We could have been sisters. We probably should have been. I have heard many times that when a person dies, their soul will find familial souls again. Meaning that we could have been sisters in the past, we could have been cousins or best friends, or any sort of connection in the past but in the present we are mother and daughter. I am the mother. She is the daughter. Even though we could be nursing home roommates because our ages are not that far apart. 18 years to be exact. I was pregnant at 17 but was 18 before she was born. 18 years is not a lot. I have friends that are more than 18 years older or younger than me. Wait, younger? Yes, I guess so. Maybe not 18 exactly but close enough. It was close enough that sometimes being her parent felt like a reach. It felt like a leap. There were times when I think that it was ridiculous that anyone put me in charge of raising this little human. How could I possibly know the first thing about raising a reasonable and responsible adult? News flash… I didn’t. Clearly.
When she was younger I rarely had anyone ask me if I was her sister. Instead, they would ask if I was the babysitter. I got that a lot. Many people wouldn’t believe me when I said that I was the mother. Sometimes that would be condescending and annoying but as I got older, I loved it. I still love it. I love for others to say that I look young but the feeling that I don’t live up to older parents expectations has never really left me. My age has always made me question my parenting. Now that I am older I see how my own self-doubt was the problem, not the age. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. Essentially, we all just do the best we can using experience, our own childhood and education to help parent our children into better people than we are. Isn’t that every parent’s quest? For their children to be better, do better and live better than them?
Currently, we are moving. Long story short, outgrew current house and crazy grandmother coming to live with me equals need for bigger space. Like anyone undergoing a giant move, I have started digging through boxes of crap to weed out shit we actually need versus crap we will never ever need and should have thrown out eons ago. I recently found my kids time capsules. What a ride down memory lane that has been. The teeny tiny diapers, and shoes, and first pieces of artwork. And the pictures! Pictures can be so visceral. Pictures of me with the kids in the park, JoDee in a baby carrier, Jay J in a Halloween costume, Jared on his first bike. The pictures bring me right back into those times and those moments. I can smell the Johnson’s baby shampoo from their little heads. In one of the pictures Jared was holding a sippy cup. That stupid cup reminded me of a time when our house was broken into. I remember that particular cup in that particular fashion because Jared was about 2 years old. He woke me up in the middle of the night by placing his lips directly on my ear and yelling “JUICE”. This was his loving way of saying he was thirsty. I won’t drag out the details but ultimately I went down to the kitchen to get him a drink only to run into an intruder in my living room. We tussled, we both fell, he tried to run and I threw the only thing in my hand at him which happened to be a sippy cup full of juice and water with a lid barely on. The cup beamed him on the head, juice flew everywhere and we both froze in shock. End result was he ran out the slider, I ran up to the bedroom and locked all the kids in one room with me until the police came. Looking at a picture of a baby Jared laying on the couch with a sippy cup brought up an array of emotions in just a few minutes: nostalgia from seeing him as a baby, fondness of the time when he was so little, and then fear from the time the house got broken into.
The same is true about pictures of JoDee. I see pictures when she was an innocent, little girl and I feel an array of emotions. I miss when she was that little. I have often said I was glad she was first. The first born is a special time because that child is the only one for a period of time. That child is the only baby, the only one needing of attention. And, that child is usually the first of all the firsts. It was special to me to have that time one on one with JoDee. She is my only daughter. We had a lot of good times in those first few years before the boys came along. Then, we had a lot of good times as a foursome. Well. That just sound wrong now doesn’t it? But you get my meaning.
The emotion I wasn’t really prepared for was sadness. I look at these pictures of JoDee and I see the potential she had for a great life. She was smart and pretty and she had an unbelievable effervescent which made her so, so loveable. The first 17 years of her life were absolutely filled with endless possibilities. The last 5 years of her life have been frozen in a freaking nightmare. Each month that this ridiculousness continued I saw more of her life circling the drain and the light behind her eyes became dimmer and dimmer. It is so hard to imagine that the beautiful girl in those elegant prom dresses was reduced to sleeping in the park or at some creepy old guy’s house stealing phone chargers from a store or gas for her car. This was the girl that really believed me when I told her that her tongue turned black when she lied. This was the girl that would take something from her brother’s and feel so guilty about it she would tattle on herself. She became a girl who overdosed on the regular and eventually did everything she always said she would never do in the name of drugs.
I found all of her school pictures. Those are epic. Some of them she is missing her teeth, in one her hair is blue because she pulled paint off of the kitchen table and I couldn’t get it all out of her blonde hair! Some of them she looks like a hobo because she insisted on picking out her own clothes and in some she looks like a perfect angel. A perfect, beautiful, doll-like angel. How did something so perfect get derailed so badly? I suppose that is the timeless question. We all start out in the world as perfect little angels. Environment, financial status, personal experience and many other factors play a role into which we become. Saints, serial killers, addicts, scientists, doctors, teachers, and all other people begin this world the same way. From the moment of our birth our lives begin to take shape. Bonding with our parents, being abandoned by our parents, going home to live in a mansion or to a homeless shelter all have parts in the equation. Even in the best environments and situations things still go wrong. That got me thinking.
I wondered if there were common traits in addict. For example, in 70% of serial killers a childhood head trauma was reported. There is a potential link between injuries in the frontal vortex to serial murder. Also, serial murders often reported bed-wetting until an unusual age (meaning past 5 years of age) and had common fantasies about controlling and demeaning others. The answer is I have no idea. I have no idea because the range of heroin addiction has expanded dramatically and all studies are no longer relevant. The most common age for heroin addiction specifically used to be between 44-64 in black males. Now the common age is 18-45 in white males though white females are catching up. In the course of my diligent research (i.e. my google search) I found that heroin and heroin related topics are one of the most googled searches. I also learned that there are politicians that believe that the heroin epidemic is directly associated with the moral decline in our youth. I found that laughable. I mean, it’s not the least bit judgmental or a horrible generalization about entire generation. Just what we should want in our politicians. All of that just for looking in a box of pictures…. Holy crap.
Look at these babies!
HaHa Just kidding!
What in the world was I thinking about with those eyebrows??? I can’t…. I cannot even.