It surprises me that I can think of so few memories of my childhood (pre-divorce) with my parents. I have a great memory. I can recall in vivid detail some memories of my life. I can recall with great clarity staring at the yellow school buses in the dark, mangled by rain in my vision as Mom told me my Dad was moving out. I remember my(now) husband sitting on the steps of his house, in my rearview mirror, as I drove away when he would be moving the next day. I can remember, vividly, my desire to be an OB. And I remember vividly my realization that it meant I also must be a GYN (and what the hell a GYN actually did). I remember outings and vacations, but the pop into my memory in images of the photo albums that I have. I don't have the actual memory, just the image I've memorized from the album. Sure looks like we had fun.
But I don't remember a lot of things with my NM. I remember she cleaned alot. And mowed the lawn. And had a lot of things to get done. I always liked it when she spent the afternoon cleaning and cooking a nice meal and offered us warm chocolate chip cookies. It was such a treat and I remember feeling so cared for. I remember her being brisk, and cold, and distant. I remember her putting me in charge a lot.
I remember that she picked out my clothes a lot. That I didn't have a lot of choice about personal style. She decided that for me. In fact, sis and I were often part of a coordinated set. I don't remember her taking any real interest in me. I don't remember her asking me how my day at school was. I don't remember her ever taken my part with a teacher, or going to school to defend me, or even being really interested at all. As long as I excelled, behaved well, caused no problems, it was all good. She didn't bring me flowers to my school players. She often expressed that it was difficult to get time off of work. I remember one time fighting over a part in the school play with my teacher. The teacher had been nagged by another parent to split the part-there were four performances-because she felt her daughter should've gotten the part (you know, give another kid a chance to be the lead). I remember arguing with my teacher that this wasn't fair. Not because it wasn't fair to yank the part from me after I'd had it for weeks, but because my mom didn't know what show she could attend and I wanted her to see me perform. And I was 11.
I remember that mom always ticked the boxes of being a good mom (again, credit to Kara "The North Wind). Buy nice school clothes, tick. Enroll in dance lessons, tick. Attend parent teacher confrences, tick. But she never seemed interested. I don't remember a lot of love, or affection, or consideration for me. I wondered for a long time if this behavior from her started only as I reached adulthood. But I can see so many mini-signs as I grew up. We went on vacations, we rode bikes together, we went shopping (mainly I watched her shop). But we didn't have a relationship. We didn't have a connection, at all. She didn't really know me then, and she sure as hell doesn't know me now. And in fact, I don't think it would've even accord to her to think about me as an individual. I was just a kid, what did I know.
I do remember that she favored my sister. Always. She let her get away with murder and she expected me to do the same. She made me her "littler helper." I was her assistant, and that made me feel important. But I often felt more like a pet than a human being. I remember her braiding my hair into tight braids because that was what was easiest for her. I remember her picking out every outfit I had for a special occasion, with out me. I remember always feeling that I needed to be with my family. I always felt, even at 8,9, 10 that going out with friends, was somehow a betrayal. I remember she never helped me with my homework or inquired about what I needed. All so distant.
I remember one time in the summer (Sis and I spent summers pretty much locked in our house. We weren't allowed to go outside because it scared NM who was at work.) I babysat, cleaned, did chores, and sat around. I had started to start suppers for her before she came home. She would call on the phone and give me the instructions on what to do. Brown the hamburger. Boil noodles. Pretty soon I became adept and could cook whole meals. I noticed that her kitchen was a bit disorganized and disheveled. Not horrible so. So, I thought, in my little innocent mind, that I would clean an organize her cupboards. I didn't rearrange things terrible. I didn't overhaul the whole thing. But I wiped the drawers and the cupboards. Lined up the spices. Put like things with like and moved a few things to where they would be easier to access. NM flew into a rage. Not at me directly. She screamed at my Dad about what a horrible person I was. How dare I arrange HER kitchen? I had screwed up all of HER things. Where did I get off thinking I needed to do that? Yup, that was mom. No good deed went unpunished.