Moonlight on the Linoleum by Terry Helwig
Terry was the first-born child of a very young mother. She was still a teenager. She had been married when she was fourteen. Other children followed. Her mother divorced her father and soon found another husband, who seemed to worship the ground she walked on. This did not stop Terry’s mother from going on escapades. Strange men were always coming in and out of the room while the man Terry called Daddy was away.
Terry’s mother left her and her sister with her father and his parents for a couple of years, but came back to get them, especially when Terry told her mother all about how her Dad’s girlfriend would spank them. Terry’s mother had more babies and more boyfriends. Terry and her sisters were often left on their own when their mother went out. She spent a lot of time in bars.
There were times that her mother decided she wanted to leave her husband, so she did. The family didn’t always end up in the best situations. There were pills. There wasn’t a whole lot of food. Ultimately, Terry ended up living away from her mother when she was still a teenager, but things fell to Terry to take care of. There were younger siblings who needed someone there. Terry’s mother was always who she was and while she improved for short periods of time, she never changed entirely.
What I liked
As we have established, I like memoirs. I like reading about other people’s lives. Terry’s growing up time made her tough and independent, but it’s also sad. If you can’t depend on your mother, there’s really no one to depend on. I liked that Terry and her siblings did not seem to fall apart after all of this. They still stay in contact with one another. They haven’t all tried to forget the bad things in their pasts.
What I didn’t like
Look, really, if you can’t depend on your mother, who are you supposed to depend on? There’s no one. Your mother is supposed to be that one person you can depend on, who will protect you, and advocate for you. That’s how it’s supposed to work, but those of us with less than optimal mothering situations, will know otherwise. My mom, I can depend on her for some things. She’s not my advocate. Growing up was certainly very difficult, in many instances because of the bad choices my mother made. My mom’s choices weren’t great, but they weren’t the same kind of choices that Terry’s mother made. Terry didn’t have a great growing up experience, because of her mother. There is no one else to point a finger at in this situation.
It’s stories like this one that make me question if some people ever need to have children. If you’re going to be a crap parent, maybe don’t have kids, then they won’t have to suffer because of your bad decisions. There are plenty of people these days, who know they wouldn’t be good parents and they have chosen not to have children; it seems pretty simple.
I’m glad Terry was able to be a human being after this.
Knowing that you can’t change anything, do you think your life would be better if poor choices had not been made by your mother or father?
If your parents have made poor choices that adversely affected you growing up, have you forgiven those poor choices, or merely excused them because your parents are your family?