Being a child who lacked the love and stability of a two parent family I have been looking to fill a hole inside of me for almost my entire life. Having had a small taste of what a happy family is and missing that when my own parents split up, taking care of my little brother and disobeying my mother at every opportunity to spend time with my dad regardless of right or wrong.
When my Mother found love again with a good, hard working and caring man, we moved into a house and had a father figure again. I was pretty fortunate that my stepfather was a kind and loving man. My mother let him be in charge, and if I wanted to do anything I had to ask Joe. Joe was my best friend. We talked and debated all the time. He had such a good heart. He was an old school Italian and I learned how to debate during our very first meeting when I was in third grade, and talk with my hands and we had a dog a beautiful white and brown husky, from a pup who used to listen to my pains and lick my many tears away.
Because of Joe, I was raised to be an individual, not follow the crowd and we enjoyed going to the flea markets and antique stores. It was still difficult though, being separated from my own father, who left the state and went to California and who seemed to forget that he had two children at home who loved and missed him.
When he did phone I was always happy to talk to him, yet, very sad at the same time. My "parents" used to make me feel bad and cry because I loved and missed my Dad. My brother was little and my mother loved him very much and still does. So does my father although my brother chooses not to have a relationship with our Dad and would gladly have not talked to him -- but he had me for a sister and I would orchestrate meetings between the two of them, seemingly coincidentally, yet it took much finesse and skill. Because of that and only because of that, my father spent some time with my brother and actually met his grandson, something that would not have happened otherwise.
When I was a teenager I ran away to Florida with my friend Lori, who came with me, after we skipped school for three days, calling ourselves out of school until on the third day the secretary said "Jennifer, I know it is you and I am calling your mother!" I freaked out, my mother had already been unsuccessfully trying to control and limit my activities. Not an easy task when someone had been left alone with their little brother in tow for a few years, going so far as to have me evaluated for being incorrigible, which I was not, just for her!
She involved the school and tests and even sent me to a shrink who told me during the third visit that he felt that I was talking to the wall - which I was, I knew his role and his goal! Who were they trying to fool! I do believe that was the final visit for me. Sure, I had issues, but I wasn't about to talk to someone who was working for the enemy!
I really loved my mother, yet I did not respect her for, although I know she had to work hard to afford an apartment and food for my brother and I on our own. She had her own issues and used to come home from work and go to her room until dinner and we all ate together every night after we moved in with Joe. She taught me how to drive and we did have very close periods of time together, but we clashed - too similar? Not sure there, I may look like her but I am not her and I never will. She cared more about her chihuahua than me, which was fine on some levels, but very painful on other levels. Looking at my faults instead of my victories. I will admit that I took business in school instead of college prep just to piss her off, a huge mistake as I was very intelligent and could have had the world by the tail if I so desired.
I knew I was screwed when I went home, so instead of going home Lori and I left one warm and bright Thursday November afternoon trying to find our way South with a bagful of pennies and a pack of cigarettes. We walked from Pittsfield to Stockbridge with no sense of direction and fortunately (or not,) a couple of guys I knew from my friend Laura rolled up on us and gave us a ride to the truck stop in New York State where we got our first ride out of town.
Most of our rides were from truckers and somehow we picked up this woman who lived on the road who accompanied us the rest of the way to Florida, well, to Georgia first after we got dumped off at a truck stop because of these dirty old men. You cannot walk out of Georgia truck stops, or hitch hike in that state and we were minor runaways. I drank my first cup of coffee in a truck stop and we found a ride with a Canadian truck driver who listened to very loud Country music all the way to Florida, where we parted ways and where Lori and I cleaned a parking lot for some food, having no money.
We had no idea where we were going or what we were going to do. Lori's Dad lived in a place called Christmas Tree and we phoned him. He drove an hour or so to come and get us and we stayed with he and his wife and the crocodile or alligator, I forget which - that lived in the backyard. The water smelled like sulfur and it was really strange and foreign to me.
After a couple of days we phoned the Runaway Hotline, although Lori's Dad said we could stay if we wanted, we thought our parents should at least know we were alive and well. Unbeknownst to us, Maggie, who was with us before we left and who knew what we were up to, let everyone at school know our plan. My mother was not amused at all and immediately arranged for our return via airplane - taking no chances that we would escape.
On the plane ride home, I told my friend that I would never go anywhere with her, which was whack because she went with me. Our lives both changed drastically when we returned. Lori found out news that rocked her world and my stepfather did not talk to me for more than a year. Let me tell you dinners at our house were very quiet after that. It was very difficult for me not to have Joe to talk to. He wouldn't listen, didn't yell and never did try to understand. My mother stopped trying to prove me incorrigible though.
While we were gone, my mother went through my room and everything I had written, and my real father went over to my friends house on Faulkner Place trying to find answers, almost punching Dion in the nose thinking he knew where I was. This was the third time I had run away by that point. Once to his house, the second time I hung out all night with Bixby keeping me company when he didn't even know me so I would be safe, hanging out in the doorway of the Baptist Church on Tyler Street all night, until Jadene let me stay at her house overnight the next night.
At that time, I spoke to my Grandmother Gallant and she asked me if I wanted to stay with she and my Pop. Feeling ashamed and too far gone (I smoked cigarettes and pot) by that point I declined. I know now that was a big mistake, one of the biggest of my life, but I didn't think they would love me if they knew how screwed up I was. And I truly regret avoiding my family thinking so poorly of myself and still struggling internally with that internal negative voice in my head.
I ended up in the hospital when I returned with PID, a disease which, according to my family doctor's intern left me unable to have children. After I recovered and returned home things eventually returned to normal (if one could ever call my life normal). I worked my job as waitress at Friendly's, went to school, cleaned the house and did my homework and cooked dinner and Joe began to talk to me again. All was well with the world, until it wasn't - which is the story of my life.
It turns out that I was able to have children though, something which I found out by accident a few years later, which is another story altogether. The point though, is that the void of love was filled by my children over the years and my primary goal in life was to raise and care for my children differently than my parents did, which I did. A job which I have seriously undertaken regardless of my age or experience.
What experience does a child who had two absent parents have? With the help of my stepfather I graduated high school, making up the 5 credits I needed to graduate. I continued working at my job and even attended college for a brief period (twice) finding it too difficult to give my usual 100% to everything and not satisfied that I was giving enough to my job, my education or my child.
I am very grateful for the love and support of my kind and stubborn stepfather. Having only to ask his permission to go out on a Friday night, which was usually granted as I worked hard and was a good Mom. Most single young mothers had no one to help them with their babies, and they would frequently disappear for days when they secured one.
My children are my family and my life. I will always be there for them anytime they need me regardless of how old they are or what the situation is. I have been blessed with three unique and loving children; loving in their own ways, as they are each individuals and express themselves differently.
They have made me laugh, they have made me cry! I have pulled my hair out and gone grey with worry a few times. When they were little they played a game called, "lets see how quick we can get Mom to flip her lid"! It usually took only a few minutes, as they were professionals! I would not change them for anything in the world, nor would I want any of them to change. I have raised three loving, strong and independent children who are so smart, the only thing I feel I have failed at is in them believing in themselves and their strengths and in knowing how to inspire them and motivate them to their potential.
I am not sure where I would be today without their love. We are not a conventional family by any means, but I did try to raise the most functional of dysfunctional families. I hope that they will overlook my failures and shortcomings after I am gone and realize how they each saved my life and made it worthwhile over the course of these 28 years.
As I have struggled with one of my sons being sick this week and I am tired and stressed as I cannot make him better, I have done all I can do, leaving it in the hands of professionals. I am pained by his pain, saddened by his sickness and hopeful that he will be alright in time. A heart can be too big and life can be difficult. I know that he knows that I am here for him and would never turn my back on him which in turn will give him the strength and desire to get better, something that I never got from my real parents, yet something that I remember despite the silence from my loving stepfather at times.