America's Picture Perfect Family

April 1, 2011
My mother and father, both young and fresh out of high school, believed they would be together for a long time. They married on June 12, 1993, as my mother was carrying my brother. He was later born on August 3, 1993 and then I followed up, born on November 15, 1994. These dates began, as my mother always described us as, a picture-perfect American family, and we were happy. Complete and content in my little mind, although behind the reality stained curtains, we were falling apart quickly. As years went by, the strings of our family and my parents’ marriage wore thin and finally broke on November 13, 2002.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My father took me by my hand into my disco pink bedroom. Little and confused, I watched as he dug around for my suitcase and started to fill it with my belongings. I stared as he kept packing, and sat down next to him and helped. I looked over at him, but his eyes did not meet mine, but rather stared coldly down as his hands reached for the nearest items. “Dad, where are we going?” Without a response from his eyes, he lowly responded, “You and your brother are going away for awhile.” I’d no idea what he meant, but I said nothing more and continued to help my father. No more words were exchanged then, and next thing I knew, my mother threw our suitcases into the trunk of the car and she told us to get in. My dad stayed inside the house, without saying his goodbyes.

After that, we stayed with my mom’s father and his wife in their trailer in Mead. For weeks, the three of us were a burden to the couple, as we awkwardly shared a single room, crowded and lying on slabs of yellow foam that loosely resembled mattresses until we could muster up enough money for our own place. Broken and cold hearted, my brother and I couldn’t stand it when my mother would have seemingly random explosions within herself that allowed tears and weakness to break through. I had never seen this woman before. Always a strong person in my eyes who hated asking for help from anyone or showing anything that made her appear weak, was now a helpless broken doll curled up on the floor of our room. With our eyes on her, I do not remember crying with her, but I do remember my brother, matching his tears up with hers. I could only sit and watch as she let her heart go back to that man that used to be her husband; her soul mate. It was the worst pain my early years had ever felt and I couldn’t imagine what my mother was feeling. But after awhile, we were able to afford our own trailer, which was only a few trailers away from my mother’s father. On moving day, my father had come over to help out. He arrived with a U-Haul truck that held the rest of our belongings, such as our beds and other furniture pieces. Once the task was completed, my father approached my brother and I. Behind us, stood the tear-stained woman that used to be my father’s wife, and in front of us was that man. “So,” he awkwardly started, “who do you two want to live with?” My mind could hardly comprehend the question, but inwardly, I responded, “Mom.” My mouth dried up as I forced that single word out of my throat and I silently wondered if he knew what he was doing to us, and to my mother. I often wonder what he thought if he ever did see the doll I had seen and can never forget. I couldn’t quite tell if I felt like crying, or even what my heart was filled with. Anger, disappointment, sadness, emptiness…I let the word cut the air like a knife and I stared at the man with dry eyes. I took them off of him, and relocated them to my brother standing next to me. He let tears escape his eyes, and I honestly couldn’t understand why. Whether it be that I was too young to really understand what was going on to really feel anything, or maybe I did; I just didn’t let it hit me right then and there, I don’t know. He poured his eyes onto the ground, and through a crackling voice full of obvious hurt, he responded the same as I had. As I look back on that specific moment now, I feel like we both knew that we were siblings, and it would feel wrong to be separated. Like at the second before he made a solid decision to speak her name aloud, I had handed him the memory of seeing the doll with the cloth-like skin with tears streaming away from her eyes and every seam in her cloth body that had split each time that man would tell her to leave and that he didn’t love her anymore, to show him what she would be doing without us. It isn’t a guilt trip sort of thing, just the sore truth. And so, with slightly wet eyes, my father nodded and then away he went.

After that day, needless to say, our lives were never the same again. My mother continued to fall deeper into her loneliness and depression, absent mindedly trying to cure it all with oceans of alcohol and men, while my brother and I sat at home and tried our best to understand what she was feeling. On the weekends for a few years, we would go to our father’s apartment to visit him and the woman he had cheated on my mother with. I couldn’t stand looking at their drunken faces. Each weekend was a definite weekend in Hell itself, for me. And then one day in 2004, my mother brought home a solider from Fairhope, Alabama. He deserves no name, and he was a great deal younger than my mom, in his early 20s. No time after that, they decided to marry. No wedding, only a few witnesses, not even her children, but legal. The solider coaxed my mother, who had so much stress upon her shoulders and who wanted so badly to leave everyone and the shame of feeling the way she did behind, into moving us back to his hometown. Family members were frightened and did not want my brother and me to go, and so they convinced my father to file a lawsuit against my mother for child endangerment. False evidence, telephone calls to Child Protective Services and majorly false accusations were committed against the poor woman with the scars of a messy divorce and who was horrifyingly close to losing her children. Neither I nor my brother ever had to go to court to stand against one or the other parent or answer questions to prove my family’s case, which I am immensely thankful for. My mother won the case and got to keep her little children, and so we left and didn’t come back for awhile. My mother divorced the solider in 2006 and we then relocated to Lynchburg, VA with her new boyfriend. We eventually moved back to Spokane in January of 2010.

Since the demise of my parents’ marriage and our picture-perfect American family, the three of us have experienced countless struggles, but I can’t imagine us having a much better life with my father. I guess when I think about it, they weren’t meant to be forever, and they had a lot of growing up to do. From having a new stepdad and moving away from my family and the only father I’ll ever have, to a second divorce for my mother and moving to Virginia, we’ve learned and experienced a lot. Our family has had its share of destruction, and even now, living back in Spokane and reunited with my family and my father, we’re still learning and getting through obstacles. We’ll never be complete, and never anywhere near perfect, but I can’t ever imagine my life if the divorce had never happened, if I hadn’t met the people I did when we moved around, if I hadn’t been able to see the things I’ve seen and learn the things I’ve learned, and if I was forced to live with parents who were full of anger towards each other.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback