My mother was a quiet and timid woman when my father was around. I'm not sure if her quietness was fueled by submissiveness or fear, but I was always in awe of how in control she was.
It didn't matter how horrible the words were that were being spewed at her, she never fought back. Maybe she knew nothing good would come from adding fuel to the fire - we all had witnessed his rants leading to him waving his gun and threatening to shoot. I didn't understand until I was in my mid twenties that his words and gun were his way of controlling each of us. He was a powerless and weak man that never loved himself or freed himself from his guilt and shame. Controlling was all he had, and maybe my mother allowed him to have that. She had more strength than any woman that I have met thus far. I'm not saying her choices were always good, but she had a lot of shit come her way, and not once did I see her crumble. Never did I hear her cry poor me, or ask for anything. She was built tough, and never lost faith.
I became an observer at a very young age, watching my father and mothers mannerism, actions, and responses. I suppose it was a way of protecting myself since I didn't feel safe or comfortable growing up. I never knew what I was going to get the next day - it could be smooth with very little words exchanged, or it could be war; so I was always watching and listening even when it looked like I wasn't. At times I would be under beds, in closets, and behind closed doors listening. I remember I was hiding behind a door when I heard my father and mother discussing that my baby brother was dead. I had just played with him the day before, and now he's dead. I didn't even understand what that meant. I remember being hoisted up by my father while being told to lean over the coffin and instructed to kiss him goodbye. There was no sadness or tears displayed, no conversation of why or how he had died...it was just taking a moment to look at him one last time and placing him in a grave. There was no value of life. I guess I shouldn't assume they didn't value life - they just weren't emotional beings, it's possible they cried themselves to sleep at night.
My mother always made sure that I was well groomed while my father provided me with plenty of material items - none of it ever settled well in my heart. I'm thankful that I had stuff, and that my appearance was important to the two of them, but all I wanted was to be loved by the people that carried the titles of mom and dad. I now know that people can only love you the best that they know how, and that's what they did. I can't blame them for not loving me the way that I felt I deserved to be loved. We all have our own love language. As a child you don't get it, but I now recognize what theirs was, and I have comfort in knowing that there was love. I only wish that I knew back then what I know today because I would of taught them about the importance of forgiveness and self-love. I don't think either one of them forgave or loved themselves - that breaks my heart.
I Can't Wait To Turn 6
My parents didn't send me to kindergarten so I was eager and excited to begin first grade. The school was in the neighborhood - I would idolize the kids running and playing on the playground as I passed them on my ride to work with my father. I couldn't wait to turn 6, but it was at age six that I was introduced to the lesson of expectations and disappointments. Never expect and you won't be disappointed is how I describe that lesson as an adult, but as a child it was more like, I hate everyone and never want anything from anyone. Here's how it played out. I couldn't wait to celebrate my 6th birthday as I sat admiring my white sheet cake with a border of beautiful red roses. I wanted so badly to cut into it, but my mother instructed me that I had to wait for my father to come home. I waited staring out the window for him to arrive until all I could see was darkness. I don't recall if he came home that night, or if I ate cake, but there was never another cake growing up in that house, and I grew up preferring to never celebrate the day of my birth. It was the beginning of my list of issues, and acknowledging that it's not all about me. Who knows what happened that day. My father was the sole provider with several businesses - that was always his priority so he could provide for us; as it should be. It was just another day, and honestly, if I had just eaten the cake I wouldn't of been disappointed in him not being there. Lesson learned - Always eat the cake!
That wasn't the only disappointment I got at age 6 - my father decided that we needed to move so I could go to a school with no Blacks or Mexicans. I felt like I wanted to die. Just so you understand how ridiculous that statement was from my father, he was Black and Native American, my mother was European, Mexican and Native American, and I was the little interracial child being sent to an all white school in the 60's. I spent endless hours writing hate notes and complaining in diaries about moving and going to a new school. Really it was pictures and scribble because I hadn't been to school yet to learn how to write, but regardless I was mad at them and God. But, being mad didn't change my situation. I still moved into an all white neighborhood, and started first grade at Helen Keeling Elementary School as the token.
It all worked out fine. The teachers were very careful on how they spoke to me, and most of the kids didn't seem to mind that I had darker skin. As for me, it was all about escaping from my toxic chaotic world. I looked forward and was excited to go to school each day and be a part of something different - it was good and positive. I saw people smile and laugh - I was able to escape into calmness five days a week and forget my world for a few hours. I was thankful for that.
Peace, love & hugs