Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Innocence lost

This is not a happy, cheerful post. But it's true.

Somewhere during our evening of watching Netflix, eating dinner, and doing our evening chores, the words came out, "I think that X stole my childhood." Now, "X" is a person who was in our lives for a long time. I won't tell their name because it doesn't matter. But the story matters. It matters to me and to my children. Because, after hearing about the things that happened, I can't help but agree. Days when I was at work for hours and the person was supposed to be "dad" to my kids ended up being days when my kids fended for themselves and got yelled at for making too much noise. Days when my children were supposed to feel safe in their home they were, instead, grabbed by the ear and dragged down the hallway to pick up a candy wrapper. When my kids enjoyed a walk home from school that included laughter and running around, they were shamed with a photograph because their coats weren't buttoned up. The person who was supposed to care for them each day while I worked to pay the bills secluded themselves in a room and played Freecell until it was nearly time for me to get home.

Some of you might wonder why I put up with it. Why I stayed for so long. Now, after time to think and to reflect on the past, I wonder that, too. Part of it was that I felt obligated to stay while they worked through their issues. Part of me didn't feel it was right to leave someone who didn't seem to be able take care of themselves. And a big part of me held onto hope that things were going to get better.

They did. And didn't.

After a while, my kids gave up hope of having someone to be their Dad. Sure, this person gave them advice and was a good sounding board when there was trouble, but there was little emotional support. My kids thought that they weren't supposed to cause trouble in the household so they stayed quiet about how they felt. At some of these times I was working full-time and going to school full-time. At other points I was working two jobs and rarely got to see my kids, but I trusted that they were being well taken care of. At other points I was working from 4:30 am to 7-8:00pm. My kids thought that I had enough to deal with and didn't want to bother me.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because of the words that my daughter said to me on a quiet Monday evening. They cut me deeply because I knew that they were true. The joyful laughter that once filled their childhood had faded just as clearly as the colors in winter. The surety that they once had in the world around them turned into cynicism and anger. And I was there and did nothing about it.

Yes, my hours were crazy sometimes, but in reality, I should have noticed a lot sooner. And now I can only apologize for the loss of childhood innocence that they now feel. I could keep going with what I "should have" done, but it will do no good now. Instead, I will keep doing my best to let them know that I didn't mean for that to happen. And to let them know that I love them with all of my heart. And I hope that they will rise above this and be better people than the other adults in their lives.


2 comments:

  1. Woah. This made me cry. For B, for you, for myself and my siblings. We also had an "X" in our lives. No relation to me but to the others. He would hide in his office, on his computer and leave us to fend for ourselves. It forced me to grow up so much faster than we wanted to. It has made us the people we are today and, since I have left the teen years behind me, I am now thankful for that. Thank you for spelling out what my own mother most assuredly felt. I love you both. ♡

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    1. Thank you. Brianna & Anthony both talked with me about all of this. When some of the topics came up I wanted to cry, too. When I asked them why they didn't say something about it, they both told me that they didn't think they should say anything because it would cause trouble. That broke my heart so much. I just hope that they both know how wonderful they are.

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