She is like the poem
“When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was wicked”.
I can’t remember most of my childhood and most of what I do remember is filled in with the photos we have.
I have one sister and two brothers and throughout their childhood I was the “mother”. Being the eldest I guess we always get the raw deal.
However if it wasn’t for my siblings I think I would have slowly gone insane. I used to think it was something I had done. But when they would argue I would hear him say she wasn’t a fit mother often enough to know I wasn’t to blame.
I hated him for a while then, the thinking was it must be his fault. Always shouting at her but again after I grew up a bit more I realised it was nobody’s fault. The excuses came thick and fast both from my father and my mother.
My father says he drinks to avoid conflict, although nowhere near as bad as my mother, it’s an excuse I have brushed off more than once. There is always an excuse, the bills can’t be paid, a family crisis arises, a friend passes away etc.
I am now a mother myself, and to be quite honest I am learning how to be a mother as I go.
The subject of my mothers drinking is occasionally mentioned around my mother but her reply is she knows she needs help. She never seeks it. This has led me to visit less over the years as I don’t want my son to see her when she is on one of her binges.
Her binges can last up to a month and then she may sober up for a few weeks. The resulting withdrawal symptoms are not a pretty sight. Her face is swollen, she shakes so much she spills her tea and her speech is usually still slurred.
As children we never invited anyone home, the embarrassment would have been too much to bear.
When I brought my husband home to meet them I had to first explain the situation. As usual he didn’t understand the severity and even made a joke about his own drinking habits. But now he knows and even though we have been married 15 years I am still embarrassed about him seeing her drunk.
She has never been in trouble with the law, Dad brings home the money and she spends it. They have arguments about her spending but he gives in, in the end.
I think the thing that hurts the most is when birthdays and Christmas come around. She forgets both and the grandchildren miss out. It was hard enough coming to terms with the fact I can’t help her without having to explain where she is on these occasions.
My son is 11, I have so far gotten away with saying she is ill when asked if we can visit or if she doesn’t turn up when she said she would. But I know the day will come when he will want to know what’s wrong with her.
My siblings and I look out for each other and leave my parents to it. We are all grown up now but I wish I knew I could speak to someone when I was younger. The topic never arose with family; it was a taboo subject. I think everyone knows but wont talk about it.
Anyway, for anyone reading this: It’s not your fault. Life can be a pleasure to live if you let yourself.
It has taken a while but I dot fear the drink as I used to and can even polish off a bottle of wine with my husband without thinking is this the one that’s going to turn me into my mother.