A memoir that was really striking was The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. I found it very difficult to read because many of Jeanette’s experiences were raw, real, and far too familiar for me.
I chose this story from a list in college and completed a review assignment on it for my Human Behavior course. It was and has remained a beacon of hope for me. Not only because she survived and created a wonderful life for herself, but because she was able to share her story with so many people. I truly hope to be able to share mine like that, someday.
Jeanette lives a transient existence as a child, suffering due to the careless and ineffectual parenting of her flighty artist mother and mercurial father. His lofty plan to build a glass castle for them all to live in entrances her as a child, but develops into a symbol of disappointment.
Her strength and resolve lead her to a successful life doing what she loves. This has given me hope for many years. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.
As a mom, and a childhood trauma survivor, I find it very difficult at times to differentiate between when my child is being particularly difficult, and when I am personally struggling. It often looks and feels the same, but the response needs to be different.
This article voiced some of the reminders I have been giving myself while staying at home. I would add to the title so it would read “Why *you and* your child are being babies right now.”
I am reminded daily of my past. It crops up in little ways but sometimes hits me like… well, like a school bus.
As a service to families in our area during the pandemic shutdown, our local school district has been delivering meals for our kids. Every couple of days each of them receives a bag of breakfast foods, a bag of lunch foods, and a few cartons of milk and juice. We have appreciated it. It has helped us to shop less, relax more, and the kids have enjoyed both the delivery and the individually packed snacks that are unusual in our house.
Today, the system changed so that instead of volunteers, the bus drivers began to deliver the meals. It was a great way to ensure delivery to all students, and keep the bus drivers driving and paid.
I was very triggered by what happened.
The kids were all anxiously waiting in our window seat as we heard the beeping of a bus outside. We saw a school bus pull up outside our house and park. The driver got out, opened the door to reveal bagged lunches intended for kids, and checked his list. He then shut the door, drove the bus around our street for a few minutes, delivered meals across the street, and then left.
We are fine, we have food enough, and I’m sure it will get sorted. It was just crushing for me that the kids stood watching in anticipation and then watched the bus drive away.
Their disappointment was nothing compared to the memory that it triggered for me. They accepted my reassuring words that things would be sorted out. They trust me to make sure that they have food. Theirs was the mild disappointment of delayed surprises.
For me, there is very little that compares to the childhood trauma of being so very hungry and watching other people eat when I was a kid. Trained to never tell anyone I was hungry I would sit silently while I could see and smell food just feet from me. I sometimes watched people throw food away after taking only one bite. Like a trained dog, I would hold perfectly still and silent. That all came back as I watched the bus drive away today. I managed my own feelings by creating a meal for them from things we already had on hand, and by calling to have the mistake corrected. The transport dispatcher was very apologetic and promised the driver would be redirected to us as soon as he could. The kids didn’t even look up when I told them, they were fed and happy. I tried to take comfort from that.
We will be fine and I really don’t need anything, it was just a hard experience for me. It didn’t help that I hadn’t taken the time to eat breakfast, either.
Another piece of breaking the cycle is learning to take care of my needs before they are overdue.