My Brother/ My Son… part 2

My Brother, My Son…part 2

As I wrote about my initial experience of becoming the primary care giver for my brother I thought about how natural the sense of responsibility came to me. I think that’s supposed to happen when you give birth not at ten years old.

I thought about that and realized I had been the adult in the relationship with my mother for as long as I could remember. It was just instinctual. By the age of ten I knew that maternal instinct isn’t given to you just because you gave birth.

Creation is done by all species and if you watch Animal Planet you’ll see that even in the wild there are mothers who reject their young. The problem is the child always thinks it’s their fault. The innocent have to deal with the guilt. That must be why the first part of therapy usually begins… “Tell me about your mother.”

I’ve written about running away with my brother when I was twelve years old. Some people thought it was brave. Perhaps. For me it was simply the only option. I knew at twelve years old that my mother was unstable, narcissistic and irresponsible.

I never thought about why I always insured my brother had what he needed and she didn’t. I just did it. The problem is when you take over someone’s responsibilities they come to expect it. There’s no turning back.

I was smart enough to know I didn’t have the means to mother this child alone. I sought help from adults who were in a position to help me. I never thought about risk or recall any fear. What I remember was a determination to get away from an awful situation to someplace safe. Staying was the risk that scared me to death.

During the four months we were living with my brother’s aunt and uncle there were many trips to court. Those who knew the circumstances were trying to prove my mother unfit. Seemed a no brainer to me, but the kid never gets taken seriously. Even today. We lost.

On Memorial Day weekend the aunt and uncle were having a big family barbeque. From the street their house looked like a ranch style, but on either side were steps down and around to the back. There was a large room in what essentially was the basement that had a regular door. The yard was a huge field that went way back to the river.

I left the party and went upstairs to watch TV. All comfy on the couch until I looked out the front window and saw a police car. Then I saw the car behind it and panicked. It was my mother.

She’d gotten a court order and came to take us…where? I didn’t know and didn’t care. I ran like hell down the stairs screaming, “My mom’s here with the cops!” I grabbed my brother and locked myself in the basement room.

It took a very long time to talk me out. I realized I had to go but would live to fight another day. As I walked up the stairs along the side of the house she stood at the top triumphant. I looked at her and immediately knew she was pregnant. Four months pregnant to be exact.

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  1. Jotter Girl

    It really is all about the mother isn't it? One of my boys sadly reminded me yesterday that I wasn't his real mother. I can see his sadness over the loss of knowing his birth mother. I imagine that you experienced a similar loss when you came to realize that she wasn't the mom you wanted at the time. Children are so fragile and the mother child bond is so very important.

  2. countingducks

    You have so much in the way of character and guts. what you did at that age may have come out of desperation but it was outstanding as well. How you came out of all this in one piece is beyond me. I hope you're brother grew up to be as impressive as you

  3. Barbara Hammond

    I know of those stories Lee. It hasn't changed. Look at all the shit with the catholic church and how many lives ruined, but soooo many years to really do anything. It's never enough. There should be a licensing bureau for parenting!

  4. Barbara Hammond

    Coming out in one piece is something I try not to think about Peter. I obviously have many guardian angels to this very day.

  5. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living


    Is your mother alive? I can't remember. I am shocked how our upbringing (or lack of love) can stay with us forever. Amazing how you took charge at such a young age. You must be proud of what you did.

  6. Ellajaknell

    I know that it happens all the time but it's hard to understand that so many parents can hurt their own children so much.

  7. Sara

    It sounds like you were mature before your time. You are probably an old soul and just intrinsically recognized where your place was, and that was caring for your brother.

  8. Barbara Hammond

    As far as I know she's still alive. We haven't spoken in over 20 yrs. I'm enjoying the quiet.
    I don't know that I feel proud of what I did. It came out of self preservation and love of my brother. As for our upbringing staying with us forever… I guess it has. I've always tried to be the opposite of my mother, so it usually is top of mind.

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