I grew up with a lot of insecurities. I was a chubby child. I couldn’t buy ‘regular’ clothes. I had to wear ‘chubby’ sizes. And I wore glasses when that was not so commonplace. I was pointed at and stared at. I don’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t made fun of. My maiden name was Moffat, so I was called Mo Fat. Or four eyes. I learned early to withdraw into myself. Even after I married, I was not safe. I was stared at in public and once, a man driving by my house hollered out “hubba hubba” and he was not giving me a compliment.
I learned to watch others to see how people were supposed to act to be considered normal. I strived to blend into the background. When kids at school would pass by in the hall I automatically shrank to the wall to get out-of-the-way. I didn’t want to do anything to draw any more attention to myself than necessary. I learned to be very guarded and found it difficult to trust. I always felt like I was ‘on the outside looking in’. I never felt ‘normal’.
I learned that woman can be very judgemental. They judge on what you wear, how you fix your hair, and how you put on makeup. Home became my safe place, my sanctuary. And no one outside was really welcome there. I didn’t want to be judged on my furniture, the size of my house or whether it was clean enough. I was judged “out there” so home was my place of relaxation and safety. I could be me.
Growing up like this meant I didn’t have many friends. It was too hard to trust enough to let someone get close. As I got older, my sisters were my closest friends. To this day, I have a handful of friends who love me and care for me and pray for me, but I still find it difficult to let people in too close or trust with everything. I keep them at a distance. That means I lived without socializing with friends. And people judge wives on how your house is decorated or kept, so that meant I was never comfortable having company over. On the few times that I did, I would tell them, ‘don’t open that door, it’s a catch-all room’. Being ‘on display’ was never fun, but always a source of stress.
The drawback to living like that, is you end up at the end of your life with ‘work friends’ and ‘work acquaintances’. Work friends you usually confide in and share parts of your life with, share about family and frustrations and become fairly close. Many people can socialize with their work friends, but I never felt quite comfortable doing that. My home was separate and so was my home life. I grew up and lived being comfortable in my own company.
I can talk and share in writing or on Facebook and it is non threatening. I can offer comfort and compassion and prayers. Is that just the way it is these days? For some people, the ones like me, I suppose it is. But now that I am homebound and retired, I recognize I may not have anyone to remember me except my children. The older we get the more we lose our friends and acquaintances. I decorated wedding cakes for many couples for almost 30 years. Will any of those people even think of me? I worked in the background. Will what I did matter to anyone? What else do I have that stands out? What else have I accomplished? I used to sing in the choir at church. I was a cantor.
I make rosaries. I make jewelry. I have children. I have grandchildren who don’t really know me because they grew up far away. I have grown closer to my son in the past few years because of texting and phone calls. Long distance truck driving and living several states away fostered that. But it has developed into something precious and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. My daughter and I share a lot of interests. Her being forced into becoming a part-time caregiver generated a close friendship/relationship that continues to be something to cherish.
I look at my children and marvel. How did they grow into such impressive and responsible adults? They had a crazy and often depressed mother who was sometimes withdrawn from life. I made a lot of mistakes. I was not the poster mom of any year. How did they manage to turn out so well?
Despite these thoughts, I am content. I have my needs met and have my husband who has loved me for over 46 years. I am convinced he is a saint in disguise to have lived with me all these years and constantly pray my thanks for him. I have my 2 children and a sister and a brother. My mother is still alive and well at 90. I have beaten cervical cancer. I am a child of God and have the privilege of praying when I want. I am thankful.
The morale of this ramble? No matter where we came from, it helped to make us who we are today. And what we do with who and what we are is up to us. Take a little time to see outside of yourself. Experience laughter. Watch clouds. Listen to music. Enjoy the simple pleasures that make life worth living. And give thanks for all that you have. It’s a good life.