In reflecting on our ‘Far From Normal’ upbringing, it seems little bits and pieces come into our shared memories. One of the many puzzling pieces came to my mind this morning. My sister and I never asked permission from our mother for most things. If we wanted to go outside and play, away we went. Stopping by the library or bookmobile? Of course we did. Our daily adventures not only did not include Mother but we did not seek her permission for most of our waking hours.
This is more than peculiar. When you actually think about it, it seems downright strange. The funny thing is Mother never inquired as to our whereabouts either. Something about “not interested” or a “couldn’t care less” attitude would just about sum it up.
Since we lived in a relatively safe neighborhood and everybody knew us, it wasn’t really life-threatening. My sister and I were able to find our way home when necessary and you could set the clock by us as to when our Dad returned home. We never missed greeting him. Mother would come out of her liquor coma just in time to prepare something she called “supper”. We would choke the slop down and spend the rest of the evening with Dad discussing our day and enjoying the time with an attentive parent.
Being left on our own taught us how to be independent and, of course, my sister and I had each other so we made sure we went to school. As we look back at Mother’s lack of parenting, it might make you wonder what exactly she was thinking. But then you remember that she was seeking her own adventures and children were not part of that equation.
By the time Mother headed west, my sister was in college and I was going to be a senior in high school. Living with my dad was interesting and he told me quite clearly that I only answered to him. Since Dad instilled independence in both my sister and me, in a loving, kind way, he also trusted me to do the right thing.
Once again, I learned how important it was not to let him down and so I tried to be a good daughter. I like to think he was as proud of me as I was of him. My sister and I turned out just fine and in no small part that is due to having Dad.