By today’s standards- my upbringing was relatively common or at least not uncommon….
One parent ‘supervision’ household type thing.
Shifting from one place to the other…weekdays with parent A weekends with parent B…y’know- the great hand-off project.
Making it work-somehow.
Doesn’t sound so unusual right?
But when I was a kid…it was.
Most of my friends had two parents in the same house at the same time. Most of my friends were living the Brady Bunch lifestyle (sans the dead parents and replacements) They had nice calm homes with schedules and balanced meals….regular bedtimes…all that shit and I was so envious of them. I wanted the normal mom and dad nagging me about homework and cleaning up my room on a Saturday morning before going out with friends thing. I wanted the nighttime hugs and kisses. I wanted the security of knowing when I woke up there’d be someone there.
That didn’t always happen. My mom- who was fun as a friend was not a great mom. She was more like a cool older sister who knew all the latest songs on the radio, took me to concerts that ended late…on school nights. Dated a local DJ who gave me and my siblings promotional stuff from the radio station he jockeyed at. I still have my clear red vinyl copy of David Cassidy’s ‘Cherish’ LP. I remember the looks of jealousy from my pre teeny friends -when the day after I got it- I carried it to school. They ALL wanted one too.
I wanted a normal mom. Not like the one I had- who one day wasn’t there when I came home from school. Dinnertime she still wasn’t home and I made my two younger sisters and myself jelly sandwiches for supper. Admittedly I wasn’t much of a cook at the tender age of 9. Afterward- I bathed the 2-year-old as best as I could and helped the other- who was 5 at the time with the name writing practice. We brushed our teeth and went to bed. The next morning…still no mom and the next and then 2 more days. Again… I was 9 so my missing person skills were also sorely lacking. I did my best to be resourceful but on the 4th night- I called my dad.
‘Mommy didn’t come home.’
“Mommy didn’t come home. We’ve been waiting since Monday’ (I guess it was a Monday but it could have been any other day for that matter).
He came over and stayed- sleeping on the couch in the living room of a house that he was still paying a mortgage on but didn’t feel ‘allowed’ to sleep on the bed he’d once shared with my mom.
2 or 3 days later my mother phones the house upbeat- excited- ‘Guess where I am?!!!”
My dad- usually not the most composed- asked ‘Where Miri? Where are you?’.
‘I’m in Vegas!!!!’
Apparently- she had decided that it was of the utmost importance to traipse across the country chasing after her idol -Tom Jones.
Important. The most important. Even more than….no…I won’t say- even if – at the time -it felt like the truest thing.
SO- she was in Las Vegas.
Dad: What about the kids?
Mom: *cricket sounds*
Or if she did say anything in response it wasn’t revealed to me.
My father stayed in the house where he’d once lived until my mother’s return. She was gone for a total of 11 days. When she got back- the door of the room where they stood was slammed shut and there were muffled angry words. Later that evening he hugged us all and left. He resumed his routinely scheduled weekend pick-ups the following Saturday and every other for as long as we wanted to spend our weekends with him. Of course as we became older we opted for weekends with friends and he was left to grownup devices of hangin’ with his own friendgroup -he understood that’s what happens when kids turn into teens. Still we always convened for Sunday night dinner to catch up on the week’s events and talk about what we had coming up… and all that had happened on my mother’s little solo vacay almost seemed like it never really happened. It wasn’t argued about. It wasn’t discussed. It was never brought up again. Not by my dad- mom or any of us kids- not for many years anyway.
We when we finally did open dialogues about that very special/unusual time it was with a lot of head shaking and vague laughter…because so many years later what else COULD we do?
That childhood I longed for never happened and in its place was a very expansive life lesson. One that was self-taught. I learned how to do everything on my own…and.. in spite of myself I grew up to be a good- decent and yes flawed adult – I’d say the lesson was a success nonetheless.
Over the course of the years as a parent my own sweetpea has heard these stories of me being my own best mom -but thankfully she has never had a moment where she knew exactly how that was for me. I’m grateful to have been able to raise her with a maternal ability I didn’t think myself capable of.
And when recently my kid and I talked again about this whole unpleasant semi-as-a-child mess I unexpectedly got the best backhanded compliment.
‘Y’know mom you’re a truly great mother…..especially considering you didn’t hav—…’…
…she stopped short
I said- ‘….especially considering….yep’ .
End of the story? After contemplating the events as they occurred I realized that yes I didn’t get what I wanted but I did I get what I need.
And that….is good.
light and love to all.
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