Discovering my critical life event has been very difficult for me. It has required a lot of thought; it has required me to be introspective. It has made me think back to the defining time of my life, where I learned the most in order to make me the person I am now. And I do believe that it was my childhood, where I was required to grow up so fast, that has influenced me for the rest of my life.
I love my parents. This I must say first and foremost. They have been through hell and high water together, and although they are currently, supposedly, happily married to this day, there were many times in my childhood where I did not think they could be for much longer, or times when I secretly wished they would separate. My parents have always been a major part of my life, and a major reason for doing the things I did, and even still currently do. I do not wish to say that my parents have created my life for me, and I do not say that they are at all responsible for my poor life choices, but I would be so bold as to say that they had a major influence on my personality.
Let me set the scene. It was about 1997 when my family moved from Texas to the snow covered mountains of Park City. This is where most of my childhood takes place, in that beautiful resort town, that was full of secrets. My family moved to Park City to be closer to my grandparents, my mother’s parents, because their health was failing them. We moved to a little house in a neighborhood known as Eagle Ridge. 7954 Springshire Drive, that was my house. I have such bittersweet memories there. That house never felt like home to me, perhaps that is why I was not sad to leave that house behind when we eventually moved. It had too many bad memories for me. Too many times I hated going home. Too many times it scared me.
I was about eight. I had two little sisters, Steffany and Courtney, and another little sister coming not too far down the road. It was our little family of girls, plus Daddy. I loved it. My Mom would wake me up for school, sometimes make my breakfast, and then I would hop on the big yellow bus. Then after school, I would come home to my Mommy, and after homework, my sisters and I would play, play, play, until Daddy came home from work and we would eat dinner together. Then as the evening wore on, we would do the bedtime routine, and my parents would read us stories and tuck us in bed. All throughout our routines we were laughing and giggling, as only girls do, we were so happy. Maybe it was because I was oblivious; I was only eight after all.
Then in 1999, Daddy’s company that he worked for went bankrupt. Daddy didn’t have a job. Mommy didn’t have a job. We didn’t have an income, and Mommy had just had baby Lindsey. We started living off of our food storage in the basement. Dehydrated and canned foods became our life support, much to my displeasure. I still will never like those foods, and dehydrated milk was by far the worst. I knew money was tight, I had to quit piano, and we didn’t get book orders anymore. Then one night, Mommy and Daddy told me that they had decided that they were going to try to start a business together. I thought it was a great idea! I had no idea how hard it would be.
They started off trying multiple different things, but they eventually landed on a scrapbook store and a retail product. This is what they wanted to do for a job. Together my parents became the president and vice president of “GoneScrappin’ Inc.” and the designers and creators of “Scrap Pagerz Alphabet Templates.” Oh how that store is another bittersweet memory for me. Sometimes it seems so long ago, like a part of a whole different life.
We started out right in my living room, dining room, and a room down in our basement. They put up big warehouse shelves, and paper racks and they were covered with products of what seemed like hundreds of companies, even though it was only probably a dozen. And in the basement we had a laser and a smell of burnt plastic as we cut out and packaged the alphabet templates one by one. They put GoneScrappin’ online and we sold our Pagerz, and we got orders from around the nation, sometimes even from around the world. People heard of our scrapbook store at our house, and they would sometimes even come to our house and shop. That always seemed so strange to me. Perhaps it was because of our neighbors would come shop that we decided to move the store, move it so it could really flourish as a retail store and not just online.
So, we moved the store. Finally our house looked like a real home again, with the exception of the laser in the basement. Mom soon spent much more of her time at “the store," as we began to refer to it, and Dad spent much more time in the basement with the laser and the computer and the door closed. We lost our routine. There was never a set time for anything, because the world revolved around “the store” and getting all the orders out, and getting them out to the post office, and whether or not we had enough templates, it seemed like my sisters and I took a back seat to the obvious success of my parents’ business. Especially during the summer, my parents would take our store to trade shows in order to get it better known, and so they’d be gone for days and days at a time, off to Chicago, or California, or Texas, and leave us behind with relatives.
So we spent more time together, me and my sisters. Little Lindsey Lou was only a young toddler when my parents became so engrossed with their businesses. So I was always the babysitter. From the time I would come home from school, to often times when it was time for bed. I was eleven, and I was acting as the parents. I would do my homework, make sure my sisters got their homework done, I would make dinner, usually something easy and along the lines of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, and then we would play and watch TV, til bedtime. Then I’d get my littlest sisters in their jammies, brush their teeth, read them stories, then have them be in bed, and then I’d go to bed myself. It became my routine.
This went on for quite some time. Me being the parents to my sisters. It got to the point where my littlest sister grew to recognize me as the one to come to for comfort. She would not come crying to Mom, but she would come crying to me, calling me “Mommy”, because I was the one who was there for her. I was not going to lie, I secretly enjoyed that Lindsey recognized me as her primary care-taker. And every time she would call me Mommy, I would tell her I wasn’t, but only half heartedly. I knew it bothered my Mom. Yet I took pleasure in that. “Serves her right. She’s never here.” Those were my exact thoughts. How sad for an eleven year old to be feeling so vindictive.
The businesses brought much contention home. Since my parents were each others co-workers, they could never just leave things at the office, they could never just argue at “work” and then be fine at home. No, that’s not how it worked. The disputes came home, sometimes in full sight of all of us. And then my Mommy would be crying and sobbing and yelling, and yell to me as I stare at her wide-eyed “NEVER get married!”
Mom would sometimes vent to me, tell me secrets, and the awful things Daddy would do and say to her. I didn’t need to hear that. I didn’t need to know. I didn’t want to know. I wished I could be oblivious. But how could I? How could I when my parents couldn’t manage to hide their struggles and pains from me?
Sometimes they would wait until late at night and fight in the basement, where “nobody could hear them.” They forgot my room was down there. They didn’t know I could hear every word. They didn’t know I heard them fight about the business, their marriage, their parenting, their sex life, everything. They didn’t know I’d spend my night crying in bed. Crying, and wishing that things could be different, wanting them to just be happy, and if it meant divorce, at least the late night fight sessions would go away.
They would sometimes leave. Both would run home to their parents at times, for days. And my little sisters and I couldn’t get a hold of them, we’d call and we’d call, but they wouldn’t answer. Eventually they would come back though. And we would just pretend everything was ok, again.
When Daddy had to replace a door because of a shoe that Mommy had thrown at him, I knew things were getting dangerous. I couldn’t handle it. I was scared. So so scared. Where could I go though? I went to a school counselor. In the 7thgrade. Nobody goes to the school counselor then. My friends would ask questions. I couldn’t answer. Nobody wants to hear about your parents lives.
On my parents’ anniversary, I had talked to my counselor earlier that day, and I was feeling better, until I got home. The house was spotless. And Mom was sitting on the coffee table in the living room. She sat me down on the couch, and told me that Daddy had packed his bags. Daddy had left us. Daddy wasn’t coming back. And Mommy said it was right. Mommy said she felt better already. I didn’t. I sobbed all day and all night long. Until late that night Daddy came home. He couldn’t find a cheap enough hotel I came to find out. I didn’t care. My Daddy was home.
Depression took over our house. My Daddy was seriously depressed, but he wouldn’t admit it, and he would get angry if we suggested he was. He spent all his time in the basement, in the dark, with the computer, and the laser. He lost all motivation for anything. He wouldn’t DO anything. He was angry and tired and mean all the time, and I couldn’t help him. Mommy was depressed because of my Daddy. Mom was doing everything. She tried to be the single parent and the breadwinner at the same time, while my Dad wasted away in the basement.
Little girls shouldn’t have to worry about things like this. Little girls shouldn’t know half the things I knew. My parents always said I was “mature for my age” but I can’t help but think that I wasn’t mature by choice, but because they gave me mature things that I had to deal with at such an early age.
Ever since, I’ve been “mature for my age”. As I grew into teenage hood, I believed I knew so much more than I did. I tried so hard to grow up even more, I acted out ridiculously since I was so “mature” I could handle it. I couldn’t. It broke me. And I’m just now figuring out that I’m not really as mature as I act. Inside I’m still a little girl crying. I’m still not ready for the grown up “mature” parts of life. I’m not ready to deal with the things that adults deal with. Now is my time for being selfish. Now is my time to figure out who I am. Now is when I will mature at my own rate.