This Halloween I dressed up as the Queen of Hearts. Costumes are my thing and it seemed fitting since my daughter was Madeline Hatter, the Ever After High version of the Mad Hatter’s Daughter. She actually was torn between me being Lizzy Hearts or Kitty Cheshire but it came down to costume availability in the end. Next year I think we may both be different versions of the Cheshire cat.
But this story has very little to do with my costume and a lot to do with my own mother. Let me begin by saying that I do love my mother, in that way we all love our mother. She gave birth to me, kept me alive and all that stuff. The rest of this post will sound very negative but it doesn’t mean that I hate her at all. I still love her, it is just that she has not been the best parent.
Lets start at the very very beginning as it has been told to me and repeated often enough I can never forget it. My mother and father were married 5 years before my birth. When my mother found out she was pregnant she stopped smoking and always said “I only stopped because of you” but in a tone that sounds as though I did her a horrible injustice. My only guess is that she really loved smoking a lot and is bitter about me stopping her. That being said, she never smoked again so I’m not sure what the problem is. Then I was born … or not born fast enough as the case happened to be. My mother opted for all the drugs because the labor I caused her was “intolerable” and I was inevitably knocked out cold by them and was born drugged and fast asleep. I caused her over 22 hours of painful labor and wasted a lot of fuel for my fathers countless trips to the hospital. Please note that I did this to her she says and not in a joking tone.
When I was first born my mother tried to breast feed me. I am 100% a supporter of breast feeding and did for my daughter. Due to some form of lactose intolerance I had been born with I ended up with projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea which almost killed me. By the time they decided I was sick and was taken to the hospital I was considered to be starving and severely malnourished. I don’t blame them for not knowing at the time since being a new parent is quite stressful. What is troublesome is how my mother has constantly reminded me of how much trouble I was as an infant for developing this intolerance and how much it cost them. “You cost us a fortune in special soy formula you know!” Combine this constant statement over the years with the fact that they lost everything to bankruptcy a year after my birth and you have a child who grew up feeling responsible for her parents financial difficulty.
For several years after the bankruptcy we moved around a lot, 5 houses before I was 4. This was in part due to finances and also in part to some shady businesses surrounding my father. Lets just say my mother is not the only person responsible for my messed up childhood. My mother likes to remind me how she had to work long hours to support me (again I am to blame). I was placed in several, not so nice, daycare homes through the years where I was exposed to some pretty fucked up shit. I saw a lot of children being shamed by adults (including their parents) and things that would now be considered physical and even sexual abuse. I learned very early on to stay in the shadows and keep my mouth shut. I often faked being sick in order to stay in bed or on the couches of the daycare homes because segregating myself was a form of personal protection. I felt badly for the other kids and often cried when no one was looking. My daydreaming was my escape because I needed nothing or no one to play inside my own mind.
As often as I faked being sick I was often actually sick most of the time. I had the chicken pox when I was 3 and was constantly sick with colds and flu for most of my childhood. Now I am just not sure how sick I really was or if it was just my mother being paranoid or gaining sympathy for having a sick child. Again I cost them “a fortune” in medication and time off work to take care of me. Usually they just sent me to daycare or school with my bottles of penicillin and instructions for the teacher. I had to go to the school office twice a day to take my medicine so often, I think it could have been assumed I had some kind of disease. Fun fact … My family doctor was also a friend of my parents and turns out a self prescribing drug user who was being beaten by her husband! Found that out when I was 12 and my dad brought her home all strung out. Anyway, as a result of the constant treatments I have developed a quick resistance to medication of almost every kind and sometimes wonder if parts of my adult illnesses are a result of the medications I was given as a child.
People considered me to be a pretty child but I never saw it myself. My parents liked to make me wear fancy dresses and my mother would take me to church to show me off like a little doll. Personally I wasn’t interested in wearing dresses. They would take me on “Sunday Drives” to go visit friends of theirs in various towns. I experience intense motion sickness in cars so that was never super fun for me and I would get in trouble for being sick in the car. Most of their friends either didn’t have kids or had kids way out of my age. I learned to play pretend in my head quietly, made friends with lots of people’s pets and learned the art of eaves dropping. I knew way more about my parents from sitting at the tops of stairs listening in than I really should have known at a young age. My mother would complain to others about me a lot and early on I wondered how much she actually wanted me around.
For a large part of my childhood I suffered from night terrors. This is a horrible sleep disorder that causes a lot of stress for children and their parents. People have no control over them and there is no treatment. I am reminded often of the sleepless nights I caused my parents from these terrors. Add to that the sleepless nights that they were up with me when I had colic as a baby and all the nights I was sick growing up. God the way she goes on about it you would think I kept her up every single night of her life. It is one thing to mention it if conversation leads to such topics but this is more of a constant reminder of how awful I made her life.
When I was 5 years old I asked for a sister in the hopes of having a friend and holy crap I got one! Turns out all it took was tossing a penny in a Chinese restaurant wishing pond. By the way, I hated Chinese food but that was where we ate all the time because my vote didn’t count. 2 months after my 6th birthday my sister was born but to my disappointment she was a baby. Babies are not fun for 6 years olds. I had dolls, barbies, race tracks and my treasured collection of dinky cars none of which she could play with me. She cried, pooped, slept and became the new object of my mothers affection. They had parties for her, dressed her up in fancy dresses, showed her off to people and I had to be careful and be quiet.
Within a month my mother was back in the hospital with hemorrhage due to retained placenta. My sister was left at home with myself, father, grandfather and cousin. Now the new baby wasn’t getting all the attention anymore and instead it was my mother. She told and continues to tell everyone who will listen about how she thought she almost died from having my sister. While looking at pictures she will point out how horrible she looked because she was so sick. In 2009 I had a miscarriage and a month later required surgery to remove retained tissue. It was my sister who took me for this surgery and with everything that went wrong my mother could only compare everything to her own issues and how mine paled in comparison … I didn’t want a comparison or to talk about what had happened.
So those general complaints about how hard I made their life and how expensive I was were repeated constantly … actually they still are. Eventually I had acquired a complex where I was just pretty sure that everything bad was at least partially my fault. I would sit alone in my room and replay all those times I let her down and try to figure out what I did wrong or how I could have avoided it, that is when I started obsessive reflection. It was my job to keep an eye on my sister and take care of her. If she did something wrong I also got the blame. Better yet when I had valid complaints about my sister I got the blame because “you asked for a sister so it is your fault”, are you kidding me!!! So ultimately everything my sister ever did to let my parents down is my fault because I wanted a sister. When she dropped an iron turtle in my eye and I ended up in the hospital … My Fault. Wow just wow! Even today if I say in passing that I’m worried about my sister it is met with that same statement. Really I have not learned to keep quiet.