Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Over at Conversation they are having a thread on the book, "The Secret Life Of Bees". It struck me that some folks actually had such good childhoods they could not/cannot comprehend the disastrous situations that may occur in others. It is hard for them to conceive of children being traumatized to the points they are by people who "love" them. Or that life in general hand some folks a lot more odd/dangerous/unrealistic events than "normal" kids. I think this is a good thing in a way. Seeing the world as a place where "too much" is over the top and could never have happened.

For me, it was often the opposite. The "too much" was my reality and I could not comprehend, even into my adulthood, that things could be "as good" as they were sometimes portrayed. Life was a never ending drama filled with running from and into adult troubles, terror, and living like people in the newspapers and t.v. As an adult I find it amusing that I can relate to almost any situation via a personal childhood experience!

I had a mother that "loved" me. For me, from my viewpoint, which may or may not be correct, I felt that love was different than the love my siblings shared with dear ol' mom. I can hear you saying, "Well, DUH! Every kid feels like the picked on one." It's Tommy Smothers all over again, "Ma always did love you best." But I really felt the difference.

There are too many reference points I could illustrate, but after I had grown up and looked it all over, I could see that each of my siblings felt the same real lack of love, just in different areas of their own. We have a "different" kind of mom. Love is there, but it isn't the love we feel for our own children and for our spouses; and that has made things very clear for us as adults. It's the kind of love that has to be there out of some sort of responsibility or to keep "losing face" at bay. The kind of love that is there to promote one's self sacrificing when really, the sacrificing wasn't there- or could have been diminished by being a "normal" definition of "mom". She worked hard, no one doubted that, but the whole mom gig wasn't her cup of tea; and we all felt it and carried the burden we gave her with us - even to this day. (mom=sacrifice kid=burden, pick a category and label yourself. we were an ungrateful, greedy, collective burden to mom's selfless and never-ending sacrifice.)

The following is an illustration at how I began to grow out of childhood thinking and into what was reality or the "norm".
When I was 2 months pregnant with #3 my appendix burst. If you have ever had this experience you know the kind of pain and how it progresses. It began for me as a "really bad intestinal flu" and progressed to the stage where I literally could not un-coil myself from a fetal position. I was sane enough, but MAN! it was pretty intense.

At the point of not being able to function enough to care for the two older, yet toddler-esque children I did not panic, but went through my options for assistance. #1 Thor. He was at work, far from home and would be home later that night tired, but could take over if I was not better. So I thought, "better try for someone else who can just take the kids for a few hours." This led me to review friends first. This was prior to cell phones and after finding no one home I resorted to the sisters in law who lived in my community. 2 of them were also not home, but the third was. Let me tell you it was very difficult for me to call this woman and ask for a favor, but by this time I was concerned for my children and needed help whether or not it was via this sister in law. It wasn't that she and I didn't get along, it was just this gal doesn't open the door to her own mother who may have traveled a while to see her. (but that's a different dysfunctional family!) I made the call and, to her credit, she came over.

One look at my ability to mask pain, she pronounced her diagnosis: not the flu, but losing the baby! I knew, deep inside, that I was not losing the baby, but forgetting all the Marcus Welby MD episodes I had seen, I dis-associated the "lower right side+intense pain" equaling appendicitis and clung to "flu" instead. That, and there is no possible way one can be pregnant and have appendicitis, right? So I just wanted her to take the kids until Thor got home. She would not have it and we headed to the hospital that was one hour away.

I called my mom. I told her my sis-in-law thought I was losing the baby and was headed to the hospital. She replied with questions and a follow up of "let me know how it goes." Which in reality did not shock me, nor hurt my feelings. I did not expect any other reaction and the phone call was just to inform her of the daily happenings.

After waking up from surgery I was faced with strong wrath from my father-in-law. His anger and absolute rage sprang from not being called, from not being allowed to care for me. I almost couldn't wrap my mind around why he was so angry at not being called. My end of it was reason. "If I called my own mother and she didn't seem interested, why the heck would you?" Even I knew that a mom (supposedly) was the one person you could count on, that one person who loved you above all others. And if she didn't care, no one else would or should! I couldn't understand that my father-in-law was scared to death for my safety, my child's safety, and had been insulted by not being allowed to help, pray, or even just take care of the grandkids. I couldn't understand how he could worry that much about me. I could get that he actually loved me, it was weird. Really weird. All that fuss because he loved me.

Childhood ideas taught me that I didn't matter. Grown up events began to change things, although there are still bugs in the system that was wired so long ago.

Now, the first call for help is to those I can trust to help me. I go where I can count on love. Dear mother is frustrated when she sees that I actually get along with other folks, it hurts her feelings and I feel guilty over it. But eventually one learns about real love. About real sacrifice. About real burden.

And eventually one learns that not everyone had the funkiness that I had. Some had the ideal. Some had good. And some grew up a lot faster than even I did.

add to sk*rt

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