Friday, January 28, 2011

I Think I Hate My Mother...Yes I'm Serious--Part One

Growing up I had a typical happy childhood. I owe that to two individuals: My father and my grandmother. Dad supported me emotionally and financially while my grandmother raised and loved me (hence my "old soul").

I grew up in a small rural southern town in Georgia with an estimated population of about 150,000. Like most good southern black girls, I attended church faithfully, went to school regularly, did everything I was told to do without question, and excelled most of the time under the guidance of my father and grandmother. They made me into the wholesome woman I am today.

There were two odd things about my childhood world: 1). I knew I was gay from a very early age and 2). I knew I hated (or perhaps it was dislike at this early point) my mother. Unlike my grandmother and my father, my mother is a living breathing example of someone who shouldn't have considered having children. Knowing what I know now I don't believe she considered it at all...we (my siblings and I) just happened, and because she either couldn't afford an abortion or didn't believe in it, she gave birth to us. 

My mother was young (still in high school), dumb (didn't bother to use any form of birth control) and suffering from neglect by her own mother (I now see it as a cycle). My father, who is six years older than my mother entered the picture when my mother already had a son, my oldest brother, who is two years older than me. The two of them hit it off and my mother would have two kids by the time she graduated from high school (followed by my little brother two years later).

My father once told me he wasn't in love with my mother when he married her, but instead he had no desire to see another man over his kids, which makes perfectly good sense now that I think about it. When I was a child I can remember various men coming to our house and sleeping in the bed with my mother. My dad, who had an on again/off again,relationship with my mother (and who I didn't even know was my father for a long time as no one even bothered to make the connection for me), would bribe me with candy in exchange for this information. The end result would be some type of domestic dispute that would later be dismissed by a judge in court. 

My early years with my mother weren't bad. In fact they are the only time I can say she was happy and a pleasure to be around. She did things for us that regular mothers do like cook, clean, bath us, take pictures with us, and take us shopping for toys and clothes.  She met with our teachers and volunteered at school if needed. I can still remember her attending field trips with my class and volunteering to help out whenever a parent's help was necessary.

We were poor, but really at that age we didn't know it. We lived on and off with various relatives on my mother's side of the family..mainly her mother or my dad's mother. My mother was better able to keep a job than my father, who despite being in the military at an early age, didn't get his high school G.E.D. until I was six years old. This caused a lot of resentment in our household. I don't think my dad appreciated my mother making more money than him and he certainly didn't appreciate her being  financially independent of him. Jobs in our town were hard to come about for black people, but especially hard for black men. Dad did eventually find work. He went to truck driving school and learned to drive tractor trailers.

For the first nine years of my life, my mother was employed at a textile company, where she went from making small change to a decent salary as a manager. Combined with her salary and my dad's money we entered the black middle class in our community. Though we still lived in an apartment at the time we didn't struggle hard for money. My parents had three cars, we went to the most successful elementary school in the district (which was right around the corner from our apartment complex), and every Christmas I had what I wanted and needed. In fact it seemed like we had more than the average black kids that lived in our apartment complex. My bestfriend, who lived only a couple of doors down from me, didn't have a father and her Christmas gifts were nothing like mine. She would often come over to my apartment to play the Sega with me and my brothers. My parents--particularly my dad--would later become close to her mother.

This life of family and prosperity didn't last long. When I was nine year olds my mother lost her job after the company (which was over 100 years old) closed down....

To be continued....
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