Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The night mommy went crazy

Mom was mostly normal (so far as I remember) through the course of my childhood. It was on the occation of my brother's second birthday that she snapped.

I didn't actually wittness the snapping. She had told me to stay in the family's maroon red station wagon with my brother, who was asleep in the white car seat with his backside stuck to the brown plastic cushion. It wasn't especially hot outside, in fact it was a late September afternoon and the sun had slipped past the rooftops so it was no longer beating down upon us. The windows were rolled down but the car had somehow gotten warm, and I remember my brother's cheeks being red as he slept. He was thin for his age, and his gangly legs dangled out of the car seat, sockless velcro shoes occationally twisting back and forth with the weird muscle spasm he used to have in his hand while sleeping.

We were down at the local baseball field, parked in the dusty weed-ridden lot next door which was already full of cars. The herse-like station wagon was parked half in the dirt and half on the smooth, sculpted red brick sidewalk. I remember hanging out the car window, staring at it, wondering how long it had been there.

I could hear the sounds of ball being played--leather and cork thunking against aluminum bats, the cheer and jeer of the parental crowed. I kept hanging out the car window, feeling the metal of the frame crush my stomach, until it felt like my eyes would explode from the sockets. All the while I kept looking across the empty, lonely street to the sandstone steps and fence that boardered the park. Some day I'd walk around the outside, even though it got higher and higher up the further you walked. I would be that brave.

Mostly I wanted mom to come back because it would mean cake and icecream, two things not often found in our household. However, this was supposed to be a "party," for my brother. I still wasn't sure what type of party involved just us and Nonna and Grandpap, but if it had cake and icecream, it'd be a party worth attending. Still, it seemed like he should have little playdate friends and other little toddlers to come to his party and pretend like they knew where they were... or something. Those are the things you worry about when you're six--the social norms of the average toddler party goer.

I remembered mom had been really mad when she'd driven over there. I wasn't sure why. Finally giving up, I crawled back into the car and fell asleep, even though I was supposed to be paying attention, and in charge and stuff. Those were different times. People thought about child abductors but no one seriously thought it could happen to them. Why else would you leave a six year old to watch a two year old in a lonely parking lot filled with weeds, broken cement and choppy mounds of sand?

The car door opened, and I sat up, eyes wide, pretending that I'd always been awake. She got in, pissed off and a little sad. She was wearing a green and white house smock, probably one belonging to my grandmother. There was something old and young about her at the same time, especially when she began her tangent that she was sure everyone at the field hated her now because she'd started screaming at dad.

I knew we didn't 'air our dirty laundry' in public. Oh no. You could be the most wretched, vile person at home, but God forbid anyone in public think anything about you other than what you chose to present. This was something my grandparents were experts at too.

Mom was talking about how she could never show her face down the field again, that they'd all think she was a psychopath. Of course, she was also intermittantly raving about how Dad was a useless son of a bitch who couldn't even show up for his son's birthday party because he was too busy being "mister big shot" down the field.

That rant on the drive to my grandmothers was the first time I ever heard her swear. I thought for sure she'd gone insane.

Of course, I've not had much to aleviate my fears. That was the day mommy started screaming, and she's never stopped. A life time of anger over her childhood, and at my dad's habitual selfish neglect spilled over that day. Now her mouth fires off without warning. It's only been in recent years that she's made an effort to contain it. Therapy was working, but she's stopped.

I'm still hanging out the car window, waiting for the return of the mommy who spoke softly and said nice things.

3 Comments:

Blogger dON Lee said...

Life's a bitch... Anyhow, great write, hope you don't mind me linking to your blog... cheers!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Very nice ending, Tammy. :)

11:16 AM  
Blogger Abby said...

This post was very engaging. The details brought me right into that car with you and your brother.

9:46 PM  

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