I read this book nearly 20 years ago, and it was hilarious of course. But with all due respect to Ellen Degeneres for stealing her book cover, this will probably not be a hilarious post.
It's just some stuff I need to say somewhere, and this seemed like the appropriate place. I mean, it is my space, isn't it? Where else could I get away half the shit I say? This might be the only post where I close the comments; I really can't remember.
It's not that I don't value your feedback. Of course I do. It's that I'm emotionally a sensitive, fragile little flower, and sometimes I can't hear (or read, as the case may be) anything negative without taking it all the way to the inner recesses of my heart. If you have something positive to say, then by all means, let me hear it. But negativity here is not needed. Please.
I do remember doing this, clearly and distinctly, with my mom. I don't have a huge ton of memories of my mother, as a kid should, because she died when I was 7½ years old. I don't really remember doing this more than once, but this one memory is huge in my head:
It's about 1980 or '81, so I'm maybe four or five years old, and we're living in Monroe, New York. It's late, like, way past my sister's and my bedtime late, and my dad is not home - probably working. Mom is lying on her back on the floor, and the three of us girls are just laughing away at ourselves. Mom has the giant, square pillow my grandmother probably latch-hooked for our house under her head. She takes turns, flying one of us, then the other, as long as it lasts until her legs can hold on no longer, and she lands us safely on the big, puffy pillow, giggling all the way.
That's it. That's the whole memory. Pretty simple, and yet so wonderful.
Another memory from about the same time, around Thanksgiving or Christmas 1980:
My mom's younger brother, Uncle Chris, came up to visit from Florida. He brought this new thing with him, something we hadn't heard of before then: an Atari game console for my mom. He also gave her Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, several other things, and her beloved Frogger. She played whenever she had a spare ten seconds to rub together!
It seemed like Mom was playing Frogger whenever she got the chance. She loved that game! I never did manage to advance to the higher levels like she did, but man, could she leap through some snakes and crocodiles in no time flat! Me? Splat!
Mom was a pretty amazing mother. My dad has told me time and time again, "She was what made parenting fun for me. It was all her doing."
All Dad had wanted was a boy. He had been an only child, himself, born fairly late in his parents' lives, and he wanted a son of his own. I was supposed to be Clayton, but then I came out and was another girl - his third daughter. Dad tried to name me Eleanor after his own mother, but he left the room, and Mom wrote "Melanie" down on the birth certificate papers all lickety-split. I guess I got Ann as a middle name for lack of something better, but I still wish she had chosen Penelope. It's so much more fun to say!
Sure, I remember Popeye. I also remember moving away from all my friends and my grandparents in nearby Leonia, New Jersey, and moving what seemed like forever away up to the Syracuse area.
One year later, on April 9, 1984, my mother died from acute complications of diabetes and Christian Science. Dad didn't know what to do with two little girls. He started dating entirely too quickly (really, WTF, Dad?!) and just like that, on July 13, 1985, he was married to ... her.
His explanation, "I wanted a mother for you two girls, and she seemed like a good one," has failed to appease me ever since.
There was all kinds of abuse going on in that household after that. Every kind. All the kinds.
I don't really don't want to talk about that too much right now, so I will spare you there. Suffice it to say, my sister took the brunt of the physical abuse from my dad, and she eventually got emancipated at 16 because he beat the crap out of her. Meanwhile, because my stepmother hated my dad, and I was his "precious favorite," she took all of her mental/emotional/physical anguish out on me.
And believe me, there was a lot of it. She utterly destroyed me.
There are those out there who knew what was going on in that house but kept silent. I'm sure they have their reasons. I don't have any ill will toward them. And then I had a homeroom teacher who saw me come in crying one morning, and when I talked to my amazing friend Shana about what happened, the teacher saw some injuries that had happened.
Well, you know what they say about that, right?
Shit rolls downhill.
Needless to say, the outcome wasn't pleasant. It was never pleasant.
Fast-forward a few years to my college years at UM.
I had finally escaped! I made it! Only... I did not make it out unscathed. I no longer had to try to commit suicide all the time - as I had been in Baldwinsville, at least monthly if not weekly - just to get out of that terrible situation. But, as I learned in the Child Psych classes I took for the babies I hoped to have one day, along with some research I have done on my own, the damage was pretty well done by the time I finished high school at 17. I learned that abuse of one kind often manifests itself in other ways in the next generation of victims, which scared the bejeezus out of me, having experienced all the kinds.
I went to therapy as a graduate student at the University of South Florida, but my therapist was still a student herself and, therefore, ill-equipped to handle me. So, I stopped going.
I was taking a break from USF when I met Rob, and we eloped right away. Chloë was born less than a year later. That first year, home alone with my baby girl while Hubs was at work in the Navy, was heaven. I mean, she was a sickly little baby and projectile-vomited a dozen times every day, so that was tough, but for the most part, I was madly in love with my life! That was what it was all about for me.
Then we had the twins, and Robby died, which messed me up all over again. I started going to therapy to get through my grief almost immediately after that. The total-fucked-uppedness of my brain was masked by my intense bereavement, so it wasn't until another therapist and another psychiatrist got me in their chairs three years later - after Sophia had already been born, too - that my Bipolar Disorder was finally diagnosed.
That was a blessing in disguise, because I was finally able to get on the med cocktail I needed to help my head straighten out a bit. Unfortunately, stability is a myth with this disease, so the meds all-too-often need some tweaking, but now we all recognize when that need happens. I swear the whole of Facebook knows when I'm getting manic before I do, because I stay up all night baking everything in sight!
And now, I am finally getting to my point.
There are those who think I'm ridiculous (at best) or horrible (at worst) for all the things I do, as myself, as a wife, as a mom. But my world revolves around these people, these little humans I have been given, and I do my damnedest every day to give them the best that I can.
Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fall. Sometimes, I lose my shit and have to go slam out the door and drive to Walmart - of all places, if you know me - to walk around and look at stuff I don't want to buy for an hour!
But the point is, I leave before my mental shit comes out in some other form, and when I come back, I apologize for the huge bitch I was. Maybe I never got that Ph.D. I wanted, or that Nobel Prize I envisioned when I was a silly teenager, or a bunch of research journals with my name published in them, but that's okay. Rob and the kids know that they are wanted, and loved, and that I would lay down my life for them. That I will never stop, no matter what. That "home" means love and laughter, not crying and fear. The kids are all right.