My mom and dad got married in December when they were 20 and 19. I was born the following June. Do the math. Mom says i likely only moved things along a little quicker, but they would’ve gotten married anyway.

My brother Bennie (named after the Elton John song) was born 16 months after me. Less than two years, but because of where his birthday landed he was two years behind me in school.

I don’t know when they got divorced, exactly. My first memories are living with mom and bennie in the top floor apartment several miles down the road from the house where i would spend my childhood. The place i still call Home. There is a puddle of memories there that extends for a few years. i don’t remember chronologically where they belong but i know the jist, and have learned things since. Living with mom, bennie and i spent a lot of time exiled to the outside while she was sleeping. The neighbors took care of us, one of whom was a friend of my father’s parents. eventually those grandparents babysat us so mom could sleep.

Then something happend. This is a thing i know but i don’t ever remember it being told to me… not until i was much older. It must be something that was spoken of over my head, something i knew just because i knew it. I don’t remember the event and for that i am thankful. But when i put together what i know and the one memory i have… the memory of sitting in a hard plastic chair in a room with white walls, grandma beside me and Teddy Ruxpin in my lap. The police officer told me not to smile as he took my picture. Even then i must have already forgotten what had happened, or was too young to connect any special meaning to it, because i didn’t understand why i shouldn’t smile.

But what bruised and battered child would be smiling in the file photos.

Then we lived with dad. For a while with the grandparents, until they helped him buy the house that is my Home.

For a while, i think she was sort of stable. Never with the child support, but at least with the visitation. But after divorcing her second, abusive husband she moved away and the stability of visits disappeared. I was only maybe eight at that point.

I grew up with my dad in an existance lacking a mother. yes, i could have contaced her, she has pointed out. but what did i know? this was my life. i had no other life to compare it to, to know there was something wrong. and besides, i was the kid. it was not my responsiblity to keep in touch.

Visits were far between and sometimes forgotten. Birthdays, occasionally, too. child support was a joke, and then i heard gripes about how my dad used it to buy things for himself. He has recently given me the portion of child support that he put away into an interest gaining fund while he was getting it. It wasn’t much, but it paid off a student debt and i was thankful for it. Bennie had one too. The rest went to groceries, electric, gas to drive us to the babysitter and her fee. Single dad with two kids at the same job he’d had since he was 17? There were no luxuries.

It wasn’t an entirely mom-less existance because i had my father’s sister. She’s the one who took us places, who hung out with us, took care of us, checked on us, made us stew on mondays, took us to the lake, took me to get stitches, bought me my first batch of pads and talked me through my first teenage broken condom.

And when i got engaged, when i got pregnant Mom suddenly decided that she wanted to be my best friend. She thought that i should throw away all the years of not knowing her and change every thought i’d ever had and be her best friend just because these big changes were happening in my life.

But you don’t get to pick and choose. and i can’t change my mind overnight.

The ancient history is not part of the problem, not anymore. I would not wish my life to be any other way. I fear i would’ve had no stability of my own had i remained living with her for my entire childhood. I like where i am, i like who i am, but that does not mean that i like how i was treated. and that’s what this is all about.

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