Joyful Mommy Jekyll–Part 6

Every summer he was home, my male parent, Warren, would wake us all up at 4:00 AM and tell us we had ten minutes to get into the car. Getting in a car to go on vacation with Warren was hell.

Sometimes, though, he was away on business, and mom would drive us. Then, it was a whole different story. Every time one of us kids would go “Oooo, what’s that? I want to go there!” Mommy Jekyll would stop the car and let us.

White and Black Face Fuscia Border

We visited Jesse James town, Silver Dollar City, you name it. Every tourist trap that dotted the side of the road, our mom let us stop at. This was back in the day, before any of these places were built up and all looked alike. People would take their time and chat with children and answer all our questions.

We saw a man wrestle an alligator, a snake pop balloons with its pointy fangs, and a talking minah bird that had its tongue split because the owner thought that would help it to talk.

Alligator Wrestling

We bought little toy monkeys made out of real fur, that got real bugs in it after the monkeys sat in the hot car for days. We went inside a real mine that had an old, blind donkey for hauling, and we all got real quartz crystals.

One time, we spread our picnic blanket by the side of the highway and started eating our lunch. Then, we heard a sound I’d never heard before.

“What’s that?” we all asked mom.

Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake Ready to Strike

“Pick up your things quickly and come back over this way.” she answered, as she bundled our picnic up into the blanket. After we had backed up, she explained that it was a rattlesnake that didn’t like us being there. (Then we wanted to go back and see it, of course!)

Another time, it was raining so hard that no one could see the front hood of the car. Mom pulled over by the side of the road. The rain turned into hail bigger than Paul’s goggling eyes.

Hail and Rain While Driving

The balls made big crashing sounds on the car windshield. Our mom turned around over the front seat and smilingly asked “Isn’t this exciting?”

What a mom.

Mommy Jekyll was adventurous at home, too. Often, after church on Sunday, she would let us steer her. We’d tell her “Turn left here”, or “Go straight and then turn right up there”, and so forth, until we all wound up somewhere none of us had been before. Then, she’d slowly wend our way back along a different route, poking along to see if there was anything interesting to see.

Because we lived close to the border of northern New Jersey, farm country then, a lot of times these Sunday detours would take us next to a roadside fruit stand. Then we’d have the extra treat of eating fresh strawberries, or a perfect watermelon.

Roadside Fruit Stand

Ah, THOSE were the good old days.

Macy Girl recently pointed out that this aspect of our mom which I so enjoyed and viewed as something she did for our benefit may not have been done with us in mind at all. For when she was younger and in better shape, mom would take off on an annual solo road trip and wander at will, taking great pleasure in this.

Lone Woman Road Trip

(It is interesting and, to a degree, disconcerting to me, that I take after Mommy Jekyll in her wanderlust and lack of concern over travelling sans partner.)

It wasn’t only during travel that Mommy Jekyll appeared. For some unknown reason, mom would occasionally awaken in a jolly mood–a mood which she was willing to share with just one of us.

Good Day Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Don’t ask me how we four children sensed this, but sense it we did. We would gather in the front foyer for a hurried, hushed conference:

“It’s one of mom’s good days–whose turn is it?”
“It’s mine!”
“No it isn’t! You just had her time before last!”
“Oh yeah…I think it’s Paul’s turn.”

We were cutthroat, vicious beasts to each other much of the time, but we were scrupulously fair to each other on these occasions. The winning child would subtly ease her or his way toward mom whilst the others surreptitiously faded into various quiet corners, leaving mom with only one child upon whom to rain her rare bounty. Off the two would go, shopping, exploring, to the the movies, or whatever they chose.

None of us were jealous, for our turns would come. The favored child of the day would return and regale us with the details of the treats and endearments they had experienced, and the vicarious pleasure would sustain us until then.

Every Dog Has Its Day

For Every Dog Has Its Day


Initial vacation paragraphs are a little inexact, as well as the 4:00 departure. I just wanted to give an overall impression. Those story parts alone may slightly vary from literal truth.

There were times of happiness in our household I didn’t include. We children did play together sometimes, and had fun sometimes. Mommy and Mr. Jekyll acted almost like normal parents sometimes. We even had family jokes. I’ll post about some of the good times someday.

There were evils I didn’t include. One I mentioned in a comment response: Mommy Hyde stopped buying me clothes at age 16. Another: My first term at college, Mommy Hyde packed up and gave away everything I owned. (Macy Girl’s things were kept for years.) Yet another: Shortly after she sat by my side while I was diagnosed diabetic, Mommy Hyde showed up at my college dorm bearing gifts: A grocery bag full of candies, sugar cereals, and cookies.

Part 6 of a 7-part series that will be posted daily. Following that, the focus will shift away from my mommy issues.
Last Part:
Epitaph for Mean

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  1. Paul

     /  2014/08/22

    At least she gave a little bit of hope that you might be treated well for a day anyway. And the wandering thing? I too have that. I’d go for drives by myself for a day or when at work for months. I had no problem sharing that and often my ex and I would go an vacation for 2 weeks with no plans and just turn as we saw fit at each intersection. We would stay at random towns whenever we felt like stopping for the day. That was a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m asleep right now, or I’d say more…………………………………………………………………………….


    • That thing with your ex sounds wonderful. Envious here. Always wanted a partner who would do that. My (straight) girlfriend here and I have done some of that for short hops, and treasure our Wild Women Weekends.


  2. What a rich story you tell! I hope your siblings are there to support you now. Xx


    • Will this story never end, you mean 😉 ?

      As for the siblings’ support: Hahahaha!

      OTH, yes, one of the three is very much there for me: Meg, my younger sister. My brother does not speak to us (his choice), and my older sister is not close 🙂 .

      YEARS ago, in my early twenties, I read a superb book for victims of parental abuse–I am sorry I don’t remember which one–and took away two valuable gifts:

      (1) Per its author, there were indications that those sufferers who at no point confronted their abuser(s) by telling her/him what was done and, more importantly, how it made them feel–were less likely to recover to become survivors.

      The author HIGHLY recommended that if one could not do this in person, to write a letter, and not wait. He warned that if the abuser dies before this is achieved, resolution would be difficult to achieve.

      (2) The author also warned that siblings–either witnesses or themselves victims–will not respond with delight when the abuse is named and the abuser confronted. Experience shows that, in most cases, they respond with denial, and cast aspersions upon the veracity or stability of the survivor who speaks out.

      The author explained that this is because they have chosen, basically, to “go along to get along”, many times settling as an adult near the abusive parent, sharing her/his worldviews, etc. They have carried fear from childhood that anything will rock the boat–the fragile contract they’ve established–with the person in power.

      Guess I could work for a better metaphor there, but to heck with it–you get it.


  3. RR

     /  2014/08/22

    The abuse bestowed is bad enough but the inconsistency is what really damages because it only furthers the abuse. I do not envy the Jekyll/Hyde situation.


    • I don’t know even now what I think about all of it. The seeming normalcy is probably what tricked me into thinking the family WAS normal, which did two things:

      (1) Helped me stay sane (as much as I was–since I was likely schizophrenic at a very young age) and sometimes happy, So, I’m glad for the ups of the up-down childhood.

      (2) Sadly, stopped me from telling anyone outside the so-called “family” what was going on. Because my family was normal. So, maybe not so glad.

      I am confident the constant fear brought on by the unpredictability caused my current autoimmune illnesses. While my lupus wasn’t diagnosed until ’86, I most likely had it in childhood (will blog about this). My sister Meg has lifetime inflammatory problems in her tendons that had to first be addressed with surgery when she was sixteen. Macy Girl? Healthy. Paul? Healthy, one one possible autoimmune bout with his heart (he was abused but it stopped earlier than with Meg and I).

      Hey, whatever. You know. Just not the best way for kids to grow up.


      • RR

         /  2014/08/22

        Perhaps, you were innately stronger. On a higher level. I would like to believe that we are only dealt what we can handle…at least, that helps me stay sane and stops me from asking “why” but that is not to say everyone should be like me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yemie

     /  2014/08/22

    Well as you rightly pointed out, every ‘dawg’ has its day! Even with a monster, sometimes; humanity begets humanity! There comes a moment of clarity, fleeting but surreal! Its a good thing you experienced that aspect of her. She really does have a ‘cocktail’ of personalities, I only wish you’d had more good times like these outweighing the not-so-good ones. Drawing up a roster to get to spend time with Mommy Jekyll’s nothing short of ludicrous, unbelievable! That bit ’bout not being excited ’bout going on road trips and vacations with Daddy dearest got me laughing soo hard! Thanks again for sharing.


    • He really was weird in his idea of these journeys. It was all about driving fast and getting there, and he wanted to get to the motels before 4PM or something like that. My mom’s job was to keep us kids quiet in the back of the station wagon. As if! We did have fun back there, when we weren’t fighting like mad.


  5. Having read part 6, I really, really don’t want to read part 5. Sorry, but the good stuff is so good that I get scared away from the bad stuff. Thanks for the reminiscence. Is it appropriate to ask in roughly which decade all this enjoyable mayhem took place?


    • I was unable to read the grim parts of someone else’s abuse tale, so I certainly understand! As for the decadeS I was alternately abused and not, I am more than half a century old 🙂

      (I said it that way because I remember a friend staggering dazed into our chorus room in 7th grade, sitting down slowly, and uttering in a low, awestruck tone: “My dad is HALF A CENTURY OLD today!” We were all awestruck after that.)


      • Oh, dear me. I’ve spent the past six months chanting, like a mantra, that “I am almost half a century old” because I’m 49. Now I feel like an utter thief.


        • Hahaha. Naw. OWN it. I was never coy about my age until I began trying this online dating stuff (which so far has been a dead loss, BTW), It is a rare male over 40 who wants to date a female anywhere close to HIS age.


          • As kids used to say, online dating is fail. I’m glad I have no reason to date (asexual) so I haven’t been tempted to waste my time. From what I’m told, the best way to meet potential romantic partners is through hobby clubs, but that also depends on how open people at such clubs in your area are to meeting someone. In my city (Toronto) people are unfailingly polite but distant and guarded, so that usually doesn’t work, either.


            • Hey, Kheleya,
              Just had to tell ya’: HOW long has it been since your comment? And I maybe, might, MEET my first someone this week. Bro-ther… Time for those hobby clubs!


    • Gosh! I didn’t even say “Thank you” for stopping by, and for that “good stuff is so good” 🙂 Thank you! 🙂 🙂


  6. Curiousity will get me to the other parts of your story. It seems wrong, somehow, to appreciate your humour. [sigh]


  1. Epitaph For Mean | The Last Half

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