My Mom….where to start. It feels like ripping a scab off of a wound but strap in because here we go. When my mom was younger she had a dangerously high fever that left her with a learning disability; it was never really addressed, they just knew she took a little longer to learn things. Things like her writing, reading and comprehension skills fell behind. Often the difference between right and wrong was fuzzy. She had me in her late thirties. And her relationship with my father started out rough; this was around the time he had to come to terms with Paranoid Schizophrenia. The clash of the two disabilities inevitably lead to a divorce. Which left just her and I. The courts ordered joint custody which meant I had to split holidays. We had a two bedroom apartment in California and things were really good. She has two brothers and a sister that lived close and we saw them quite often. My Uncle Bill was so much fun, he always had this rule about eating dessert before your meal. I mean who was
I to argue with that logic?
I had my Mickey and Minnie Mouse bedroom set and my mom right next to me. No drama, just us. I remember her cooking me eggs every morning and then we would sit in front of the TV and get a blanket and cuddle and eat breakfast while we watched cartoons. I remember feeling so safe and happy at that time. She helped me learn how to ride a bike. And she would always get me to laugh every time I fell off of it and scratched up my knees and elbows. She would pitch for me when I would want to practice baseball, and we would draw and color for hours. She picked me up every day from school, and we went to the park, hung out, got ice cream and walked around the stores. I remember she gave the best hugs. She always kept her hair long and managed to smell so good. All I wanted was to hold her tight. I loved her so much. My mom was the best and nobody could tell me any different.
But unfortunately, Time has a way of changing things and people. And as with everything it’s not always for the better. Like when my first stepdad came into the picture. I was never too fond of my stepfathers. Like most children in this situation, I just wanted my real Dad. I was cordial but wasn’t sure how to process much of it. As it turns out, We would have been better off alone. He was very abusive and ended up beating up my Mom in front of me. He finished it one day by kicking her down the stairs. We had moved to a new city and really didn’t know anyone or have any family around at the time. So we left and went to a hotel. We didn’t have much money growing up so it wasn’t in the best neighborhood but we were safely out of his house, and that was all that mattered. By now I was around seven to eight years old and was slowly becoming the parental figure while my Mom faded into the child role little by little each day. I remember so clearly holding her in the hotel room while she cried in my arms. Then once she fell asleep, I took the chair out from under the writing desk and propped it under the doorknob so nobody could break in during the night. Then I covered her up with a blanket and watched TV till I fell asleep.
Once again it was Mom and I. And to me things were good. Although I knew the parent/ child roles had changed, she tried. She would always go to the store and get me cute little gifts while I was at school. Then when I got home we would hang out play games, go for a walk, I would do her makeup and hair. Typical girl time. Some days she would be lonely and would want me home with her so she would call my school and tell them I wasn’t feeling well. She would take me to visit her Mom, an incredibly eccentric woman, my grandmother was her own person. She loved to travel, and she loved owls. She adored my mom and seemed to despise me with the same passion. My mom was the baby in the family, and my grandma would always tell me I took her baby away. She would never allow elbows on the dinner table, and her cooking was just like my moms lol. So, I must admit I cook just like them as well, which isn’t saying much about our family cooking skills besides it was a production that should have been on Americas funniest home videos.
As time went by, I noticed my mom’s mentality wasn’t as advanced as mine. She always had different part-time jobs while I was growing up. She worked at daycares watching the kids; she babysat, worked as a housekeeper, and then she worked for a maid service for the longest time. I would take my homework with me and sit somewhere in the big houses while she would work. I’d focus on my homework until I finished and then I would help her clean. I remember I would always get in trouble for vacuuming wrong..really? But for her to get these jobs, I would have to fill out her job applications. Because her writing skills were a struggle for her and she would generally hand it to me and tell me to fill it out.
Until I was about ten, she was this person, the mom that cooked for me. Hugged me and loved me. I would look at her the way many kids looked at their parents with adoration and awe like they have superpowers. When you’re young, you never get the unfortunate reality of seeing your parents as actual human beings with problems and flaws. You see a warm hug and morning cuddles and lots of laughter.