My big brother Billy played Little League. My father was an assistant coach and he did try to make this a good experience for my brother. We used to have to go to the games and it was fun. I always wanted to get a snack at the snack bar and we really weren’t allowed to get anything.
We went to The Lake a lot in the summer. It was a local water reservoir and people around town would bring their kids there to swim. Over the years, the water got too dirty and we had to stop going. Those were some of my best memories from childhood. The parking area had gravel on it and we’d usually be barefoot as we tried to go as fast as possible to the water. Well, those rocks were really uncomfortable to the toes of little kids. It seemed like it took forever to get past the gravel to finally get on the soft grass.
Somewhere around this time I started being a cheerleader for Pop Warner. I made captain on my first try-out. I honestly cannot remember either of my parents ever coming to a game to watch me do my cheers. My Mom had always worked the overnight shift the night before, and my father was always passed out on the couch.
I honestly cannot tell the chronology of a lot of the events I’m recalling during this time. I can just remember certain things that stand out.
When I think of the hurtful things my mother did to me, the first thing I can think of is when she cut my hair short one summer when I did not want short hair. She was very angry when she was cutting my hair-that’s what I remember. I felt as though I was being raped. She took total control over me and forced me to sit there while she chopped off my hair. There was no earthly reason to do this. I was a very clean girl. I took baths without being asked. I kept myself very clean. She was just angry. I cried and cried.
I also remember once in a while she would make me sit at the table and eat something that she knew I really disliked. Again, there was no good reason for this. I was a good eater and I would eat almost anything she gave me, except for a few things. And one time she made me sit at the table until I ate a tuna sandwich–and I did not like tuna. I cried and cried. I honestly don’t know why she did this.
I remember when she would cook us dinner during the week, often, she did not put a lot of effort into it. She’d make a box of macaroni and cheese, and that’s it. I remember one night she cut up cucumbers for us to eat along with our supper and I was very surprised. I asked her why she did that, and she said that it was just something for dinner. But usually, she didn’t do those things. I do remember her making sauce and meatloaf and ravioli. I remember boiled dinners. I remember there were times we’d all sit at the kitchen table for dinner. I sat at the other end of the table furthest away from my father.
The house was always a disaster. Laundry was hung out in the back on a clothes hanger and I remember her asking me to take it in sometimes. I don’t remember her asking my brothers to do this. In fact, all I remember is her asking my brothers to do dishes sometimes. But she had me doing that and more. It wasn’t all that much, but some of the tasks were hard–like peeling potatoes. Just thinking about these times right now, I’m also having thoughts of wanting to cut my arms. In the winter, my mother hung the clothes on some rope that hung in the basement. We didn’t get a clothes dryer for a long long time. Most of the time when we’d get ready for school, I’d have to jump up to the ropes hanging in the basement to grab a pair of underwear or a shirt or something. Always, on the weekends, my father would cook himself a steak with potatoes and vegetables. My Mom was sleeping to get prepared to work an overnight shift. No one cooked for us kids on these days/nights. I remember wanting some of the steak and potatoes. Of course, he never offered. And after he finished, he’d leave his dirty plate on the TV tray for the rest of the weekend until my mother finally got to it on Monday. The house was always filthy. Dishes weren’t done. Nothing was picked up. There was never ever any “deep cleaning”.
One thing I remember my mom doing is going upstairs to take a bath after giving us dinner. I know now that this was her way of trying to be romantic with my father because when he got home, he’d always go into the bathroom while she was in the tub. I think it was an image my mother was trying to portray—her little kids have eaten and are quietly watching TV while she’s laying “beautifully and invitingly” in a tub waiting for her husband to see her naked. It honestly makes me furious.
A memory that just popped into my head is the time that I took a razor blade and cut into the wood of my mother’s dresser. I clearly remember doing it. I was angry.