I have two specific memories of a pivotal time during my childhood. I grew up in a home where we had home cooked meals every night. This was normal back in my day. We never had pop, sugared cereals, white bread, or the typical junk food. This was a time before fast food restaurants lined the streets and eating out was common place. My parents weren’t strict health nuts or anything, my mom just knew that certain foods were not all-together natural.
My dad was a big cereal fan so this was our usual breakfast growing up. We always had some variety of bran flakes, shredded wheat and granola. This may explain why I knew something was horribly wrong the day I saw a box of Froot Loops sticking out of the grocery bag my mom had brought home. I remember the feeling of panic, but I don’t remember if I asked her specifically why she had brought home this forbidden fruit. I do remember that it was the very same day she sat me down on the window seat in the family room to talk. She told me that her and my father were thinking of getting a divorce. This was very uncommon back then but I imagine the feeling is still the same for any child. I only remember crying, pleading, and feeling scared.
My mother never mentioned it again and I never asked. I always felt the detachment my mother had for my father. I always felt she would have rather been some place else. She was unhappy and I knew it, but she kept our family together. Years later, as I had grown into a young adult, she told me she would not leave my dad until after he received his retirement. She felt she was somehow owed this for her time and suffering. However, by that time she felt too old to start life over. It took over ten years later for her to decide it was time to live her life as she wants to live it. She is now leaving my father (I talk more about this in another post, Grow old along with me?)
For a long time I carried a certain amount of guilt, thinking that I was the reason my mother stayed. I have also carried a great sadness because it made me feel unwanted. Perhaps, I was the cause. Perhaps, my reaction on that fateful day was the deciding factor on how my mother was to spend her next 30 years. Ultimately, it was her decision and I can not take responsibility for it. My mother did teach me something however. She taught me that I never want to live the life she lived. Unfortunately, I have somehow landed in her footsteps.
On a lighter note, maybe the real lesson to be learned here is never try to bribe a child with Froot Loops.