“Tell me a story, Mom… a Story about…”
“Children are not only innocent and curious, but also optimistic and joyful, and essentially happy. They are, in short, everything adults wish they could be.”~Carolyn Haywood
About some time in June of this year my oldest son sent me a text with a very specific request. Not that receiving at text from him was unusual, nor was getting a request from him. But this one was different.
Many times I’ve heard his voice repeat this phrase as he was young, “Tell me a story, Mom. A story about…” and it would be whatever it was about. His Grandmother actually was far superior at the impromptu bedtime story on the go. Myself, I loved to share literature with my children. Turns out, both are memorable ways to share stories, spend quality time together and to say goodnight.
See, this request wasn’t really any material item. My son asked, as he had numerous times before, for a story as a young boy. As a grown man, well, this was a first. He asked for this to be told to him so that he may someday share it with his own children. It was his 23rd birthday, and this was what he wanted.
“Mom, tell me a story about you. Like, I know a lot about you, obviously. You know, the highlights of your life. But I realized that you were a whole other person before I was even born and I don’t know a lot about that. So, I want you to tell me your life’s story. Something that’ll take time to read through so I can kinda get to know who my mom was and how she became who she is now.”
Obviously, I turned into that blubbering middle aged woman who is, not only happy to oblige, but also extremely humbled. I am often reminded as my children have grown, that even though I really did get the shit end of the stick with the family I was born into, I never would’ve imagined that the majority of the rest of my life would be so abundantly joyful and wonderful because I have not only the pleasure of knowing the three most amazing humans ever, but I had the privilege of being their mother. We parents saying that we raised our children; sure. I did the motherly duties, all that hoop-lah required to keep small humans safe, healthy and loved. But honestly, I was a kid when I had kids. I grew up along with them. They raised me as in that all that I ever found beauty, genuine love and sacrifice, deep meaning and substance to my life was because of what they taught me. Really before them, had little of any future at all. Typing this now, I still choke back the emotion of just having pure gratitude and obvious fortune that they are in my life.
“Obviously, Mom,” he continues, “I don’t need you to be 100% accurate, (he means don’t ramble on or tell stupid jokes) with dates or anything, I’m not your teacher.”
Oh, but weren’t you?
“A Mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting success.”~Author Unknown
“Just record as much as you can remember in as much detail as you feel like expressing. I’m actually really looking forward to it. :)” Yes, he put that smile emoji there. So cute, right?
“And Mom? You got a long time!” I did. It was June. His birthday is in December, “so don’t procrastinate like you always do.”
My son’s birthday was on the 3rd of December. Today is the 11th. Fashionably late, I say. He nailed it when he knew that six months would fly by and even though I had started the day of his request, I’ve since rewrote and procrastinated a lot. But a promise is a promise. A story. For you, my son. Late, as predicted.
“You can write it however you like, handwritten would be cute,” he says. Right, kiddo. It’s 2020. Not many of us can remember the last time penmanship was an art. I’m old. I type fast and talk a lot. Change the font if you like.
“This is important to me, ya know? Cause you’re my mom, man. My parent, and for the most part, that’s how I’ve known you in my life,” he says. I liked the part where he calls me a mom and then a man. Had to add it in. And Boy, I know you’re better at math than that. I’ve been your parent you’re whole life, not just most of it.
“You’re MOM, not April. I want to know April, too. As a kid, a teen, an adult… I would like to know how you became the person you are and all the places you went, and the people you met and decisions you made because I love you and, I guess in turn, that might show me all the reasons your raised me in the ways you chose to. I’d like to pass that onto my children and grandchildren, ect.”
Too many emotions happening at once when he sent that text. I don’t think any human has ever wanted to know that much about me. A feeling of humility and pride at once.
Those are the texts from my son that day. Almost verbatim. I did take the liberty of correcting much of his grammar because I hate it when people type ‘u’ for “you.” You have a full keyboard. Type it out. Keep language alive. I’m just giving him shit. I don’t really give a fuck. And yes, I’m aware that someday my great-grandchildren will know that this old bitty says a lot of bad words. That sounds like a problem for my son, though. I’ll probably be dead.
Chapter 2, Let’s Give Him Some Answer’s
“Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.”~Lady Bird Thompson
So, my dear sweet first born child, I hate to say it, but I’m pretty how I’ve always been. Who was April before she was a loving mother? Well, I was a sixteen year old girl. Do you remember being sixteen, son? Friends, dating, having fun, having energy, thinking you had all the answers in the world? Yeah, I was just like that. It was 1995. Right before the digital revolution. I wouldn’t even learn of the inter-webs for another four years.
The Doors, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Pearl Jam and a bunch of other new grudge rock was my favorite at the time, mostly. I lived in Bend, Oregon and attended Bend Sr. High School. Well, ‘attending’ isn’t exactly much of what I actually did. I actually arrived at school, left to go to Juniper Park and smoke weed all day with my friends and my boyfriend. My actual first love, or puppy love, whatever it’s call… Robert. Truth be told, I still talk to Robert almost daily on Facebook. He lives in Montana, is married, has two grown daughters. I’m happy for him. No I’m not. Yes, I really am…. not. Lol.
Anyways, moving forward, I only lasted in High School there for a few months. Dropped out my Sophomore year and took my GED test a week later with the birthday money my grandma had sent me to pay for it. Passed with flying colors and gtfo of school. School “isn’t a place for smart people.” ~Rick Sanchez. You don’t know who that is because you don’t watch Rick and Morty. Son, you really need to ask yourself what you’re doing with your life.
I had just met your sperm donor. I make a point to call him that just incase my blog ever becomes famous and he reads it. Make sure he knows how little he mattered and contributed to to awesomeness that is you. You, son, did most of it on your own. Just born that way cause your mom was born that way. He was merely a pawn in our life story.
But, prior to being sixteen and meeting the dick that donated, (was that too crude? Maybe scratch that out for the toddler grandbabies) I have even existed fifteen additional years prior to that. As you stated, Buddy, you’re aware of the highlights. And, sorry readers, but the first version of this story my son has read. It was a little dark, a lot more angry, and kind of a downer. I was honest, and early childhood wasn’t exactly great for me. Son, you now know some things that you didn’t before, and I don’t feel the need to repeat it here for the world and my family to read. No decent lessons for your children to gain from a life of poverty, homelessness, chaos, fear, confusion and well, basically the part where my family put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction.
It’s evident now, but we didn’t know much back then, about mental health and the effects that it has on the family unit, especially living in poverty, weren’t highly educated and had a blended family and raised by parents who were idealistic but not very realistic.
My Dad, Gerald Lee Graves, had moved out from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Cruz, California in 1975. He was leaving his wife and he brought my oldest sister, Adrionna with him. She was only 11 years old at the time. Our sister Yolanda was left with her mom. My Mom, Judith Ann Rougge was living in Santa Cruz at that time and she was married with two children of her own. My third sister, Alisa and my older brother, Anthony. Her husband was a mechanic and owned a shop. my dad was also a mechanic and got hired by my Mom’s husband. And that’s the romantic story of how my parents met.
Within the next three years my mother had left her husband, moved in with my father and my sister, became pregnant with me and I was born in Santa Cruz, California on April 1st, 1979. Nearly five years later fifth and last sibling, Justin was born in Carson City Nevada.
Chapter 3 April In the Hooooouussse! Well, I’m Born
“If life cannot save us from death; let love, at least, save us from life.”~Pablo Neruda
So, here I am, born and just hanging out here on planet earth and shit, right? Don’t recall much of the first few years, it was probably pretty boring. I know we moved around a lot. California, Colorado, Nevada, California again, Idaho, Oregon, California again, Oregon again, California again, Oregon again, Idaho again… shit, I’m losing track. Plus many cities within these states. Son, this you know much of. So what don’t you know?
I lived mostly in Northern California as a young child. We lived in a century old house, it was 1984. The house on a two acre lot on the corner of Main Street and Kristy Lane, a block from the elementary school I went to, and also directly across the street from where Paula and her family lived. We moved to Janesville (that’s correct, it’s not Jamesville as in James but Janesville as in Jane[actually was just 9 part methamphetamines’ to one part human there, but I was a kid, I didn’t know wtf]) California in 1986. It’s the longest consecutive time I stayed in one school. I was there from second grade to seventh grade. At the very back end of that lot we had a huge wooden barn with a fenced in gated area in the front of the barn. The first few years my parents had goats in the fenced in area. I loved the goats, especially the male and female that had the baby goat. Baby goats are the damn cutest thing. We had two white turkeys named Tom and Jerry. And we had kept a dozed or so chickens in the coupe on the west side of the barn for many years. Once we had a rabbit, but it belonged to my brother. We had King, our dog, as you know of, and we had many cats throughout the years. I can still remember mine and Paula’s phone number’s to this day. Not joking. Mine was (916) 253-3687 and hers was (916) 253-2250. I called her house every single day for over five years to see if she could come over and play.
And I didn’t know it then, but there are some serious advantages to growing up super poor. We were incredibly creative with coming up with games, rules, imaginary worlds with character played by us that followed a sometimes very detailed storyline. I am not joking when I tell you that things of nature such as dirt (tiny race car roads and mud pies) rocks (hop scotch, pathways, tossing games like bean bags) and pine needles (forts) where actually some of the toys we played with. Paula and I loved Barbie, Justin liked Hot Wheels and He-Man. What I’m tryna get at is that it made us creative, ayite? Looking on the brighter side of things in life lesson going on right here, Son. Don’t need no lip. Don’t you judge me until you’ve eaten a mud pie made of actual mud and enjoyed it.
We watched stupid shows like Alf, Full House and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but had the honor to see the birth of The Simpsons and they were as much my family as my real one was.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s the schools didn’t lock up the school yards when there wasn’t any school and us kids could go down there and use the play sets, which was awesome because we’d never have one of our own. One time this kid named Charlie wanted to beat up Justin and I actually don’t remember why, but he came at him with a brass chain. See, I was brutal to my little brother. He suffered much throughout his childhood because of me. I feel kinda bad for it now, sure. But I was a kid, too. What my parents took out on me, I suppose I took out on him. Doesn’t make it right, it’s not an excuse. It’s just what happened. Plus, it’s not my fault my brother was born such a little bitch, lol. Anyway, I digress. So this Chuck-fuck comes after my brother, right? Well, I’m not having it. I don’t know why, I didn’t even think about it but I just stuck my arm out right in front of that chain looping around in the air right before it was about to hit my brother, it twirled around my arm instead and I yanked my arm back toward my body and Charlie yanked to me with it. I can’t recall exactly I said to him because I was just so mad. You ever been so anger that that’s literally the only thing you can feel is raw anger and heat and you see red. Nothing in registering to you because all you know is if one muscle moves there’s a very strong possibility you will eat the nose off their stupid, face, annoying, loud fucking face? NO? Just me, then, huh? Well, at least one of us is honest then. Digress, again, damnit. So, I’m sure I threatened his boy parts in the form of some colorful swear words or something because that did never did fuck with my brother ever again. If anyone is going the beat the shit out of my brother or talk shit to him, you you best recognize it’ll be me. Not really sure why that story is one that stands out to me, but it does.
On one of the rare Christmases that my family actually got a tree, I was pretty happy, but I didn’t actually get too excited, or I guess I should say I didn’t want to feel hopeful that Santa might come, but I just figured he wouldn’t (that seemed to be his pattern), and I was still pretty young, probably only eight years old, but there was a present under the tree when I woke up! I was so happy! It was rectangular and heavy! I called Paula so excited to tell her because she always felt sad for me that I didn’t get presents. I should’ve opened it first. Well it was a Webster’s Dictionary. I may have told you this story. And no, that’s not the worst present, but it was my only present. And I had called Paula. Paula had gotten a new BMX. She rode it to our house to see what I got. I didn’t want to show her. God I was embarrassed… fml.
Keep in mind we had no electronics, video games, cell phones and we were poor, underprivileged children and plus Nintendo wouldn’t come to our attention until about 1986. Now, I didn’t have it as badly as Paula’s family did. We had clean water from our well. And even though Justin and I had to share a bedroom and we only had one bathroom in the house with a bath only, we didn’t really feel like we were going without anything. Before we had lived there, we lived in a tiny apartment, and before that a hotel. Plus, 90% of the time we were outside. Our parents had to threaten us to come inside.
So my dad went to the community college in the nearby town there called Susanville. He attended for two years and earned an associates in Gunsmithing. Yeah, even in the late 80’s that was a thing. That was a thing, I know, who knew, right? Directly behind our house were two small dwellings. One was a really cute red shed like building. it had a covered red porch and a pitched roof. When you stepped inside it was only a single room, but it was perfect for my dad’s shop. The other dwelling was just a tiny dark wooden shed. It was our well house. My mom planted dragon snaps out along the side of it and every spring they would bloom and I loved seeing them every year.
So, my dad started a gunsmith shop and specialized in basically the stock part; he did the wood work, basically. He took a block of wood and turned it into something the barrel of the gun would house in, and he did it beautifully. I was told that he entered some sort of county contest, I would guess probably something like a county fair, and he won first place. He was very skilled and passionate about his work. All us kids really wished that we had something of his after he had passed. There’s nothing left, though. It’s sad. If you wanted my opinion on why my father wasn’t as successful as he so easily could’ve been (and I’m just gonna go ahead and give you my opinion. My story. My blog. I do want I want.) is because my father didn’t exactly have what you would call people skills. In fact, some may even go as far as to say he was an asshole. Opinionated, stubborn and didn’t like to be told shit about fuck. But hell, I just described everyone I’m related to.
My mom stayed home with us kids when we were young. She got us up in the morning for school, made us breakfast, packed up our backpacks, walked us to school. While at school she’d clean our room, make our beds, washed our clothes, folded them and put them away for us. By the time we got home from school, just about every day, we could find mom on the couch taking her nap and covered by an afghan my great-grandmother had crocheted for her and a Stephen King novel resting on her stomach or nearby.
Justin and I would get a snack, I’d call Paula, see if she could come over till we had dinner. Mom would get up and make us dinner. She wasn’t the best cook, trust me. But it was edible. And often my mom would ask Paula if she wanted to stay for dinner. Paula was the youngest of four kids, all older brothers. She always wanted more food. Often Paula would have to come to our house to take a bath, too, because their well would run dry or it would pour this murky brown/black water out of the faucets. In the winter our pipes would freeze and mom would just go out and put snow in a big gallon pot and melt it on top of an old enclosed wood fire place to melt it so we’d have water.
No, Son, no. No, I don’t want to hear any shit about how easy I had it, how I didn’t have chores or responsibilities. No, you’re right, I didn’t take out the garbage or feed the dogs or ever have to clean up after dinner. I didn’t have a cell phone, my own TV, my own room, an Xbox or the Internet either. Check this though, I didn’t even clean a bathroom for the first time until I worked for your Grandma on your dad’s side at her housekeeping business. I shit you not. My mom did everything for us kids. Was it nice? Duh. Of course it was. I got to watch way more Nickelodeon and didn’t have to do my homework until right before I went to bed and you know what? My mom helped me with that, too!
But my mom also never, ever, ever… ever let me put a foot off my property without her or my dad unless I was in school. I didn’t have my first sleep over until I was in sixth grade. Every time I was invited to a birthday party or a school activity or a friends house my mother made me ask Justin permission to go because he was always sad and missed me when I was gone, she said, and it wasn’t fair for me to be out having fun and Justin be at home miserable. I wasn’t allowed to take a bath/shower, wash my hair more often than ONCE a week, and I couldn’t shave my legs and armpits, or wear make up until I was in high school. My Freshman year of high school is about the time I remember, what I like to call the “Little Bitch,” phase started.
“Where were you, you little bitch?!”
“You listen to me, you little bitch!!”
Once she told me to apologize to my brother for eating the last brownie. I had zero brownies. He got home form school way before me, like an hour. He was pissed because he was on his way out to the kitchen to grab the kitchen to grab that little chocolate morsel of goodness only to find the sister he loathed so badly swallowing the last bite of the last brownie. Dream. Crashed. Mission. Failed.
“MOOOOOOOOM!!!!!” Mom runs to Princess Justin.
“She ate all the brownies!” as a dramatic alligator tear rolls down his cheek right on que. Mom says, “What is wrong with you? You’re making the brownies next time and you apologize to your brother right now. Don’t you ever think of anyone but yourself you selfish little bitch?!?!?!” Oh, yeah, selfish was another thing she liked to call me.
At fifteen years of different scenarios of this exact narrative, I just ’bout had it. I could explain what actually happened, but it never changed anything before, so that wasn’t really worth the effort. I could’ve apologized even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, as I had done many times before, and again, she’d still dislike me just the same. Nope. That’s the day the straw arrived. That famous one that the camel hates, but probably because it broke the camel’s back.
I said, “Fuck you.” I know only too well that sudden whoosh sound that arrives in the room right before my mother’s hand is going to connect itself to my face, later on in my childhood I think I preferred it when I didn’t know what was coming my way *SSSSLLLAPP* A stinging, burning, sensation, it started to enclose in darkness but some floating, sinking stars showed up, slowly falling like snow from above and the darkness faded. I have never repeated those words to my mother ever again. Not to this day. But we’re still very much in the “Little Bitch” Phase.
I don’t like getting too dark here. And I am stopping. But I’m also going to say this; compared to some of the other things she’s done, I didn’t tattle. She didn’t get much more physically abusive than this, but her words and her actions cut my soul to the point that I was sure it had bled to death and died off sometime in my adolescence. Turns out she didn’t do that to me. It would take another decade yet for me to discover that I still had something left to cut that deep and bleed that much.
It takes pain, severe emotional and mental pain to know the depth of your character, sometimes. I thought that depth of humanity of me was gone, killed off long ago… Then, when your sister died that night, when I was twenty-two years old, and I realized I had depth and capacity enough… my love and dedication still went deeper still, farther than I ever thought I could love someone…
That moment is the same moment you realize the cut will be just as deep. Thousands of times larger that it was before and thus you will bleed that much and you will die that much more. Thing is once I realized my soul wasn’t dead it had actually just dies. Metaphorically speaking, obviously. You were only a small boy when we lost your sister, four years old. In front of you for a long, long time your mother was the walking dead. I’m am so sorry for that. You and your sister and your brother deserved more, and I know you definitely needed more. Know that when I say I gave you everything I had, it’s true, it was just so very little.
“All my life my hear has sought after a thing I cannot name.”~Andre Breton
Well, not only did that go way off topic and entirely off the rails, I have done fucked up my time line even worse. Meh, fuck it.
Back to the task at hand, here are some things you may or may not have known about your mother;
I never learned how to swim.
I’ve always loved unicorns and the color purple. My obsession with butterflies didn’t come about until after your sister died and Joker didn’t become my idol until my late teens.
From the time I was seven years old till about the time I was probably 10 years old I literally believed that I was a vampire.
When I was 11 years old a tree in my back yard got struck by lightening and it scared the shit out me. I had PTSD for years.
I held a boys hand for the first time in fifth grade at a school and I was so embarrassed I broke up with him. Turns out, it was Paula’s cousin.
When I was fourteen Batman II with Michael Keaton and Michelle Phifer came out on VHS and when I saw it I so wanted to be Cat Woman with all my heart when I grew up.
I used to shoplift expensive clothes when I was in high school with Paula because both of our families were so dirt poor and we were tired of being made fun of. She was caught once. I never was caught. I got mad skillzzzzzz, bruh. Don’t steal, though, I don’t condone taking what’s not yours, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.
I have always hated country music. And mark my works, I always fucking will.
Once, when I was sixteen, Paula and I were walking on the sidewalk in Bend in front of the South McDonald’s as a car was trying to pull out onto third street. I didn’t want to wait for it to go by so I hurried in front of it. Being the asshole that I can be, I decided to look back and smirk at the dude resulting in me tripping on the sidewalk and slide-skipping about three times across the pavement on my elbow and knees three times peeling off all skin. Dude honked and waved as he drove away. Paula was laughing so hard she was crying. Karma can be instant.
After I left high school my sophomore year in 1995, my mom was recovering from breast cancer and my parents had just divorced. My brother was only eleven and still in school. My mom was working as a waitress at Pilot Butte Burgers and we needed more money. That’s when I started working at the North McDonald’s on Third Street in Bend. It was my first job. I made $5.00 an hour. I worked the drive thru window and I was damn good at it. Then again, that’s no surprise as I’m damn good at most anything that I do. When I left McDonald’s almost a year later I was making a whole $0.15 more. Impressive, amirite?
I had met your dad during this time. I was hanging out with a girlfriend I had gone to school with, Gina Thompson. She dropped out of school, too. Her older brother, Jeremy was having a party. Tom and his friend who you also know, Joel, were there. We had planned to do what kids in the 90’s always did. We were gonna get our drink on. Strawberry Boone’s Farm, Son. That’s right, we got tore up. Listened to some tight grudge band like Sugar Ray, then probably some Green Day, most likely Metallica cause Gina really liked them, we danced, we laid out in the sun because it was summer. Then sometime that evening I did what most drunk teenage girls do; yup, I puked up a bunch of pink, pink wine cooler. Then I sat on the kitchen floor and cried because I was just so worthless and nobody loved me. Gotta love you teenage girl drama.
in love.Nope. Drunk. Just drunk.”
So, as I’m balling my eyes out in my world of self pity, in swoops your dad to save the day. He tells me there’s no need to cry. He thinks I’m just the bee’s knee’s and gives me his number on a piece of paper (it was 1995, we didn’t have cell phones yet, we were still behaving as Luddites) and says I should call him sometime. I actually didn’t call him for a while. The real reason I was upset was because Robert had just moved away and I hadn’t heard from him at all. I missed him horribly and I was trying to get over him moving away still even though it had been about six months ago by that time. But without going to school, working all the time, and having not much of a social life I eventually called your dad and we started to hang out. It’s awful because I’m really sad to say I can’t even remember what we did on our first date, or when it was. I know that at the time, however, it did mean something to me, though.
Chapter 4 The Ending of My Childhood; the Beginning of Your Life
“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”~Robert Browning
I’m going to fast forward through this here really quickly, because a lot of hurt and bullshit went on, here. My fault, your dads fault, my family’s fault; it doesn’t matter who did what to whom when the hurt has been caused it can’t be undone. All I know is that in the end when ‘everything came out in the wash’ there was you and there was me, but during this time in my life everyone acted as if it were their lives that were changing or starting… or ending. Things were confusing and I was just a kid, really, looking back. Although, no one could’ve ever told me I didn’t know what the fuck I wanted or what I was doing. Actually, they still can’t. Lol.
After my dad left my mom, your dad moved in to help out. Although, he didn’t really. He was more of a mooch. And through the years, he hasn’t really changed much either. At your age you’ve already worked for more, cared for more and stood up for more than that man ever did. He will never know the meaning of having to stand up to the plate and take care of you and yours. But way back twenty-five years ago, as a kid, I didn’t help the matter. He could do no wrong in my eyes. He did work at times, but not often. He mostly lived off my mom and I working. Smoked weed and picked on my brother. Eventually he got jealous of the guys who I had worked with at McDonald’s, so I quit my job.
My mom had had enough. Looking back I don’t blame her. But seriously, why the fuck would she let a 23 year old, unemployed man move in with her 16 year old daughter to begin with? Anyway, She ended up trying to rectify the situation by moving my brother and I to Sonora, California and starting over.
So we did. And being the teenage girl that I was, I was just hear broken. We moved on my birthday. I turned seventeen that day. I had two beta fish. A red one and a purple one. I named them Bevis and Butthead. I had them for a long time. During the drive down to California my mom made me leave them in the moving van, I was upset because I knew that they’re tropical fish and they can’t get too cold. We were staying the night in Weed, California and it was pouring rain. The next morning my fish were dead. She did feel badly though. I never did get another beta fish, however.
Sonora was really beautiful. It’s actually really close to Modesto. But in my child’s mind I was the character in a book who’s evil mother had taken her from her one true love, the only person who had ever truly loved her. Being a teenage girl is a lot like experiencing insanity. Not even joking. I was obsessed with getting back to Oregon. Obsessed. I wrote your dad daily. About six months later your dad bought me a plane ticket and I flew back to Oregon to live with him in Sisters.
Chapter 5 ~ Oregon to Pregnancy to Idaho
“In three words I can sum up everything that I’ve learned about life:
It goes on.”~Robert Frost
So, Sisters is a pretty place to live. When we first moved there we were renting a room from from an older lady in a little gathering of places called The Pines. Your dad had a job as a laborer for construction and I bused tables at a restaurant and worked for his mom cleaning vacation homes out at Black Butte.
He drank a lot. I didn’t. He got violent when he drank. I didn’t. I ended up breaking up with him and moving to Burns with Paula and her mom. Lived there through the winter and worked out at the McDonald’s. I had my own place too. A tiny one bedroom house, only $200 a month. I partied every weekend, made absolutely zero plans for my future and just had fun with my friends.
But your dad… he had a way. He got to me. We got back together. Paula was so mad at me when I left Burns to move back to Sisters with him. Him and I got a tiny apartment above an ice-cream shop. Things were better at first. He bought me a ring. He was working but I had a hard time finding a job. Not long afterwards I got pregnant. I was so excited. So, so excited. I just recently read the letter that I wrote my dad way back when I found out that I was going to have you and I had just gotten out of the hospital because I almost lost you. First, I was shocked that my dad saved that letter. It was in the things he gave me before he died. Secondly, I just couldn’t believe how naïve I had been. Not with the excitement of the pregnancy, but with how blind I was as to how hard all of this was going to be and how much your dad didn’t really love me.
Your dad continued to drink. He continued to be violent. This wasn’t a home for a child. Interesting how I didn’t think that way about myself. That before the pregnancy, it wasn’t a home for me. A child. But then, it was because of you children that I have ever found value in myself. So, I made the correct choice for the both of us. You and I moved to Fruitland, Idaho with my parents who had gotten back together. I didn’t think I’d ever go back to them, but honestly, this is the only thing they did right by me and I’m eternally grateful for their help.
It was a nice enough older house close to downtown. I craved milk all the time and I hate milk. The first time, and the only time, that my brother who was 14 years old at the time, felt you move with his hand on my stomach it scared the living shit out of him. He jumped way declaring that it was the most disgusting thing he ever felt in his life. Some alien shit, he said. Lol.
Justin tried to teach me how to play the guitar. I practiced for days and hours on the song Blister in the Sun by The Violent Femmes and I just couldn’t get it. I have zero natural ability or talent and even when trying to learn I lack the ability to even to that. Justin gave up. He told me I should to. So I did. Lol.
So, you eventually were born. Thirty-six hours of labor. Long, and painful. Back then they gave strong powerful painkillers for women in labor. I puked and as I puked I peed on the floor. I only felt a little bad. Grandma was my birthing coach and she was wonderful. And she fell in love with you instantly. You were 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 19 inches long. You are the first person who awarded me the title of mother and I knew then how special and meaningful that was, but looking back now, it’s been an honor and a blessing. The most rewarding and joyous thing I’ve ever done with my life.
I could write a novel about the firsts I had learning becoming a mom, and another novel, again, for each of your siblings. I could write more about how lost I feel being an empty nester. How I actually don’t know who I am. I like to say that I’m still living, therefore I’m still becoming who I am. And you’ll find in your life that as time goes by and as you age, you change. Not the core of who you are, or your personality, but your wisdom, your values, and where you find your happiness. I am not a human being, I am a human becoming. Maybe hit me up in another 20 years so we can find out exactly what it is I become. A felon, I bet. Lol.
“Love is like a butterfly; it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.”~author unknown
See, you wanted to know who I was before you. These stories, experiences and exciting people I met before you that were supposedly what influenced me into the person who was your mother and had whatever morals and standards and convictions… or didn’t have, that I chose to instill into you children. That’s not what happened, Son. I was a sixteen year old kid. Remember when you were sixteen? What worldly wisdom and knowledge did you acquire at that time that you would have to give to enrich the life of a child? Probably some life experiences. Maybe a heartbreak. Some hurtful home life stories. You’d recall the good books you read and your favorite characters, how their actions inspired you and touched your heart. You’d recall all the things that you may have needed but never had received from your original family and you would vow to do every Goddamned thing in your power to give that child everything you didn’t have, everything you did have and then a hundred times more even if it took all the air from your lungs and the last drop of blood from your body.
What inspired me to raise you children the best way that I could and to the best of the capabilities that I had was the only thing of real beauty, and raw innocence that I had loved with a true confidence that this love was not a trick or a lie and that this love would never go away until the day my body expired. My inspiration was you. My inspiration was your sister. My inspiration was your brother. And it still is.
There wasn’t much of my life, son without you in it. I was only a kid. You guys made me the person that I am. You guys raised me.
Make a one-time donation, seriously, though. This shitty blog isn’t going to pay for their college. Think of the children…. but of only my children.
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“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”~Pablo Neruda
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