One of the benefits to having a mother who was more interested in her next drink, meal, or pill to pop than she was in parenting was that Mother never kept an eye on my sister and me. As we grew older and realized the benefits of this it was extremely liberating. We could go about our business and wander around pretty much with impunity. Being under the influence meant freedom for us.
During the summer we ran the streets and were fortunate that no perverts or child molesters bothered us. It was a different time and thankfully for us we were watched over by the neighbors and no doubt a guardian angel or two.
Nobody bothered us and everyone just accepted that we were allowed to run wild. Now, lest you think we were completely out of control, I must set the record straight. My sister Abby was much more compliant than I was. She worried about breaking some unknown rule.
On the other hand, I could have cared less. If Mother’s wrath was brought down upon me, I knew I could handle it and it would be worth it because she would finally wind down and wear out and away I would go again with little or no thought to what she had said.
Once my sister left for college, I was on my own to do battle with mother. The odds were not in my favor. I always went to school and upon returning home, I might find Mother passed out or gone, never leaving a note. I did not care about her absence and just enjoyed the quiet which I knew would end the moment I heard her at the door. Depending on her mood I knew if it was time for my great escape or whether I could endure her company.
Since she was so unpredictable, I had to be aware and on guard for her mood swings. If she began to argue, I knew I was doomed. I would make a hasty retreat either to my room or out the door. If I was leaving I would yell over my shoulder that I was going to Dad’s and away I went.
The tone set by Mother was not only not conducive to studying but also very toxic. My favorite times were when she had flown the coop or was sleeping in her big green chair.
Once she decided that she needed more money and must get a job, it was absolute heaven for me! She worked at a “supper club” (aka a dive bar) and she worked nights. When I left for school she was sleeping and when I returned home, she was gone to work at the dive. I was sleeping soundly in bed by the time she returned. Since I had my own car, I was very independent, thanks to my dad.
Mother was beginning her transition to the single life without children but she forgot that once you are a mother, it is forever. Of course, she never followed any of the parenting rules so why would she begin to care at this stage of the game?
Having few barriers in life with Mother actually worked out well for us. We were grounded in a different sense and that was fortunate for us.
When my sister Abby and I became mothers, we parented with love, grace and quite a bit of humility. Sure, we made mistakes, but they were always mistakes that were not life threatening. No leashes for our children. We preferred to parent children, not animals. Thank goodness Mother never put us in a cage. Or did she?