"A mother has the moral and legal obligation to shield her children from abuse." -Virginia Knowles, "Five Things Homeschool Moms Should Know About Abusive Marriages."
But what happens when your mom doesn't?
It's not exactly earth-shattering, because on some level I probably already knew this, kind of, sort of, but it still hit like a sack of ABeka Books when I realized she didn't protect us.
When dad would rage at us about something inconsequential or unfair, she didn't stand up to him and tell him to knock it off. She didn't even stand up to him when he did punish us for something we did do wrong, but went overboard with the punishment, like the rage-spanking of my brother.
She didn't reassure us that it was dad who was in the wrong. She defended him.
She defended him. "That's just the way he is." She defended that he jumps off the deep end and then moderates himself later on. And by "moderates," I mean that he usually buys stuff we didn't need and he can't afford, from Target. Stuff that he can then hold over our heads later, to guilt us into obeying unquestioningly.
She defended him when he disowned me instead of talking to me about what it was that he thought I did terribly wrong. I'd asked her why. "That's just the way he is."
She didn't help me when I was deeply depressed in high school. Instead, she threw me to dad, who devoured any remaining courage I had for seeking help. I still don't know how I didn't attempt suicide. Perhaps I was too devoted to trying to protect my siblings in any way I could.
When I started realizing that things were wrong, I took on the role of protector of the siblings. I couldn't always stand up to him, but I did in small ways as I could. And I would sneak into their rooms and reassure them. I would pull them into my lap as they sobbed, rubbed their backs, and tell them I loved them. I would tell them that dad was not being nice. That they did the right things. That they shouldn't be in trouble.
My mom didn't.
My mom failed at being a mother in those times. She felt like she had to obey her husband such that she allowed us to be abused.
She allowed us to get hurt. She enabled him.
Holding my daughter, seeing the love and trust in her eyes, I cannot understand how my mom could allow my dad to do that to us.
I fucking cannot comprehend that. Shouldn't the maternal instincts kick in? She had them when I was younger. Or maybe time has rewritten those memories to make them more pleasant, and maybe she was the exact same way when I was little. I don't know.
If someone raged to my daughter the way my father did to me and my siblings...God, I just hope there are no heavy objects nearby.
It took me almost 2 Mother's Days to realize my mom failed at mothering. Yet my own mom is going on almost 30 Mother's Days without that same realization.
It's painful. It's like I'm grieving the mother I thought I had, but never did.
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