Part 5: Finally, I’m Someone to be Proud Of
I was no longer being held up as a success, I was treated like I didn’t exist at all. After a couple years of going nuts with my freedom, of trying to find myself, of leaving my religion, I decided to right myself. I decided my kids needed a better mommy. I was lucky in that I was able to hide the things I’d done, and kept them out of all of it.
Years passed. I met a nice guy, who I found out later was homeschooled too. I was not an atheist, but, I don’t know what I was. Certainly not the type of Christian I was raised to be. I stopped drinking. I got a job I liked, in a good environment. I graduated college with one degree, am working on a second now. I am very happily married to that man I mentioned before. I’m a stay at home mom, who homeschools her kids, but keeps them busy outside the home. We don’t go to church. I have friends. We travel a lot. My husband has a great job. I’m well spoken and polite, though somewhat quiet. My kids are happy and healthy. I make sure they get to have friends, and be away from me, so they have the freedom to talk if there is a problem. We have a very cute little house, in a pretty little subdivision. A swimming pool and nice neighbors and two matching cars in the driveway. We do not yell, we do not fight, we do not speak harshly. We are the American Dream. Again, we are held up as examples, of “successful homeschoolers” and “homeschooling done right”.
And, when you look at the rest of my family, it isn’t surprising to see that I’m the one held up as an example now. Because, eventually I turned out ok. It doesn’t matter that it was in spite of my upbringing, not because of it. I guess my one big flaw is I’m not “Christian” but, I’m a nice person and likable, so people seem to not realize I’m not religious. I am the only one to finish college. I’m the only one without huge money problems. I’m the only one who can write and spell. I’m the only one with a clean house, and the only one who cooks well and has people over who aren’t related. One sibling has no motivation to do anything but party and run over their spouse to get their way. Another is in what seems to be an abusive marriage, but, won’t talk to us. Another is just out of their teens and divorced once. Another has been pressuring his fiancé, who is still in high school, for sex. One of them should be in jail. One is well on their way to alcoholism. One adult can’t read. The “baby” is treated as such. He is kept the baby because that’s all my parents know, how to raise babies. Recently, I confronted my mother about some of the abuse and non-schooling. She said she was sorry for my perception of reality and I was entitled to my own opinion. But, she hopes I can grow enough as a person to forgive my father and move on. Afraid, perhaps I was remembering things wrong, I mentioned it to several of my siblings. They all acknowledged that I had gotten the worst of it, that they remember it.
But nobody ever hears about our pasts, at least, my husband and I have made sure we don’t talk about it. It isn’t a fun subject, it’s humiliating. We don’t want to be known as weird or different. So, nobody knows about the bad. About all the times we were everything parents fear their children will grow in to. Nobody hears about how bad we are at making friends, or fitting in. Nobody knows all the nights we’ve spent, taking turns holding each other and crying, because we are finally able to process the pain and the abuse. Because, we are finally starting to believe, we aren’t worthless, we are likable, we aren’t bad people, and then we wonder, why didn’t our parents want us to know that? Nobody knows the rage that fills us when we hear about how wonderful either of our sets of parents are, or how we should thank them because we turned out so well. Nobody knows that I let my 9 year old brother practically live here, because otherwise mice crawl on him at night when he sleeps. And, he is the only reason I have not cut off all contact with my family. Nobody knows I catch my 18 year old brother sneaking off when he is here, to read the helicopter book I brought home from the library for my 2nd grader. Nobody knows how I flunked the easiest college math class 4 or 5 times. Nobody knows my mother in law was almost 40 when she started dating a high school boy, and had a baby with him, that baby grew up and is now my husband. Nobody knows how my husband’s father was kept in an abusive situation. Nobody knows how she kept my husband isolated while they moved around the globe. Nobody knows how scared he was of her, when it came time to tell her he was in love with me, because the emotional incest made such an unhealthy relationship.
Nobody talks about anything really. The fact I ran away is no longer mentioned. I’m old enough now people don’t just assume unwed, teenage, mother. In fact, my first husband doesn’t even really exist in the perfect narrative. The length of time my husband and I have been married isn’t brought up. We’ve been together “forever”. (Forever means less than 5 years, in case you were wondering.) It’s pointed out how much the kids look like my husband. And, they really do. It’s nice, I suppose, because it adds to the illusion. Nobody ever asks any questions. It’s easily assumed that we are in our early thirties, and have been married for 11 or 12 years now.
We look pretty, and we aren’t in jail, we are responsible, productive citizens (well, kind of. Brad isn’t a citizen. 🙂 )We are good parents, and our kids behave. So, ask our parents, they will show you our family picture and remind you, homeschooling, and the Pearl method of child raising works.