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“I’ll take care of you.” Those five simple words are eerily cryptic. They could mean ‘I care about you, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.’ Words from the soul, I guess. Or those neutral words could have a deeper and darker reason. They can be a subliminal warning to show you that you are not the one in charge. They are. Control is a deep scary addicting thing. Everybody wants it, needs it, and craves it. Sometimes they’ll lose anything just to get it.
“I’ll take care of you.” Once upon a time, my mother spoke those words to me with love. But days like those flew out the window once my mother lost her control.
There were times when I was treated like her princess. I would get lots of money, electronics, and toys. Things I didn't need but thought I wanted. But there was always a price for those toys. A bribe for the electronics. An unknown promise for the money. I would get what I wanted if I was her doll. Did what she asked when she asked. Dressed in a way that would please her. And never, never, ever speak to her in bad tongues. It was like watching someone else control my body while I was at the sidelines. I didn't want to believe that ghost was me.
You know how in movies the young girl's attitude changes with the flip of a switch, and she finds the courage to stand up to her very different mother? Sometimes it’s not always like that. I didn't flip my opinion of my mother in seconds, hours, or even days. It slowly knocked on my subconscious for weeks, and months.
There was popcorn everywhere on the floor, in between the couch cushions, and slightly sprinkled by the TV. The lights were dimmed to give the living room that light glow that was just right for movie night. Blankets floated over everyone’s relaxed bodies. My cousin lay limply on the ground with a pooh bear blanket snuggled into him. Did I mention that he was fourteen years old? He had snuggled closer into his blanket, snoring loudly. All of us were at the verge of dreamland, or at the vegetable state thanks to the TV.
The door slams open with BANG. We all jolt from our zombie like states and stared at the door. My mother’s hair was everywhere, and her eyes flashed. "What are you guys still doing up? It’s almost midnight!"
Big eyed and scared the kids bolted to my sister’s room. They've seen my mom like this before. I didn't think of it as cowardly then, and I still don't. I thought of it as smart.
"It’s the weekend, mom," I muttered quietly, looking at the popcorn covered floor.
She huffed, "It may be the weekend but those kids never, ever help out around the house and they're never home."
My anger flared. This was not true. The kids and I spent most of the day cleaning and doing house work, but once the work was done they went to play outside with more energy than an energizer bunny. "We did clean," I said, through gritted teeth.
Since I proposed a challenge, my mother turned to glare at me. "You know that’s not true!" she yelled, pacing the living room making me anxious. "Everyone in this house is lazy, including you, and I do all the work around here."
That's when we really started to argue. I was trying to tell her we were just watching TV, and yes we did clean that day, and no I'm not trying to make her life worse. Tears falling, I stared at the floor, for I was silently praying that I could disappear.
My brother came out of his room. His hair was tousled while his hands rubbed his eyes, and he softly spoke, “Why are you guys yelling?"
My mother told him her side of the story by making me sound like the bad guy. This is my entire fault. I should listen to my mother more often. I treat her like crap, etc.
He smirked, "They were just watching TV, being good kids. Why did you have to create drama?"
The fuse went out. My mother went to a dark and scary place as she screamed and threw anything she could at me such as blankets, popcorn, remotes, and even a shoe. Steam was coming out of her head. Scared out of my freaking mind, I ran to my room and locked the door. But that didn't block out screaming, the hollowness, or ice in her eyes. She pounded on my door trying to get the last word, I guess. The door started to creak loudly. Wide-eyed I picked up my shoes and looked for my favorite book, Angel Monster. After I put everything in my back-pack ten minutes later my brother helped me jump out my window telling me to go to Grandma Nora for the night. This is what I planned in the first place. Grams' house was my sanctuary, and a place where I could run from the hollow look in my mother’s eyes. In her heart.
I’m not sure if my Grams knew about the fights. Whenever I came to her house she would give me a hug and some juice then softly shove me to the back room while she made me rabbit stew in the middle of the night. I turned on the TV because I needed some sort of noise to distract my overwhelming thoughts flying in my head.
These fights were the start of many. My mother’s eyes were sharks, yet somehow loving. That's how life is sometimes, I guess. You confuse love with power. Then that power controls you. Like Spiderman 3. Yes, as corny as it sounds, my mother is fighting her own venom from within, but does she know it? Did she know that pain is something that I breathed, a blast of hot exhaust in my face every day? I usually couldn't defend myself in those fights. I knew you had to put one foot in front of the other, yet running in place is all I could do.
Day by day I overcame my fear of facing my mother, slowly. I started to become more independent. I earned my own money much to her displeasure. I did my chores before she even stepped foot into the house. And I never stayed in the house unless it was for sleep and even then that rarely happened. I did not want to rely on my mother for everything. It would just mean more bribes, prices, and unknown promises. I didn't want to go back to the hollowness. Not again.
I'm not saying that I hate my mother, or that I'm a saint but I do know that I view my mother with caution. Not knowing when the Shark may strike. The last words the Shark told me before she sent me off to boarding school were spoken quietly, almost lost in the warm wind that floated around my face.
“I’ll take care of you.”