Twelve is a tender age for a girl. There are so many strange new things to learn about being a girl and some are down right scary. When girlfriends took it upon themselves to educate me about how babies are conceived I was shocked. In – awe – shocked. What an alarming thought at 12-years old. Well, back in my day it was, though I’m not sure about now?
Naturally assuming I would have children someday I was in bad need of clarity. Surely there was a more reasonable explanation. I don’t know why it was so difficult for my Mother to have that conversation when all of my friends were learning it, but she hadn’t. I was going to have to pull it out of her. This was important stuff.
Mustering my confidence and finding her alone in the kitchen one day, I asked if she’d tell me about “the birds & the bees.” How that phrase ever came to coin this intimate conversation was beyond me but I did know it was an easy-in to ask. Mom didn’t raise her head from her work on the kitchen counter as she responded with an awkward nervousness, “What do you want to know?” Oh, man, if this subject made Mom nervous it must be really bad … my Mom was no prude.
‘What do I want to know?’ I pondered that, it being the last thing I expected to hear. How could I possibly know what I wanted to know else I wouldn’t be asking to know it. That wasn’t fair. Mom’s evasive nervousness effectively deterred me. I felt stupid for asking what surely must’ve been a stupid question or a subject so torrid it couldn’t be broached, even between mother and daughter. Any confidence I’d summoned quickly fell by the wayside..
I shrugged a dismissive “I dunno” and after a pregnant pause hoping she’d offer more, I let her off the hook to do what she felt most comfortable doing, homemaking. It was never mentioned again. Never. I was left to late night sleepovers with girlfriends’ condescending laughter as they brought me along in what they thought they knew until I couldn’t bear the humiliation of asking them any more stupid questions, either.
Mom & Dad had had serious problems in their marriage for years and not long after this Mom abandoned us, my sister and me. ‘Abandoned’ is a word so harsh I never use it to describe Mom leaving. But I guess that is what it really was and in my heart I guess I know that. In hindsight and given my ripe age at the time, it seems knowing she was leaving should’ve prompted some kind of ‘bird & bees’ talk with me. Maybe it was some thwarted punishment of an archaic husband in impressing how valued she should’ve been, in making her presence missed. That wouldn’t totally surprise me. If a tough conversation for her she’d know how forthcoming and impossible it would be for him. Or maybe she just had bigger fish to fry and everything was that simple.
I never wanted pity for Mom leaving, which is an inescapable connotation of the word. She had left us in good hands. I suppose I never use the word, to protect me and to respect her. I refuse to think she didn’t love us and we certainly loved her. I knew she had to leave. I understood why she did. It was one of those things, not unlike the birds & bees conversation she & I had that we never really had.
Arrival of my first “monthly friend” shortly after Mom left was the only time I truly felt abandoned and what a devastatingly critical juncture of life to come to terms with it. No preparations had been made and nothing spoken of what adults should’ve well known by then was forebodingly eminent. Left in the hands of a father at what was such a tender age of need-to-know, I had absolutely no idea how to cope or what to do and no one to turn to when it came. Dad did the best he could but a young girl isn’t about to let a father in the bathroom at such a private moment of intimate mess and horror. That was really unfair.
Once a child is abandoned I think they must go the rest of their lives expecting it or maybe fighting so hard against it that it becomes the worst of self-fulfilled prophecies. Somewhere deep inside there’s a knowledge that of all the people in the world, you are the one who doesn’t deserve unabandoned love. You don’t hold anyone else to reasonable standards because you feel lucky to have whatever affection they give you – or what you want to believe is affection – and seeing how little it takes to satisfy you, pseudo affection is all they do give.
You develop such a determined blind fervor of commitment in loving others so you’ll never impose on someone else the lousy hand you were dealt, you don’t even see when they’ve already left, too. Without realizing it you’ve made yourself so vulnerable to abandonment that it becomes a circular of who you are, what your life is, what others expect of you and what you get back from them. Health and prosperity should be so easily come by.
Abandoned? Yeh, I know something about that. It is what it is and it’s never as simple as the one word implies.
In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Abandoned.”