alive could have produced a cacophony as feral as mine was in that moment. I had Wonder Woman by the legs. I charged Chris. In my need to stop his carnage, I brought the doll up, up, up and then DOWN right on top of his hideous little head. My screams of outrage were immediately matched by his of pain and shock and probably fear. Blood geysered from his skull as if he were a whale just up for air. I looked at the red lifeforce gushing forth like my own anger and felt justified in my action until I realized his knobby little noggin had split my beautiful, my treasured, my precious Wonder Woman doll in twain. The upper half of her body dangled lifelessly and would have fallen to the floor had it not been held by her patriotic leotard while her legs remained firmly gripped in my angry fist. My shrieks, monstrous before, ratcheted up another several octaves, gaining volume and momentum as each second passed.

I probably could have forgiven the destruction of my life’s work, especially since the perfumes could have been recreated. Maybe I could have also come to terms with the demise of Wonder Woman; already the back of my mind was tracking down the nearest duct tape. It was not to be, however, because my horrible, terrible, cruel parents made two disastrous decisions that night and my first-ever grudge blossomed. When it comes time for those “people,” and I use the term loosely because it will soon become obvious there is no humanity in the souls of either my mother or father,  to move into nursing homes, they will wish I was beating them with a 13-inch piece of hard plastic.

My parents ran into the room to find the source of the commotion. I know they could smell the mixing aromas of strawberries, lilacs, little boy’s blood, tears, plastic, and hate and do you know what they did? DO YOU KNOW? They took Wonder Woman from my trembling hand but not with the intention of fixing her sad, broken body. They took her and they threw her away followed closely by the entire Barbie Perfume Maker and all its apparatus (except, as I found much later, for one empty bottle, sans lid, and the white trellis that had fallen behind my desk during Chris’ scamperings) My dad took Chris to the kitchen to apply pressure to his goddamned stupid, hard, toy-breaking head and then to feed him ice cream and I…I! The victim of this heinous double crime! I was lectured, probably spanked (who remembers by that point. What could they have done to me to punish me further?) and told to stay in my room for the rest of the night while the two things I loved most in the world were taken from me, put out in the garbage can, and placed on the curb for morning pickup. I had no dinner. No family TV time. No bath. I couldn’t even brush my teeth. I am surprised, in retrospect, that I did not die of dehydration in the night, since I had nothing to drink and I am fairly certain I cried every ounce of moisture from my body. And it’s not like I could subsist on perfume water as it had all been tossed away.

I will never, ever forgive my parents for coddling my evil little brother and punishing me for his misdeeds and while I appreciate the strides his wife has made in recent years to correct his long-ago dastardly acts, Chris is on my shit-list for all of time, as well.

And that is the story of My First Grudge, the first time my amygdala urged me to fight with fury instead of flee with fear.

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood

Reflections of a bastard: A serious post

Warning: This isn’t one of my amusing posts. It’s a true story, yes, but without the spark of mischief most of my childhood stories seem to involve. Also, there are no pictures.

When I was almost 12, I found out my dad and I weren’t actually biologically related which led  me to believe David Bowie was my father. It made sense to me at the time and sometimes I randomly hope it still turns out to be true because, come on, how cool would it be to have Ziggy Stardust, the Goblin King, as your dad? Pretty freaking cool.

Not long after I found out my dad wasn’t my dad, I had the opportunity to meet my biological father. I spent weeks being nervous. Who was he to me? What would I say when I met him? Was I mad at him? I thought I was but part of my anger was that, round-aboutly because of him, I had to start shaving my legs and I wasn’t ready for that. My dad, whom I now understood was actually my step-dad, was going to adopt me so I had to go to court and speak before the judge. The man who gave his sperm to make me was supposed to show up, as well, to tell the court he was ok with this. Because I was going to court, I had to wear pantyhose instead of my cute child tights and because I was going to wear pantyhose, I had to shave and because I didn’t want Band-Aids to be visible through the hose, I had to learn well in advance how to do this strange female thing without butchering myself (I only wore one Band-Aid for my court date, it was on my ankle bone which is still where it most often appears when I bother mowing down the leg hairs) Because I had an unknown father, I had to grow up sooner than I’d wanted.

So I shaved and wore pantyhose and went to court and spoke politely to the judge and was nervous about meeting my real dad only he didn’t show up and so defaulted his consent to my adoption. I never saw his face. I was hurt. Talk about “I shaved my legs for this?” A few years later, I thought about contacting him, finding him, meeting him, and this plan followed me well into my teen years. Then I just…forgot about him somehow. He was no longer a big deal. I’d gleaned enough information about him from my grandmother, my grandfather, my aunt, and others to know he wouldn’t make a difference in my life anyway.

He came up again shortly after I got married the first time around, as we discussed having children. Yes, I discussed having children once, believe it or not. I’ve got a lot of health problems on my mom’s side of the family but I had no idea what else lurked in my blood and I realized I would have to contact this father of mine for a health history, you know, because that’s good planning. I didn’t try very hard to track the man down, mainly because (as I now know) I was using him as an excuse to put off getting pregnant. Soon enough, it became a moot point because that husband and I divorced and went our separate ways. After that, I knew I didn’t want to have children so as soon as I could, I got spayed and ceased having to worry about what mysteries reside in my DNA to potentially be passed along. I once again forgot about the father I didn’t know. Granted, it comes up from time to time, mostly when talking to Noelle or Alex because it always weirds us out to realize we’re only half-siblings. I used to hold that over them when I was a mean teen and wanted to distance myself from all the people in my family but I don’t think I’ve ever believed the truth of the fact. We’re sisters and brother and that’s that.

Now that I’m old, it’s a bit easier to look at this whole thing objectively. My life was never impacted by not knowing my biological father. It’s been an off-and-on source of curiosity but it certainly hasn’t impeded my progress or success nor has it contributed to any of my failures. I’ve had plenty of male role models in my life, from my grandfather and my uncles to my mom’s current husband. I like to think the self-inflicted shame of being a bastard (self-inflicted because nobody cared in the 80’s; it wasn’t a thing in my community) helped me be scrappier and stronger and more motivated to show the world that I could do whatever I set out to do despite my disadvantage which, as it turned out, wasn’t anything like a disadvantage at all. It’s not like I was denied college entry because I was the product of an unplanned teen pregnancy.

And yet…I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a child and not know the child, not because the other parent has taken that opportunity from you but because it was a choice you made, yourself. You wouldn’t know it, but I do have a vague and incorrect idea of what it’s like to be a parent; I’ve helped to raise a lot of kids, some of them related and others not. I don’t know what it means to be a mother but I know what it feels like to love someone so much that you would kill someone else to protect her, that you would sacrifice your own life to save his, that you would make hard decisions based on their well-being if you had to. I know that kind love even if the children I feel that way toward did not come from my uterus. I know what it’s like to choose not to have children but I don’t know how it feels to have a child come from me and then to never see it, never acknowledge it, by choice. I know there are plenty of parents out there who are in that exact situation. Do they ever wonder what has become of their kids? Do they grow old and wish they’d have made a connection so that they’d have one more person who will care when they die? Or do those children never appear in their thoughts? Does my father think of me as often – or as little – as I think of him? I guess it’s different for every one of those parents, but it all seems strange to me. The thing my family has taught me is that, even if you hate them, family is everything, it’s vitally important, a cornerstone to your entire being. Luckily, I love my family (most of the time), both the family I was born with and the family that has grown since.

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Filed under Adventures, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood