Dinner For Seven


My parents had three daughters. One was wanted, and has always been cherished:

Their Macy’s girl.

Guess It Was a Florida Macy’s.


 

We other two are their dime-store daughters.
 

Pecked From the Nest.

 

I am now close friends with my fellow dime-store outcast. Surprisingly, her own daughter has been accepted as a good friend of Macy-Girl’s daughter. The nonexistent sins of the mothers are not visited upon the daughters.
 

Lawrence Block and Ruth Rendell Wrote Versions, Too, But Using Either of Those Would Have Classed Up This Blog Too Much.

Not too long ago, the two cousins, who live on their own in different states, met up at Macy Girl’s house. She served dinner to the young women, as well as to her husband and his mom, and our own mother and father. Dinner for seven.

The next day, my mother and I are on the phone.

“And your sister did an amazing job. She managed to put on dinner for ALL of us!”

EVERYthing Macy-Girl Did Was Always Awesome.


 
My mother has never praised either of her dime-store daughters for a single one of our accomplishments as adults. Many are significantly more impressive than cooking a meal. I couldn’t stop myself:

“Wait just a minute, Mom. What is so ‘amazing’ about her making dinner?

“Well, she works, too!”

True. Macy Girl does work. Two grueling part-time days a week.

Though, To Hear HER Tell It, Her Two Part-Day Mole-Hills Require Full-Time Mountaineering Skills

“Well, Mom, I worked, too—only I worked full time. And I had lupus. And I chaired the PTA. And I prepared Sunday school lessons. And I STILL managed to cook.”

Here’s how the woman who wombed me and birthed me responds to my own amazing accomplishments:

“Oh, yeah? Who’d YOU ever cook for?”

What I Should Have Said.


 
I open my mouth but no sound emerges. Unsurprisingly, I left home at 17. I relocated on the far side of the fifty States. I’ve had therapy. Despite this, there are times this woman still manages to shock me into silence.

She decides to fill this by adding, sneeringly: “…besides your family!”
 

I Gave Her That Sweater Last Christmas. I Thought It Brought Out the Red In Her Eyes.


 
And as if I, also, find my family insignificant and my achievements worthless, I (yet again) find myself spitting into that glacial unmotherly wind, trying fruitlessly to convince the unconvince-able:

“I also prepared meals for more than my family, Mom. We DID throw parties in the early years of our marriage. Until my abusive spouse succeeded in socially isolating me.”

Ever-nurturing Mom responds.

“I don’t need to hear this!”

Translation:

“Don’t tell me any more lies about your marvelous ex-husband.”

Yes.  The Real Work of One of My Real Sons.

“I am afraid of the dark. I am also afraid of my dad.” (Written In 1st Grade By One of My Sons About My Marvelous Ex.)

She ends the call.

Only later do I remember that, although my two-faced spouse always jumped to impress most visitors,

Hurriedly lifting up a sponge or broom just as folks drove up,

Striving to do all the cooking whenever my parents or in-laws visited,

My parents did still savor a couple of outstanding meals prepared by my own terribly-inadequate dime-store hands.

Don’t Pictures Like This Always Make You Want to Either Run and Cook It or Run and Eat It?

But I understand why Mom was still not impressed by my skills in comparison to Macy Girl’s.

Around my dining table would have been seated my parents, my spouse, my two children, and I. Dinner for six, not seven.

All this time, I’ve been only one dinner guest shy of gaining Mommy’s love.



Born of the Devil… Never Fully Alive… Controlled From Afar… Be Afwaid!!!!


 
Next post in this Mommy Hyde series: Care For Some Crumbs?
 
Addendum Re: Emotional Abuse and Neglect
“That emotional abuse is more damaging than sexual and physical abuse may seem surprising, although they tend to go together.” [Yeah, our mommy and daddy whacked us, too. Meggie got her jaw cracked. You needed to be quick in our house!]

“A definitive analysis of the 41 best studies into the impact of childhood adversity on the risk of psychosis…broke down the role of different kinds of maltreatment. Emotional abuse meant exposure to behaviour such as harshness and name-calling from parents. Emotional neglect meant lack of love and responsiveness…emotional abuse increased the risk of psychosis the most (by 3.4 times), physical abuse and emotional neglect did so by 2.9, sexual abuse and bullying by peers by 2.4.”

“Similar findings come from studies of less extreme emotional distress. In the definitive one…90% of those who suffered early maltreatment qualified for a mental illness. Emotional neglect under the age of two was a critical predictor.”

Guardian article link
 
 
Next post in this Mommy Hyde series: Care For Some Crumbs?

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30 Comments

  1. M-R

     /  2014/04/11

    Not possible to ‘like’ this post: far too INFURIATING. How long will you continue to be crapped on like this ? – she may be your mother, but that doesn’t give you any obligation to put up with shit of this nature. Just walk away. What’s stopping you ? (genuine question)

    Like

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    • Hey, M-R,
      Fair question. Same one I used to ask my dime-store sister re: our male parent–the worst abuser–with whom she still maintains communications, whereas I have chosen to do otherwise. The answer is both simple and complex: (1) When you are raised as a beaten dog you see yourself as one, unless you are fortunate enough to be rescued by healthy outsiders. I was not so rescued, and did not begin to awaken to the extent of my personal damage until the tail end of my three-year divorce from my second major abuser. (Asperger’s added to my blindness.) (2) I did stop taking calls from my mother for over a year, and now she is rarely abusive in this manner–I normally cut her off at the knees when she forgets. But occasionally, one slips into old roles when an old button is pushed. Happily, I don’t berate myself over it–don’t berate myself over anything–had enough of that from others for ten lifetimes. (3) I maintain contact because mum has made some attempts–weak, but at least expressed–to apologize and atone, and (4) because she is a current victim of abuse and is socially isolated–her #*@-tiness is not entirely of her own making–I empathize; and (5), my father was the instigator of so much of the evil in our house and blamed it all on her–he is quite frustrated I will no longer speak with him (because he still bullies me verbally). I admit I am not entirely displeased that I will speak with his wife but not to him.

      Wow! What a long answer! Last, my mom, it turned out, had a chemical imbalance in her parathyroid which caused a HUGE amount of her nasty personality for the second half of her life. Since her surgery, the newer, sometimes AFFECTIONATE (!) mom is intriguing to know–occasionally delightful–and one wonders what she might have been like. Never would have been a stellar parent to her dime-store daughters, but the house would have been more peaceful–and entertaining. I remember mom being fun (occasionally) when we were small.

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      • M-R

         /  2014/04/11

        Thanks from the heart for taking such trouble to reply ! And I know now to pull my head in ! I always leap down people’s throats when I see unfairnwhat your writing is a matter of de-toxing …
        All the very best !

        Like

        Reply
  2. Urgh. What a painful conversation to relate. Yeah, it’s all about math, eh? Math and the damned ties that bind. You managed to curate a fine gallery of images, once again. That mommy shot is gruesome and exquisite at the same time. [shudder]. Not much to love, there, is there?
    An aside: I did not know Behcet’s until I “met” you, so I googled it. Sounds like it affects EVERYthing. You have been dealt an incredible hand, my dear. More power to you for retaining a fine sense of humour. Thanks for sharing the story.

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    • Hey, Maggie,

      A pastor helped me re: those ties. At the time, “Honor thy father and thy mother” was giving me a bit of a challenge. The pastor reminded me of the Bible’s many messages to parents about their responsibilities regarding their children, including the clear message to love them. He asked whether my parents were truly my parents at all. I felt I could answer him and God honestly that they had never been. Therefore, I was under no obligation to honor them or maintain ties of any sort.

      However, in the past few years, relations between my mother and me are much improved–I feel affection for her, and I THINK she for me. And if that is wishful thinking, don’t I deserve to imagine a caring mom for the next few years until she dies? Even one who cares not enough?

      Re: the lupus and Behcet’s, yeah, it sucks, but I am very lucky. I have only been hospitalized twice, and my eyes are in good shape other than the pissy right one which hurts from dryness all the time. I can have sex without sores now (even WOWZERS sex!), which is a big improvement over the past. I am active and healthier than many with autoimmune diseases–I think ’cause I refuse steroids and eat carefully (‘specially now that the friggin’ lupus or the last course of major antibiotics flipped me into celiac country), walk for at least an hour almost every day, often on hills. Was not terribly ill recently–just severe night sweats and weakness–Just had no extra energy for more than minimum stuff. (On worst night, cried like a total baby brat in anger ’cause was hungry and couldn’t pull the lid off the d#mn kale salad. And who wants to eat yet ANOTHER friggin’ kale salad anyway! I miss REAL FOOD!!!)

      Terribly immature of me to crave attention and sympathy (so many have it so much worse)–it’s that anti-nurturing childhood at play there–but THAT is probably why I mention the Behcet’s–AND why I write.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Yemie

     /  2014/05/06

    Wow! This is so heartfelt and I find myself wondering why some parents deprive some of their kids affections whilst loving another so much so that the seemingly ‘unloved’ will take notice. This will only bring about bad blood amongst the children, with the ‘unloved’ being hostile to the favourite of the family. Its just so wrong and unhealthy! While I totally understand that no two kids can be loved equally, I’m also of the belief that parents should be subtle in their approaches and not give away such an information at all. Afterall, every kid deserves to be loved, plus they didn’t ask to be born in the first place. I’m elated you’re looking to work things out with mummy dearest, two wrongs have never been known to make a right. I’ll bet she’s got some regrets too but wouldn’t wanna voice out. Thanks for sharing and your sense of humor’s to die for. That illustration ’bout the sweater totally did me in! I’m cracking up soooo bad! LOL

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    • Here’s aNOTHER one of your comments I missed for so long–Yikes! I’m going through WordPress’s Comments page to find any others of yours (and anyone else’s)–Jeez!

      Thank you for the compliment about my humor–one has to laugh about a family like mine or one would cry every day, yes? That sweater illustration IS tres creepy. I sometimes wonder if my mom could hear herself on tape if she would realize the impression that she gives others is sometimes not too far off from that sweater lady. She’s in hospital now, and her behavior toward staff there is so unpleasant that one of her doctors even questioned whether it was a symptom of her illness. “No,”, answered my older sister. “She’s just a (—)”.

      That’s my mom 🙂

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      Reply
      • Yemie

         /  2014/08/07

        Aww! I wish her a very speedy recovery! Some daughters really do have ’em! Your elder sister though….whoa! She’s a real mischievous piece of hilarious work! A firecracker for sure! LOL

        Like

        Reply
        • You should like my next post. It’s about that sister. It’s super-short, and already written, so there won’t be a big delay on this one–it just needs pics and a little fine-tuning. Will either post tonight or tomorrow.

          I actually accidentally posted LAST night: Was updating the draft and was so tired, clicked the wrong onscreen button–how embarrassing that was–automatic announcements were sent out by WordPress to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+… I had to flip the post to Private to make it invisible, and anyone who followed the tweet or link would be like “Huh? Where’s the post?”. That’s a sure way to win new fans, ain’t it 😉

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          Reply
          • Yemie

             /  2014/08/07

            Oops! A-W-K-W-A-R-D! On the brighter side, if you do win new fans then what the hey, that’s dandy, right?! Will look in on posts I’ve hitherto missed out on. Keep keeping on O.B and thanks so much for sharing! Kudos. smiley face

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            Reply
  4. Babe, you know that I am reading these posts late. I hope that things continue to improve in this complicated relationship with your mother. In spite of everything you’ve endured (and continue to) your amazing sense of humor shines through.

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    Reply
  5. Oh man. I get it. I’m an only, so I’m precious and special like a unicorn or whatever, but I’ve seen plenty of this elsewhere. I’m Italian. I can cook food like people play the piano by ear. I started cooking at age ? and by age 9, I was winning ribbons at the county fair. My father owned many restaurants, he and my stepfather are both excellent cooks, my stepfather, I’d even say is a gourmand. I love to cook, I have a large family and cook 2-3 hot meals a day. I bake when I’m happy and am always feeding my elderly neighbors etc. People come here and request specific dishes. People ask me to bring certain things to pitch-ins. I can cook, or if you’re regionally accepting, I can throw down.
    However, for years, my husband’s mother and her sisters would not allow me in the kitchen “down home.” So my kids would run amok on the farm and my husband would go off to talk to his uncles about tractors and shit, and I’d be left alone in the living room, because no one would let me help in the kitchen. I’d sit in the living room and play Tetris or read a book and then be accused of being antisocial.
    Additionally, I’d take baked apples, blackberry cobbler, or pumpkin loaves — that sorta thing, and only my husband, kids and my sister-in-law (who is also my oldest friend) would eat them. I stopped going. I told my husband I’d rather stay home on Thanksgiving and eat Raisin Bran. Like, I was so over it.
    I’d have my in-laws over for dinner and my FIL wouldn’t touch half of it and my MIL would report she felt like we didn’t have enough of anything, even though plenty of everything was left over.
    Then we moved 800 miles away. I do not know how that changed anything, but my MIL became FOND of my cooking and when she would come, she’d ask if I could make certain things while they were down. So I did.
    When we moved back, we lived with them until we bought our house, and I cooked about half the time. When it was her turn, she told me several times that her food was “nothin fancy like mine” or “not how I’m used to eating” or “it’s just simple country food.”
    Only recently has it come to my attention that my FIL doesn’t like Italian, Mexican, mushrooms, squash…oh the list is long.
    Even last summer, I sent the girls to a pitch-in thing with them, sending an Israeli salad and mini strawberry shortcakes and my MIL seem surprised that people ate it ALL and wanted to know who made them. So she asked me to make them for her. I guess it never occurred to her to TRY THEM. Me and my weird city fancy food. Whatever. I could only conclude that I cannot please her, or that she feels outdone, or whatever. I rave over her corned beef and gravy and devour her sinful mash like a beggar at the feast, and ultimately, It’s On Her, not me. There’s no pleasing some people.
    gives the finger to MIL and her sisters
    See? I’ll bring you my ickiness, too! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • That being made to sit outside the nest business that in-law women so often do to birds new to the flock is so common and bullsh#t. Sorry you went through it. It IS totally on them.

      I will say, though, Joey, it is in a different class than never having any flock to begin with. One is always in that room by oneself unless many miracles conjoin.

      I was lucky in that I was too thick to realize the flockless truth until I was older. My sister Meg realized it younger. She was luckier later because she married a man who loves her, whereas I did the opposite. We see-sawed in emotional health. (Had we only known, we could have waved in passing, but we weren’t yet friends. 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • I get that, too.
        I’m the weirdo in my family. Only now I can see the similarities instead of the outcast bit. When I was young, I was sure I was adopted or defective!
        Maybe your flock is not your family, but your sister Meg and friends you’ve collected along the path?

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • Yes. But I was the one pushing my flock members out of my extended nest during the abusive marriage–that is what happens during the social isolation of those relationships. I lost all my friendships I valued but one, and built no new ones, other than one with another woman in an abusive relationship–a woman who doesn’t drive. In L.A…

          When you don’t work outside the home, are over fifty, have only one local un-elderly friend (I had friends in their 70’s and up) and she cannot drive, and you must work part-time during after-work hours when people meet…or you fall asleep then from your lupus fatigue…kinda friggin’ limiting. I’m very grateful for my online flock, but the non-virtual social isolation is…unpleasant. Unnatural.

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          • That DOES sound isolating.

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            • It is partly the city. L.A. is both famous–world-famous, per Conde Nast–for being an unfriendly city, and it is also a young city–people here are uncomfortable with older people (all deny it, but it is fact). It is far easier to schmooze with strangers Northeast, Midwest, or South (except parts of F#cking Florida) than L.A. I was at a lecture and presentation being filmed at the Hammer Museum once when the presenter suddenly burst out (while being filmed):

              “How do you people DATE here?! How do you even TALK to people?! I’ve been here two weeks, from Boston, and this is the hardest place I’ve ever been to just MEET people!”

              He was thirty years old, so age wasn’t even a factor, for him.

              I have been letting economics hold me back because even gas$ is a big issue for me, but I’ve decided to let that go. I’ve joined some Meetups just to get out, will try to nap those days ahead of time (can’t always schedule these things) and see how things go. The members are all younger, but it is what it is.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I have never been to LA, and honestly, no offense, I’ve no desire to go. I spent little time in southern California, and did not like it. Northern is better, but like apples and oranges, hm? LA makes me think about people who are so unlike me, I can’t imagine how strange I’d feel there, and I generally feel strange to begin with. It is very easy to meet people where I live. People are generally friendly and happy to pass the time with chit chat. There’s a lot of hospitality here, like a cultural religion.
              I’m glad you’re going to some meetups. Age doesn’t make much difference to me. I suppose I prefer the old to the young, because I like learning, but now and again, I find a younger person who makes me think, and I keep them around because they’re only getting better 😉

              Liked by 1 person

            • No offense taken! It’s a great place to visit, or to live short-term, or when young–a great party city, or place to come for music–fantastic for that!

              I’m a Midwestern kid–Chicago area. Very friendly there. I had cousins in Indiana, in the dunes area. (How much fun is THAT? I wrote about it. Should post that.)

              Behcet’s is a disease of the capillaries. Cold shuts me down. Anywhere with mosquitos is bad, too: One of those people they love, and the skin overreacts–probably from the Behcet’s. That would point to desert cities, but I dislike the desert: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. Yuck!! I crave museums, gardens, cult-chah. That left southern Cal. Right now, I’m rethinking, though.

              Like

    • Pee-Esses: Your ickinesses are welcome. Your food is welcome, too. Would love to see what you could whip up in the GF, corn-product-free line : ) I was getting hungry reading your words, and I just finished stuffing my face, here.

      That business about not even trying stuff I have no patience with. Unless the stuff is culturally-conditioned to be repulsive (e.g. most Americans and organ meats or insects), there is just no excuse.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Right?!? People are starving, who am I to complain about what I have to eat?!? I’m not too good with the gf and corn-free, since I live in Indiana, but I do make an awesome chocolate quinoa cake which is safe. Also, I love celery with peanut butter and golden raisins — it’s been my thing for about a year now. It’s like a party in my mouth! And that ain’t fancy! 😛
        Gf would be easier if they didn’t hide the gluten in everyeffingthing. Mercy. Like sugar, it seems nothin is complete without it!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • Chocolate quinoa cake? I’d eat it! Without baking powder? (There’s cornstarch in baking powder.)

          Yup to sneaky gluten. It’s that way with maltodextrin, too, which I also can’t have. Those federally-subsidized corn growers have snuck that ingredient in everywhere, including into chicken–why the frig do we need corn sweetener in chicken?

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
          • Why do we need it in BREAD? We could go on all day about what we really don’t need in our food!
            No cornstarch, totally safe. I made it for my gf friend. Pricey, but completely delicious. I did an almond-flour one, too, but it was nowhere near as good and cost way more. Almond flour does yield nice cupcakes or muffins tho.

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
            • Yes. I have all those specialty flours, but I’ve found I do hardly any baking after all because…(I’m a bit ashamed now): I eat EVERYthing all at once when I bake anything delicious. Cookies, muffins, bread. Whatever. And if it’s the latter two, I slather them with butter first. So better I let economics limit me to indulging rarely with the tiny handful of store-boughts that meet my rigid diet and taste rules.

              I also scarf these up all at once. I am basically a pig who knows which circle of hell awaits.

              Liked by 1 person

    • P.P.S: I just got a vision of you frying a batch of homemade donuts and placing them on your unicorn horn to drain. Ridiculous. Unless that horn has oil-absorbing properties.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Completely ridiculous. My horn is invisible to me, as only parents can see their children’s horns, be they precious unicorns or pointy devils. Either way, fresh fried donuts are much too hot 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • Lol.
          😀
          OHhh, I used to love homemade donuts for the boys on Sunday mornings… stupid gluten. I could still make them, but the time it takes wouldn’t be worth the bother. For the best. If my panties shrink anymore, I’ll have to find a new brand where the L runs more true-to-size.
          😉

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
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