Let me try and get to the point.
I guess if it were possible to view all of my own childhood memories in such a way it would be far easier for me to sort out the wheat from the chaff so to speak. I might sort the little clear ‘memory balls’ and discard all of the less desirable one’s for instance.
I had a difficult childhood, my mother suffered with mental illness and was often emotionally unstable and aggressive towards me.
Of - course there were good days, inbetween the outbursts mum tried very hard, she wasn’t evil, she was ill. I accept that she was unwell and while I am still uncomfortable in her presence I do forgive her.
I struggle to remember cuddles, kisses and ‘I love you’s’ from my mum, they are there somewhere in my subconscious, but they are buried under all of the things that caused me to fear her.
When I look back to my childhood I remember - the sting of a dirty blue ‘flip flop’ as it slapped with full force against the top of my leg - the smell of her tobacco tainted spit as she screamed obscenities at me, her face so close to mine that our noses almost touched - the taste of ‘Palmolive soap’ which she used on more than one occasion to wash my ‘dirty’ mouth out - the perfect imprint of her hand red and raised on my skin - the disorientation and pain that comes after being slapped full force by adult hand around the side of the head!
I remember cowering at the bottom of the stairs in the hallway with my face pressed painfully against the little table that housed the old fashioned telephone anticipating the next blow, which I knew by the rage still spitting from my mothers lips was on it‘s way!
I remember the day that I took a biscuit without asking and she almost broke my little finger. I remember my own fear and pain, and also her fear and panic as it dawned on her that she may have gone too far.
Now let me fast forward to my own children and a day that I will never forget.
My second son ‘Charlie’ is two years old and though I don’t know it yet he has ADHD, he will not be formerly diagnosed until he is eight years old, ‘Danny’ my first son is almost four and my first daughter ‘squeak’ is still a babe in arms.
We have just returned home from a trip to the park, I usher the boys into the house and wheel the babies pram into the living room, in the time it takes me to do this and promise the screaming ‘squeak’ that a boob is on it’s way, all hell has broken loose in the kitchen!
Let me try and paint the scene - ’Squeak’ is screaming so hard that she may well explode at any minute, in response to her wailing half a gallon of breast milk is forming a river to my belly button, ’Danny’ is pulling at my trouser leg whilst whinging “I’m hungry” and ’Charlie’ Oh God, where’s ’Charlie’!
At the sound of breaking glass I run with ’Danny’ still clinging and ’Squeak’ who is now in my arms, still screaming in the direction of the kitchen, where I find ’Charlie’ stood at the open fridge door with an egg in his hand.
Now ’Charlie’ has a plan for the egg, Oh yes, the glint in his eyes, the smile that is spread across his chubby little mug, and of - course the three or four gloopy yellow blobs that are already floating in a pool of milk and glass at his feet, leaves me in no doubt!
I Yell “Don’t move you‘ll cut yourself” to ’Charlie’- disentangle ‘Danny’ and shove him in the general direction of the television, and reunite the alien that is ‘Squeak’ with her pram.
Back in the kitchen, I carefully lift ‘devil child’ out of glassy danger and stand him still clutching the egg over by the back door.
I’m calm as I lay tea towels and cloths over the river of gloop and glass which is fast making it’s way underneath the fridge, I’m calm as I carefully begin to pick up the million pieces of milk bottle glass and place then one by one into a dustpan, and I’m calm as I explain to ‘Charlie’ that he is a very naughty boy!
THEN.. ‘Charlie’ begins to laugh causing me to look away from gloopy floor and over towards the back door....and there, sunny side up at his feet, is the last straw!
Something inside me snaps, before either he or I can do anything about it I am upon him, I grab him, and screaming into his face just as my mother used to do to me I thrust him back towards the back door....I have no words for the rage that is coursing through my body!
And then (almost loud enough to be audible) a voice inside my head screams 'STOP' and before his back touches the door, before any harm has been done, my senses are alerted to the fact that the bottom half of the door is made of glass, and that the cheeky glint in my child's eyes has been replaced by shock and fear!
Mid thrust I pull my beautiful, cheeky, exasperating son back towards me and into my arms, and I hold him there amidst the chaos until we both stop sobbing.
I carry him into the living room and sit him in front of the T.V next to his still hungry brother, stick a dummy in ‘Squeaks’ mouth with another promise that milk is on the way.... and phone ‘social Services’….
A social worker was with me within twenty minutes that day and did not as I feared threaten to take my children from me. Instead, she encouraged me and assured me that mothers who are likely to hurt their children do not call social services and ask for their children to be taken to a safe place.
I was offered a lot of support after the events of that day and accepted it all gratefully, I decided on a no smacking rule, and since that day have never raised a hand to my kids.
Very quickly, because I realize I have rambled a bit today, I would like to touch on something that happened yesterday, the inspiration for this blog
I screamed - I mean, I really screamed! My youngest daughter who has physical and mental disabilities had been mind blowingly difficult (not her fault) we were late for Church, I hadn’t slept, my head was pounding, and ‘Littlie’ who was by now strapped into her wheelchair began screaming - AGAIN!
With no warning at all I began to scream, the piercing sound that came out of my mouth shocked both me and her, and reduced ‘The Bodyguard’ (who has more than enough to deal with) to tears!
I was and still am mortified that I would behave in such a way in front of my child and feel so ashamed that I lost control, but it's what happened afterward that brings me back to the beginning of this post and my ramblings about ’memory balls’.
I am desperate that despite my mental illness my children’s good memories will outweigh their bad and that they will NOT be damaged by their mother as I was by mine!
So hopefully.. the things that ’Littlie’ will hold in yesterdays ’memory ball’ will NOT be ’mummy sat on the dinning room floor screaming like a mad woman, but will instead be replaced with.. making paper angels with mummy - arranging little houses on the snow scene under the tree with mummy and snuggles on the settee with mummy while watching a Christmas movie. I do hope so.
Good, better, best, I’ll never let it rest until my good is better and my better is my best.
LORD, Thank you for the little voice in my head that told me to ‘STOP’ that day in 1989’ and for all the days since that I have managed (despite mental illness) to build happy memories for my children.
Please forgive me any moments in their lives where my illness has had a negative affect on their day. Amen
Thank you for allowing me to share
GOD bless you and all those you love