Thursday, March 12, 2009

End of Childhood

It's no secret that I've had a difficult childhood. I've skirted around the issue before, touched on it briefly, but I'm not sure that I've ever mentioned any of the gritty details. That's not to say that I'm trying to avoid the subject or that I've banned the subject from this blog, it's just that for the most part I like to focus on positive aspects of my upbringing instead of the negative (in order to move past these issues. Even though I don't speak of them, the things I went through eat away at me, really).

It's something that's been on my mind for awhile. I've been thinking a lot about childhood memories. Not my own, I'm trying to focus on making special memories for my children. Part of this reason is because so many of my own childhood memories are things that I'd rather not remember. I have so many negative memories that it's beginning to erase the good ones that I have. When I think of my children all grown up thinking back on how I raised them, I'd like for there to be so many strong memories of a loving and supportive family that had fun together. They enjoyed spending time together, laughing, appreciating what we have.

But today is one of those days where I feel like looking back. Tomorrow will be another day, but today, I will relive one of my strongest memories of childhood. One that changed my life and I really do believe ended my childhood. It isn't my worst memory of my childhood, not by a mile, but it's one that makes me mostly feel sad. It was really the beginning of bad things to come.

I was maybe 11. Things had been difficult in our house for awhile. My mom had already moved out. She was now living with Greg, my dad's former best friend and fishing buddy with whom she'd had an affair with. This was before the divorce proceedings took place, but not by much. It was springtime. I was glad that the arguing between my parents had stopped, but everything felt a bit weird, off-balance.

It was spring time and my dad had cleared space in our garden to have raised flower beds. We were going to plant our own vegetables in them. My mom came over for the morning to help. I hadn't seen her in two weeks. My parents, my brother and I spent all morning planting cauliflower seeds, broccoli, carrots. We hadn't done anything as a family like that in ages. I remember thinking that if it wasn't all of us together, I'd have complained or gone inside. But I didn't. I stayed and I had a great time. We all did. We laughed and joked with one another. We sprayed each other with the water hose. I remember around the garden with my brother. It was beautiful weather for gardening.

My mom didn't stay. After the vegetables were planted, she went inside to wash up and then she left. It didn't matter. Those few hours she spent with us were enough. I was happy. During lunch, the three of us left sat in front of the television and watched A League Of Their Own. I don't remember if it was on the television or if we'd rented it and were watching it from a video. I suppose it doesn't matter.

I'd seen the movie before. It was one of my favourites. Even then, I really enjoyed watching sports movies. I remember my dad had a thing for Geena Davis. Whenever I watched it, I thought about how nice it would be if I'd had a sister. I can no longer watch A League of Their Own. I was sitting there, happy, eating my food, watching the film, when it happened.

I'm hazy on the details. I think I've tried to partially block it out, but a swarm of police officers descended on our house. It definately wasn't one cop, or even two. But they came and they were prepared for some sort of altercation that never happened. My dad is a big man, he has a temper, a loud voice, he could easily and truthfully be called a 'crazy vet' but he was soft-spoken and gentle when he opened the door. He didn't protest or offer any sort of resistance. The way the police officers were dressed seemed ridiculous at the time. They could easily have left our house and patrolled a violent protest and they would have been fully prepared already. My dad wanted to send my brother and I out of the room so we wouldn't have to witness what happened, but we didn't move. It was horrible.

My mother had called the police and accused my dad of raping her. A woman officer spoke to my separately, and all I remember is this huge feeling of confusion, betrayal. The officer heard my story of what had happened and it matched with the story that my brother told a different officer, and the one that my dad told to yet another. The main point being that my mom and dad were never alone together, not once. The officers trooped out of there soon after, my dad wasn't charged with anything.

What hurts the most is that my mother took my beautiful family gardening morning and turned it into something awful. Something cruel and nasty. I will never be able to understand her motivations for this. I felt so betrayed after the police had left. Betrayed by my mother. Because it didn't just stop at accusing my dad of a crime he didn't commit. She dragged me through the mess too. Whatever attempt I was making at avoiding the conflict between my mother and father was for nothing. I feel like I lost my innocence in that afternoon.

It was just the beginning. I was pulled into the divorce proceedings. There were other allegations that went through the police station. There were restraining orders taken out. The gardening day though, that was the beginning.

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  1. Hugs to you, and all credit for endeavouring to create more nourishing and innocent memories for your own children. They are so lucky to have a mum like you, despite the deficient and hurtful parenting you experienced.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing.It must have been really tough for you as a child.

    I'm pleased that most days you are able to be positive, and I'm sure that your own little boys benefit from having such a thoughtful, caring Mum.

    Best wishes,


  3. Micelle, what a sad story and you're very brave for sharing it. What matters now is you have somehow garnered the strength to make things different for your children - a credit to the human spirit. Your children will grow up with the memories you help create and they sound like they'll be good ones. Fx

  4. Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry and so sad that you had to go through that. At least you've moved on, and are making sure your kids will have a happier childhood.

  5. I'm so sorry that happened to you. The fact that you have looked at those memories and trying to make the right ones with your children shows your bravery. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I'm sorry you had such a painful childhood. Kudos to you for making your own children's childhood different.

    Thanks for posting on Read Aloud Thursday again! I wanted to tell you that I highlighted a Jez Alborough book last week or the week before. I thought you might want to check it out since your ds likes his books so much.

    Have a great day!

  7. Oh my! How horrible. I am so sorry this happened to you. I do not understand why parents put their kids through crap like that!.

  8. It sounds like your mother was trying to get custody of you and your brother. It's awful when parents hurt each other and involve their kids. Your resolve to be a better parent than your mother shows strength and acceptance. Thankfully, kids are really resilient, as you yourself have proved.

  9. Learning our parents are imperfect is heartbreaking. Especially when their imperfections lead to hurting those we love. Embrace the fact that despite your circumstances, you managed to turn into a beautiful person and are now able to share that beauty with your children.

  10. Lots of big hugs and kisses coming your way. I really feel for you. I am shocked that any mother would lie like that. I hope one day you can find it in your heart to forgive her, do you still talk to your mum?
    I can see why you value the love that your father gives you so much. You have been through so much, you appreciate what you have.

  11. Sometimes there is no avoiding being drug into the struggles of others, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. You have my sympathies.

  12. wow michelle, how sad, horrible and unexpected. Life is just too cruel. ou know these experiences make you who you are today adn I am sure your children will have nothing but happy meories of you and their dad x

  13. Congratulations on coming out the other side a stronger person. I believe it has helped mold the person you are today, especially where mothering is concerned. Kudos!

  14. wow michelle, what a story. for an 11-year-old to have to endure things like this is beyond upsetting. it's unimagineable. i'm so sorry you had to go through it. i agree with your other readers that it's made you a strong and wonderful woman and mother and i admire you for coming through it all a better person. xo


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