I had an epiphany today. Several, actually.
As I drove down Dudley Street, I saw my mother, wearing a brown jacket and brown hat. Rage flared in me. I can’t do what my mother did to me and my siblings. I can’t do it! I really can’t wait for Porshai and Danny to go away to college. “Why?” Ellen asked. (Here comes an “ah-ha” moment.) Because I want to enjoy life.
I have been taking care of my daughter since I was 17. For 14 years I have been a parent. I didn’t have the opportunity to be a teenager. I have been an adult too long. I was an adult at 11. I worried about the bills being paid. I remember sitting on the curb outside of our West Concord Street apartment on a hot summer day, waiting for the mailman, because I knew if I didn’t get the welfare check before my mother did, we wouldn’t have food. I want to be free of worrying and caring for others for a little while.
This “ah-ha” moment reminded me of something I read in a research book on youth development: “Some fighting, use of alcohol, and sexual experimentation are normative during adolescence. However, any sustained involvement in these behaviors, particularly the more serious forms, carries a high probability of disrupting a conventional course of development. Becoming a teenage mother or dropping out of school involves a disruption in the normal developmental process and a higher chance that the developmental task of adolescence will not be completed successfully.” How about that? Interesting. I am not selfish. I just never had the chance to grow up.
Then I had another “ah ha.” My husband and I have been together since we were 14 years old, premature and naïve about our own selves. Parents at 17. And sidetracked from life’s natural course of development.
Then I had another “ah ha.” A shocking and frightening one. I don’t know my husband.