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The Object of My Desires

June 6, 2008

 

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode . I hope you will join me and share a Slice of your Life. I am playing catch up this week and have two slices to share.The first is a response to the prompt: The Green-Eyed Monster: Jealousy and the second is to the prompt of My Greatest Loss.

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.     

                                                                                                                        ~Harold Coffin

 

 

I think it would be extremely rare to find someone who has never experienced a pang of envy. As teenagers, even those blessed to be a member of the “in crowd” surely came up against someone with better hair, prettier clothes, cooler parents, or clearer skin. As adults, we deal with others having bigger houses, better behaved children, and more attentive husbands. I believe envy is a natural part of growing up. Unlike its counterpart of jealousy, envy is simply a longing for what someone has but does not wish ill will towards the person. Jealousy on the other hand can be, and is most often, a form of evil leading the jealous one down a path of destruction for both themselves and the object of their jealousy.  I feel fortunate that I have only dealt with jealousy a very few times. Envy, however, has been a constant companion throughout much of my life.

 

My first feeling of envy came during the summer I turned six. Our family had always lived in the country and my playmates were my siblings and cousins. We all lived the same lifestyle and had the same things, so there was no reason to be envious of each other. We had a fire in our home early that summer and had to move into a neighboring town for a few months until the home was repaired.  Living next door to our temporary quarters was Sarah. Although she was two years older than me, and despite both of us being burdened with a painful shyness, we became instant friends.

 

We played everyday together, sometimes outside in her sandbox and on her swingset, and sometimes inside in her bedroom. I had never seen a dollhouse before, and Sarah had one of the best, better than any I have ever seen since. We would play for hours moving the people around through the rooms, making the little beds, setting the dining room table, and redecorating with pictures we cut out of magazines.  Sarah also introduced me to paper dolls. How I loved changing the outfits on those little cardboard cutout dolls.  As much fun as that was, my favorite was the tin Colonial doll house. I  so wanted a doll house with furniture and had asked my parents if I could have one for my birthday. Of course the answer was no due to the expense, so I asked for a set of paper dolls instead. I received the famous “maybe” which translated into probably not.  So I had to be content with playing with Sarah’s prize possessions that summer, knowing I would be moving away and would most likely never have another opportunity to play with a doll house, or paper dolls again. I was not jealous of Sarah and her toys. She was such a nice friend. We could talk for hours and she was my first “best friend.” But, I was envious of what she had. On our last day living in town, Sarah and her mom came over to help us pack. We cried when I had to get into the car because we both knew we would probably never see each other again. When I unpacked my box of things that night, I discovered Sarah had hidden one of the paper dolls with two outfits of clothes in the bottom under my pajamas. Over the next year, I made more outfits for the paper doll I named Sarah. Although we never saw each other again, I never forgot Sarah or her friendship. I still have the paper doll and the “colorful” dresses I made for it when I was six.

 

As I reflect on my life, I can see why envy was more a part of my life than jealousy. The psychology experts say a person feels envy towards something when they themselves do not feel adequate or worthy of the object they desire.  Those who allow jealousy to rule their life feel they are not only deserving but are entitled to their object of desire and will go to any length to obtain it. I thank God that I mostly counted the blessings of others throughout my life until I gained enough self-esteem to start counting my own.

 

 

The Loss of a Mother’s Love

 

“Children begin by loving their parents. As they grow older, they judge them.

Sometimes they forgive them.”

                                                               Author Unknown

 

One of the hardest things to deal with in life is loss. We have all suffered the loss of a dear friend, or a beloved relative, or even the passing of pet that was a member of the family. As hard as any of these have been throughout my life, the most difficult loss I have ever had to endure was the loss of my mother’s love. Although, now that I have said that, I wonder if it is possible to lose something I never truly had. But the loss was there never the less.

 

For most of my life I tried to figure out what I did that created such an animosity in my mother towards me. Even as a small child I felt the distance between us. My older sister received many hugs and words of praise, but I never got one. It seemed to me, Toupey could do no wrong and I could do no right. My saving grace was the addition of my younger sister and brother. Now I was just ignored, as if my presence was not seen, which was better than being ridiculed, chastised, and whipped. I was in my early teens before I discovered what it was that I had done that was so unforgivable and undeserving of love . . . I had been born.

 

Just before my thirteenth birthday, I overheard a conversation between my mother and my Aunt Fredie. Mom was reliving the pain of my birth. I say reliving because she never just remembered bad events in her life, she relived them. Anyone listening to one of her accounts, one soon realized she was indeed feeling the pain all over again. It seems the labor preceding my birth was “ten times the pain of the other four put together.” Then of course, my birth was “ten times the pain of the other four put together.” This was due to my being a breach birth. And if all her suffering hadn’t been enough, I was a girl baby and not the boy she so desperately wanted. She was so distraught after my birth she refused to give me a name. She had selected a name for her son but never considered the possibility a girl child could appear. Since Raymond Richard wasn’t appropriate for a brown-eyed curly headed little girl, my dad named me after a favorite aunt and an old girlfriend. As with family tradition, my given name was soon changed to Cricket by an uncle. I find it odd that my entire family used my nickname but my mother always called me Evelyn. I am sure Freud would have an analysis for that, but I think it was her way of telling me I wasn’t accepted into “her” family.

 

Despite my mother’s lack of affection, I tried very hard to make her proud of me. I studied more hours than any of my friends so I would have a report card with all A’s. My grades were never acknowledged until I was in the seventh grade and brought home a report card with five A’s and one B. Then I was punished by not being allowed to attend the Valentine’s Day dance, although to be honest I think this was an excuse to not allow me to go to the dance because my older sister didn’t want to go. I was chastised for being selected to be a cheerleader and my mother never attended one game. Several years later, I was voted to be the Junior Homecoming Attendant by my class, with no words of praise from my mother. She was actually upset about my honor because “we can’t afford to buy you special clothes for such a silly thing.” I needed a suit for the Homecoming game and a party dress for the dance. I was told I would have to borrow a suit from a friend but a dress would be purchased. Although our finances were supposedly limited, my mother was able to buy herself a suit when she purchased my dress for the dance.

 

For many years this bothered me. How dare she take away my happiness in being given such an honor by making me be embarrassed to borrow and wear a suit that was too big for me so she could buy herself a new suit, which she had no where to wear it to. She worked in a factory not an office. She did not go to church. To my knowledge, she wore the suit one time to a funeral then she gained too much weight and it didn’t fit. Yes, I was very angry with my mother over the suit incident and I no longer cared what she thought of me. Our relationship was strained through the rest of her life.

 

My mother died eleven years ago due to a complication from medicine she needed to take following a stroke and heart surgery. She was actually doing very well after the surgery but suddenly developed bleeding on the brain and slipped into a comma. The doctors said she would not live more than two days. My siblings and I set a schedule so one of us would be with her at all times as she laid comatose in the hospital bed. My mother’s greatest fear was to die alone. Even though the doctor said she would not know if anyone was there, we, mostly me, didn’t want her to be alone. My older sister took the first four-hour shift and I was to follow with the next eight. When I arrived, right on the scheduled time, my sister was gone. The nurse said she was there about an hour or so but had to go home because it was too hard for her. I brought photo albums and shared them with mom as she lie sleeping. I talked about different family reunions and the births of her grandchildren. Shortly before her shift was to begin, my younger sister called and cancelled so I stayed through her shift. After my sitting with mom for sixteen hours, my brother called to say he would not be able to come that evening but he would bring dad in the next morning at nine o’clock. I stayed another four hours and called my younger sister to see if she could come and sit with mom. She said she would be there in a few minutes and I could go on home. Before I left, I held mom’s hand and apologized for not being the child she wanted. I kissed her cheek and left. My sister never made it to the hospital after I left. Mom died a few minutes before my brother and dad walked into the room. She died alone.

 

I was angry with my mother for many years because she gave me no love. I didn’t deserve to be treated the way she treated me. But now as I walk through the dark rooms of my past the light is better. I can see my mother’s lack of love for me may have started due to the pain and disappointment of my birth but that soon turned into a jealousy of me. The more she ignored me, the more my dad loved me. Although he was not one for hugs or kisses, he always praised my grades. He secretly came to one of the basketball games so he could watch me cheer. He made sure all our relatives knew of my being selected as Homecoming Attendant so they could come and watch me ride on the float during the Antique Festival Parade. He came to the Homecoming Game with one of my uncle’s to see me be escorted across the football field by the captain of the team. And he told me I looked “very pretty in that dress” when I was leaving for the Homecoming dance. Yes, I was daddy’s little girl and my mother hated me for it, and she took every opportunity to hurt me. Although she showered my two sisters and brother with affection throughout their lives, in the end it was me, the child she never wanted who sat at her bedside for more than twenty hours. The greatest loss in my life was my mother’s love, a love I never had. But then I think, the greatest loss in my mother’s life was the relationship we could have had. Despite all she had done to me, or did not do, I loved her. And I miss her.

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2008 1:00 pm

    Contrast
    I smiled at the paper dolls (we cut out models in the sears magazine and glued them to box cardboard and made clothes for ours…lol)
    I cried at the loss of your mother and the pain
    HUGS
    my post isn’t up yet, still pondering

    ~~ Thank you Jen for the greatest compliment every writer hopes to hear -evoking smiles and tears from their readers. Cricket

  2. June 8, 2008 10:50 pm

    Cricket, that was the saddest story about you and your Mom. I can just feel your pain. Maybe it was meant for you to not be there when she passed away. I was the baby of my family and was born while my parents were still feeling the effects of the great depression. I never really felt loved either by my Mom nor my Dad although deep down I knew they loved me by the way they provided for me. Like you, in the end I was the one who proved to be the biggest blessing to my parents as I was the one who catered to them and stood by them through thick and thin. Maybe I was like you in that I bent over backwards trying to win their approval and their show of outward love, which I never got. So, your story almost brought tears to my eyes as I could definitely feel your pain. Writing your story must have been very healing for you. At least I hope it was.

    Have a good week, Cricket

    ~~ Yes Betty, writing slices of my life has helped me more than I would have ever imagined. I have purposely put off writing about my mother because I was too bitter. But writing these past few months have helped me put things in perspective. I think you and I have much in common. We were both raised in “Walton-like” homes without the homespun love, or atleast the outward sho of it. Cricket

  3. June 15, 2008 9:24 pm

    I have a fractured relationship with both of my parents. It hurts when I see how close my friends are to their parents. I understand your pain, Cricket. It can be hard to come to terms with. When you mentioned that your mother’s greatest loss was her relationship with you I felt so sad for both of you. Thank you for sharing this.

    ~~You are so welcome Selma. I too envy friends who have close, loving relationships with their parents. I am sorry your relationship with your parents is a difficult one. I just praise God for giving me the time to build on the relationship with my dad. He is such an important part of my life. Cricket

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