Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On Step Mothers

I met my first step-mother when I was six. My first vision of my brother, only a year old, was from the kitchen entry way, walking towards me with his thumb crammed through a hole in his cheesecloth blanket, sucking his thumb, a vision frozen in time.

I called her Lorrie for a short time, until my father made me call her mom. I didn't have a real problem with it, I just thought it was a title that should only belong to my real mother. Lorrie was the prototype of her mantle, bitter, jealous, and angry at a little boy whose innocence she would steal, all because his father wasn't her first. The most galling is the hypocrisy. She knew me before I knew her, a tenant of the same apartment complex where my father and mother split. Perhaps mom left dad for the affair, I don't know. I suppose I could ask dad, but how does it really matter?

Lorrie once told me, after having received yet but another bad progress report on my behavior at school, that it had been a tremendous effort on her part to love me, but she finally managed it. But did she? I think so, in her own way, but those demons come out under stress. Like the time I didn't clean the dog droppings in the basement. She asked me calmly why I hadn't cleaned it yet, and I looked at her speechless, saying, "I don't knowwwwwwww." But I did know what was coming, or at least I thought I did.

Never in my life have I taken such a shot. She was a lean woman, with surprisingly large biceps that popped like volcanoes. Her anger was quick and physical. Almost daily my pants were at my ankles as she welted me with a plastic spoon or leather belt. Today was special. She flew at me and I was forced to stare her down, for fear of provoking her further. She caught me with a balled fist in the sweet spot of my belly, the solar plexus, and my air left me and was excrutiatingly difficult to recover. The details are fuzzy now, but I took a beating and was sent to her room. I crawled into bed and sobbed for some time, wondering what I had done that was so bad. She called me out later and apologized, and even let me sit in her lap, an honor reserved for her real son.

It wasn't the only time she hit me, but it was never as bad as that. She never punched me again. I have a five year old son now, whom I have never struck. I can't understand, even though he can try my patience, how someone could be reduced to hitting such an innocent little creature. But he is my son isn't he, not someone else's. It makes no difference to me, but the distinction did to her.

The next one was Cynthia, but she wasn't nearly so mean or jealous, if she was jealous at all. Like her predecessor, she also insisted on being called mom, which I did so grudgingly. She was embarrassed that she had to explain it to her friends, and reasoned that if I didn't call her mom, she wouldn't call me her son.

She hit me I think only once. I was openly defiant and probably had it coming. She threatened to hit me with the belt and I said bring it on. Like a lioness she sprang at me and I didn't budge. Her belt whipped me across the face and I laughed, inciting her further to do the same over and over again, screaming obscenities. Then she ran to her room crying. I sat down and watched TV.

She lasted for a short time. Then along came Polly.

Eleven years younger than dad, and eleven years older than me. More like a big sister, the one you can't stand. She openly competed with me for everything, asserting her position and belittling mine. She mocked me for my weakness and relegated me to obscurity, all to elevate her fragile ego.

We lived in a trailer park in the beautiful Mendenhall Valley of Juneau, Alaska. I never even knew how miserable my existence was, so wonderfully surrounded as I was.

She and dad would fight every day, without fail. These fights were just short of real violence, sometimes crossing over. Once my bedroom door burst open and Polly was hurled into a heap by my bedside. A trail of snot meandered from her right nostril and curled over her upper lip. I told her not to go back out there, but she did.

I knew they wouldn't last long, the genius that I was. I should have known the day they were married. Polly's brother was the minister, a title he had earned from a mail order service, on his ranch in eastern Washington. He made her promise to do what she was told at all times, to much laughter, then asked dad if he would take Polly to be his lawfully wedded wife. Dad didn't reply at first, and actually thought about it, probably for the first time in his entire life. But he said, "I do," like it was forcibly ripped from his chest. That night they had a fight, and everybody was drunk and thought it was real funny.

Polly found my phone number and left a message around eight months ago. She doesn't know that I am married and have two kids. Guilt is a heartless beast, that doesn't reason what is right and wrong. Still, I deleted the message and didn't save her number.

If you ever read this Polly, in my own way, I still love you.


Anonymous said...

If this is true ... wow ... I had no idea. Very interesting life experiences, its no wonder you are who you are.

Mrs.T said...

I'm a step mom.. this made me very sad to read.

My son, I say MY because he is mine in every way but genetically, calls me 'mom'. We, being his dad and I, left it to him. His own biological monster really didn't and still doesn't have much to do with him. In some ways we needed each other. I also didn't know how to be a parent though. I made a LOT of mistakes. I also know I love him very much. I agreed to marry his dad, only AFTER he got domilicary rights away from the drug hazed bio monster who never physically kept him anyway.

I'm sorry none of them (the step moms) were able to learn how to love you the way you deserved to be loved.

Scott said...

Thanks for stopping by Mrs. T. I am glad to hear of your affection of your son; he is better off with someone that loves him than some drug addict. Loved the bio monster moniker!