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By Patricia S. Crawford
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 Patricia S. Crawford
All rights reserved.
The storyteller: Destiny
I grew up in a home which consisted of two older brothers, a little sister, and me. Our mother passed away when I was just three years old, and my sister was only three months old. My oldest brother was seven, and my younger brother was five. Our father had a close family friend that worked with my mother. She lived in our basement and helped our dad raise us. She was like our live-in nanny. She became our auntie as time went on.
Our auntie would cook, clean, wash our clothes, do the dishes, comb my hair and my sister's hair, give us baths, and make sure we went to bed so that we got enough sleep for school the next day. She made life fun for us. She gave us the love that we would have gotten from our mother had she lived. Auntie was the mother that we never got the chance to know. If she never told us that she loved us, we could wake up every morning and look in her eyes and see the love that she had for us. Auntie saved the day, but this was a lot of responsibility to place on a woman with no children. Our dad knew that this was not our auntie's responsibility, nor could he continue to burden her with such a heavy load.
After a while, our dad decided that he needed companionship and some help with all these kids. Finally, he met this woman and decided to move her and her son into our home to help raise us. This woman and her son had settled into our home while her older son was off in the navy. Our father was about twenty years this woman's senior, so calling him a sugar daddy would be an understatement.
I don't remember how old I was when she first moved into our home, but I do know that I was very young, and I never felt comfortable with her being there. I always loved her son though. I considered him a brother, and when he would visit his family for the summers in South Jersey, I would miss him so very much. I couldn't wait to take that hour-and-a-half ride down the turnpike to pick him up and bring him back home, where he belonged. I don't know if it was because he would stop his mom from picking on me or because I genuinely loved him or what. I'm just kidding. I really loved him. He was the best part of her. The only good thing that ever came from her was him.
The role that Joan Crawford played in the movie Mommy Dearest had nothing on my stepmother. We would come home from school and open the front door with the aroma of potatoes being cooked with onions and peppers seasons just right and steak smelling so good. I mean a feast prepared for a king. We would run upstairs to the bathroom to wash our hands to prepare for this delicious meal, only to hear her say, "No, I made this for my son. You all better make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is for my son." We would sit and watch him eat and feel like we were the children of the help.
Uhmmm, I could understand why she never liked me growing up because I got sick of her mess, so I began to speak up, while my siblings chose to stay quite. Heck, closed mouths don't get fed; and if mine don't get fed steak and potatoes with onions and peppers tomorrow after school, then her sons won't either. Believe that!
I decided to ask her why her son gets to eat steak and potatoes and we can't have any. She told me that that's her son, and he is the king, and he can have anything that he wants. Really! Okay, we'll see about that! Some time had passed, so I decided to talk to my father about the meal plan that she had the help on and the steak and potatoes dish that she had been preparing for the king. My father set her straight, and when it was all said and done, the real king had spoken. My father told her that he pays for the food that comes in that house and he buys more than enough for his kids to be able to eat steak and potatoes too; and since we are being mistreated, she is not allowed to purchase any more steak and bring it in the house for anyone to eat if his kids can't eat it as well.
Why did I go and tell my father. I know that when he left for work the next day, there will be a price to pay. Since my siblings played by her rules and kept their mouths closed, she decided to turn them against me. This would not just be while we were growing up. This would be a lifetime commitment of hers. She would not rest until my siblings hated me. When my sister was just a little girl, she would have her hit me in my face and tell me if I hit her back, she would beat me. She would allow my brothers to beat me up as well. I grew to hate my little sister, and every chance I got, I would abuse her.
My stepmother was this young party animal. The funny thing about her was that she was a closet freak as well. The respectable adults in the neighborhood thought that she was one of them, and my aunts and uncles thought that she was the model stepmom who stepped right in and filled our mom's shoes. She was so rotten that she made my teeth hurt. Mommy Dearest knew when to leave the house and just when to return home. She was just like Lucifer. You know his biggest defeat is making the world believe that he doesn't exist. Her biggest defeat was making everyone believe that she was the pure, angelic Christian trying to help our father raise his children. She was a wild card that drank, smoked weed, and on occasion did cocaine. When you do drugs with people that don't care who knows what they do at some point, they will tell who joins them from time to time. Party people have big mouths.
She wasn't a bar hopper unless she went home to hang out with her sisters. When she was in Newark, she was more of the house-party kind of a girl. You know what goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. Not always true when you are with men that like bragging rights. She would sit on the porch and act like she was babysitting us, and in the meantime she would be on the hunt for the party people in the neighborhood. You know what the party people in the neighborhood look like? These are the people who, during the day, liked to get into stuff. On our street, these people were the young adults not doing much with their lives at the moment, the meat man at Red Star Meat. She used to take her bra off for him while she shopped around the store.
I can remember one more man. I called him the grease monkey. He worked at the gas station around the corner from our house. Boy was that man a new kind of black. She liked to hang out with people that knew where to get stuff that she liked. She would hang out with my stepsister and my stepbrother. When we went Down South, my aunt would be her hanging buddy.
Mommy Dearest never fit in with my Christian aunts because they were real church ladies. They were respectable women that she would have to put on her sheep clothing whenever they came to visit. My aunts always treated her with respect, but if they knew half of the things that she was doing or the way that she was treating us, they would not tolerate it. Mommy Dearest's split personality allows her to be bicultural. She could make people believe what she wanted them to believe about her.
I don't know how normal our home was growing up. I chose to forget a lot of things that transpired due to some unhappy memories of my childhood. My sister and I did not have the greatest relationship growing up because of our age difference and the fact that we did not have a lot in common. My stepmom kept this barrier between me and my siblings, so I did not care to draw closer to them. My older brother was living a life of rebellion, and being lost seemed to have consumed him. My younger brother was in a rush to become an adult, so he left his childhood behind early on to take on the responsibility of becoming a husband and a father. My oldest sister by my mom was so wonderful but had so many problems that my dad was always trying to help her.
My brother by my father was always stopping by stealing from our house. We had siblings that we didn't even know we had by my dad. I was trying to understand why no one liked me and figuring out who I was. It left me afraid and confused. My future and my present were colliding, and I was living in fear at a very young age. I did not understand back then that people were already seeing where God was taking me.
One thing that life taught me as a child is to never treat someone's children poorly because they are not yours. My father was a good man, and things that she did to me when he was not home, I did not hold him accountable for. My father thought that having someone home when we got out of school would keep us from getting into trouble. My father would have never expected that we would be verbally, mentally, or physically abused in our own home by someone who he thought that he could trust.
I have had girlfriends who have mistreated their spouse's children. These women wanted the men minus the child, and I had always had a problem with that. When parents are separated and the children have to visit two different homes, the child should feel welcomed in both homes. Both households should feel primary or as equal as the other to the child. Coparenting should not affect the child in such a way that a child is mistreated by anyone, especially one of his/her own parents. I have experienced that as well. How can a child feel more loved by the stepparent than the parent?
There is no rule book to parenting, so we wing it. Why can't we sit down and create a rule book before the children get here? Why can't we sit down as coparents and discuss with the stepparents what we as the mother and the father expect out of one another? Why can't our children have the best out of four now that two have turned into four? Our number one job as a parent is to protect our children from harm and danger.
If your spouse is creating an unhealthy environment for your child in any kind of way, it is your job to protect your baby. The love that you have for your children must be greater than the love that you have for any man or woman. If a person can't love your child, they can't love you bottom line. There are many single parent homes these days. I would rather be single and create a safe environment than live with someone abusing my children in their own home.
My dad would leave the house at 5:30 a.m. By 5:31 a.m., I would hear his station wagon turning the corner. She would start dialing the telephone calling everybody in South Jersey, starting with her mother. And by the time her mother would pick up the phone, she would already have that joint lit with her first puff pulled. Yes, she was smoking that weed at 5:30 a.m. Let her tell it; she would say that it was for medicinal purposes only. She would sit on the phone and talk about how she does not love my dad, and her mom would convince her that it's not about love, that it's about the lifestyle that he affords her. Her mother was the type of woman that believed that a woman should be with a man out of convince. Love has nothing to do with happiness when it comes to a provider. If he can provide for you, then do what he tells you to do so that you and your children can stay comfortable.
Her mother was good to us, although she had ways that I did not agree with. Her mother never mistreated me or my siblings. Her mother was very strange, and her beliefs took me by storm. The things that she allowed to go on in her household were beyond believable. Her mother allowed her husband to have sex with her youngest daughter, and that just blew my mind. I guess that went along with the comfortable lifestyle that she wanted to live. Wonderful woman but weird!
I remember after we had become adults, my younger brother was so upset at something that a neighbor told him. When I had asked him what the neighbor said to him that upset him so much, he had said that the neighbor told him that he and another neighbor had slept with our stepmother. I said, "Boy, please, what is upsetting you so much? The fact that you didn't sleep with her or that he did sleep with her?" Everybody slept with her — the meat man, the gas station man, three of the neighbors — the list is endless. This is what she did when daddy was at work. Daddy was aware of her extracurricular activities. My brother was a little slow, so I gave him a hall pass because sometimes he was out to lunch during class.
I saw the real Mommy Dearest, and that is why I can forgive her for the way that she treated me growing up. She never liked me because of the love that my father showed me. My father wanted me to see what love from a man should look like, and he felt that his daughter's first love should be him. True love, real love from your father will make a woman reflect back when she meets a man. A woman can then easily recognize a wolf in sheep's clothing when she sees him. A woman will run like hell when she sees the unfamiliar. Mommy Dearest didn't wish well on my future, so she didn't want my father to train me up in the way that I should go. She was so hateful toward me that hatred and jealously would soon seep through her pores.
I remember starting high school my father felt that it was time that I learn how to cook, so he had asked her to teach me. Well, Mommy Dearest made such a fool out of me in the kitchen that I vowed to never go back into the kitchen again. What I didn't know at the time was that this was all in her plan. She didn't want me to know how to cook just in case my dad wanted to put her out. Time had passed, and my dad was getting sick of her and how she was mistreating his children. My dad called me one day and said not to eat anything that she cooks. He told me to meet him at the corner of the house and to bring my sister because he was coming to pick us up. My dad picks us up and takes us to one of our favorite diners. He tells us not to eat at the house anymore because Mommy Dearest is putting stuff in the food. He then tells us about his new girlfriend. He was not sure how we would take the news, but after we met her, we wanted him to put Mommy Dearest out and move her in.
My dad's side chick was wonderful, but the problem that my father had was that he had made the biggest mistake of his life, and that was after all these years he had married Mommy Dearest. They had been married about three years at this time. I told him that he should have never done that. His best friend told me that he married her under a name which was a nickname that they called him in high school, but I never looked into it. Knowing my daddy, it's true, so therefore they are not legally married. We all loved my dad's new girlfriend, and she treated us as equal as she treated her two boys. When she cooked steak and potatoes, we all ate steak and potatoes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were just for the help out back at her house.
Ms. Lady loved my dad with all her heart, and she loved us with all her heart. She was the mother that we needed in our life, and if I could've made a wish and blew out a candle and had things my way, Ms. Lady would have been my fairy-tale stepmother. I think about her to this day, and wherever she is, I wish her well.
When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he sent word to Ms. Lady that he didn't want to see her anymore because it is nothing that he could do for her. She was so heartbroken. She kept in touch with us for a long time after my father had passed. She came to see my sister off to the prom. She came to visit me when I had my son, and then she moved to the South with her sister, and we lost touch. My father was the most happiest when he was with Ms. Lady. I am not condoning his extramarital affair, but she bought him peace. Mommy Dearest was the babysitter that watched and made sure the kids made it home from school safe. Heck, after a while she wouldn't do dishes, wash clothes, or go grocery shopping. I had to do all that. She would only cook for her and her son, which was fine with us. Our young bodies would not have survived the poisoned meal anyway.
Later in life, I remembered that Mommy Dearest and her girlfriend used to take me to this place where this man would come out from behind this curtain, and then they would go back with this man. God finally revealed to me what was happening when she would take me to this place. Mommy Dearest was doing voodoo on me. She was cursing my life. She took a picture of me as a little girl and wrapped three black ribbons around it and buried it in the cemetery. When someone does that, it means that they are cursing your life, money, and love. I was a child when she did this. How can a person be so hateful toward a child? Growing up, I used to tell my friends that she was Lucifer's wife, and was I dead on?
What Mommy Dearest didn't realize was while working for the devil is that the plot that she was setting would never work because she could not curse what God had already blessed. Lady, I'm a child of a king. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. When you dabble in that witchcraft and wiccan you will curse generations of your own family.
As I got older, I continued to think that Mommy Dearest hated me because of my relationship with my father; but when I turned my life over to Christ, what he revealed to me was that she saw the calling on my life. The devil was using her as a living demon to try and stop the call that was placed on my life.
Excerpted from Sibling Rivalry by Patricia S. Crawford. Copyright © 2015 Patricia S. Crawford. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIn Loving Memory of My Brother Darryl Crawford Sr., ix,
Mommy Dearest, 1,
The Golden Child, 11,
Collateral Damage, 17,
Daddy's Namesake, 20,
The Prodigal Son, 25,
Before She Came Along, 32,
The Princess, 40,
I Had More Than Enough, 45,
It Was Her That Divided Us, 51,
The Awesome Will of God, 59,
I Dance to the Beat of My Own Drum, 62,
Your Own Blood, 67,
She Didn't Want Us, 75,
The Wicked Stepmom, 80,
The Favorite Child, 84,
A Testimony, 89,
A Memoir to Kharyi a.k.a. The Boy, 99,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book should be promoted for parents, because it focuses on bad parenting. It had little to say about ways that siblings could overcome problems between them. The book is a series of stories about bad parents. (There is one chapter in which the child is to blame for problems between siblings, not the parents.) The description says that it is therapeutic. I guess it was therapeutic to dump on the mothers and fathers, but to me the actions of the mothers and fathers were often criminal CHILD ABUSE, not bad parenting, and so disturbing that I had to skip those chapters. In short, this book describes how not to parent, not how to have good relationships with your siblings. It did not help me at all.
Loved it. A complete and accurate depiction of the way families contribute to sibling rivalry and the damage it causes.