I get a phone call at 10pm. My mom. She’s grabbing some tequila and heading out to the porch. She tells me she doesn’t want me to be upset but her and my dad are separating, again. I’m not upset mom, this is the fifth time y’all have separated. She starts to cry to me about how she feels bad but she doesn’t want to care for other people anymore. I can relate to that….but I don’t give up on people I love. Maybe my perseverance comes from watching her and my dad give up on everyone and everything throughout my life. Maybe my strength and maternal instincts comes from watching them abandon my siblings while they deal with their own shit.
The first separation- I’m seven, my sister is five, my brother is three. They tell me they are separating and my dad is moving out. They say we will still do holidays together. They say my dad is moving in with my aunt….not his mistress turned girlfriend like I find out a few days later. My mom is depressed over the separation, over the affair. She lays on the couch for a month and doesn’t get up. I don’t yet know how to ask for help from another adult. I wake up my siblings in the morning, get them dressed, make them breakfast and lunch, get them on the bus to school, make dinner, beg my mom to get up, tuck them into bed, give them a kiss goodnight, and then repeat this cycle for several weeks. Finally someone realizes what is going on, my mom is hospitalized, my dad moves back in. She comes home. They get back together.
Round two- I’m thirteen, my sister is nine, my brother is seven. They tell me they are separating, they tell me my mom and us kids are moving into her friends house down the street, my mom isn’t allowed to give up on us this time. My siblings are excited to move in with their friends, they grew up together. My mom’s friend throws a party, my sister sees my mom kissing another man, she thinks my mom is the reason for the separation, she had an affair. How do I tell her it was my dad, she doesn’t know about this affair…or the last one. I continue to emotionally and physically support my siblings. My mom probes me about life at my dads house, is it clean, how is he acting, does he have any women visitors? I actually like being with my dad more. He doesn’t probe me. They figure their shit out in counseling. They get back together.
Round three- I’m sixteen, my sister is twelve, my brother is ten. I come home from a track meet, tell my mom I had the best night ever, I set two school records, I won every race, I had so much fun with my friends and my boyfriend. She hands me a glass of wine, she tells me good for you but she had the worst night ever. Someone called her from my dads work, tells her that he is having an affair with his coworker. She dug through his emails and found out it was true. They are separating. She told him not to come home. She hands me a shot as she sobs into her wine glass. I ask my boyfriend to come over because I am sad too. How could my dad be so dumb to do this again. How can my mom be so dumb to keep going back to him. My boyfriend spends the night with me for the next few weeks, my mom doesn’t care that he is there. She ignores all the liquor that fills our basement where I host parties. She drives my friends home when they are too drunk to drive, she holds their hair back as they puke into the toilet. My boyfriend cheats on me and I cry to her, she tells me now I know how she feels about my dad. That I was only with my boyfriend for three years, imagine how she must feel after seventeen years. I stop crying, stand up, walk away, call my boyfriend and tell him we are officially over and will not work it out. I will not be my mom. I will not be weak. My parents work it out. They get back together.
Round four- I’m nineteen, my sister is fifteen, my brother is thirteen. My parents call me at college and tell me that they are separating. My mom suspects another affair but has no proof. My brother calls me sobbing. My sister calls me wasted and angry. I need to drive home. I need to be with them. I drive through the night and surprise everyone at seven am. My siblings need me to be there. My sister comes to me, drunk again, and sobs to me that she knows that I am the one that has always taken care of them when this happens. She doesn’t want me to go back to school, eight hours away, and leave her alone. My siblings are confused, they don’t understand what is happening. They still don’t know about all the affairs, minus my sister watching my mom and that man. The next week, they say they have worked it out. It was a misunderstanding. They stay together.
Round Five (Real Time)- I’m twenty six, my sister is twenty four, my brother is twenty one. My mom calls to tell me they are separating while she chugs tequila from the bottle. She tells me this time there was no affair, she is just done with being a caretaker. They tell me they are calling my siblings later that day. My siblings first separation as adults, I wonder how they will handle it. My brother calls me in rage, he is so mad at my mom for being selfish. He still has no idea about all the affairs. He starts sobbing, he doesn’t understand the reason they are separating, they won’t sit down and talk to him about it. My sister calls me in rage, she doesn’t understand why I am not upset about this. I’m sorry love but I am immune. She blames my dad for all the affairs, that she has now known about for several years, and think this must be the reason. I tell her I blame mom for never being strong enough to leave in the past. My parents need a fresh start. I ask both of my siblings, how is the separation personally affecting your life. It is not your relationship, you are an adult, both my sister and I live in different states now. Neither of my siblings can answer my question. They know I am right. It has been five days, my sister has accepted it is not her relationship and she has her own life now. My brother has comes to terms with what is happening. My parents have both found new places to live. I selfishly hope this is the final separation. That this one will lead to a finalized divorce.
I’m tired of being a caretaker too mom.
I’m exhausted my friends,