When I was a child growing up in an unsettled family life, my most dreaded fears would come upon me at night while I tried to sleep. I’d worry and wonder about if when I awoke in the morning, my father would still be there.
Many times I awoke to find my fears had come true. My dad had once again been evicted by my mother’s angry tantrums.
I didn’t understand why all of my friends had two loving parents and did so many fun things together as a family. I wasn’t used to that. My father was often living on his own. My consolation was that my father would pick me and my younger siblings up on Sunday mornings from his parent’s house where we spent most of our weekends until I was almost fourteen years old.
He’d take us to his favorite greasy spoon restaurant for bacon and eggs. We’d listen to the radio blaring in the car as my dad cranked it louder and pretended to sing along with his own version of the lyrics while we’d laugh. But all the while, inside my head, I was always focused on what came after breakfast.
My heart ached every time I kissed my dad good-bye. After he’d take us home I’d always be thinking that I wouldn’t get to see him again until the following weekend. From those thoughts would invite other thoughts to circle my head, such as trying to figure out ways to make my parents get back together, or more about ways to get my mother to allow my father to come back home.
I didn’t understand that it wasn’t my job to fix things because many times throughout the years, after my father dropped us off and my siblings jumped out of the car in a hurry to run out and play with their friends, I’d sit a bit longer with my dad, and then he’d usually ask me if I could help him to get Mommy to take him back.
My heart felt heavy as I took in his sadness, and I wanted to help make him feel better, even though I knew my meddling would undoubtedly get me another slap in the face.
But I summoned my courage and would try once again to approach my mother with curiosity and still, with hopefulness, to no avail.
I remember the mantra I used to chant in my head to overcome my anxieties every time I’d think of scary or uncomfortable situations, “Nothing bad will ever happen to me or my family.”
Things couldn’t have been further from those words of my chant. Many unhappy things happened to my family. But as long as I’d direct my mind to my positive mantra, I felt that in some superstitious sort of way, I could keep them at bay.
D.G. Kaye ©April 2015