Every Childhood Even The Darkest Have Bright Breaks Where The Clouds Part And The Sun Breaks Through

My Grandparents Represented Normal And Good In My Life

A great memory from my childhood is a trip with my grandparents. We went through the national parks that particular summer. I usually spent my summers with my grandparents. This year we headed on a road trip pulling the camper trailer. Looking back it reminds me of the shows on TV when the families went on their family vacation.

Enjoying Bambi As A Sweet Forest Creature

As we traveled through Yosemite I saw a deer very close up. Up to that point my experience with deer was very different. I was raised to hunt and fish. I was along on many trips in which by about 10 I would be driving so the men could be looking out the windows. Scouting for the next camp spot as we drove through back dirt roads being driven by a 10 year old needs to be in the next life time movie. It’s not everyone’s childhood experience. I appreciated the opportunity even at 8 to be able to be a kid for a minute. To see the deer as Bambi and just see it living in peace.

My Grandfather Surprised Me

My grandfather was a man of very few words. He rarely spoke strongly about any topic when I was present. So when he did I would pay attention. I Remember my grandfather talking pretty passionatly about a parent allowing their child to get too close to the deer that day. It was a different side of my grandfather I hadn’t previously seen. It really had never occured to me that my grandfather noticed any children very much. The dynamic had always been my grandmother taking care of me and my cousins. We were told on occasion back then to not bother our grandfather. My grandfather never showed me any anger and always seemed very mild mannered. I think in his younger years though he was different.

The Iconic Family Vacation

The memory of that trip has been a staple for me of the good wholesome moments from my childhood. It was during this trip while driving from one land mark to the next we found paradise. This place was in my opinion a theme park created by nature. The information board described it as a place where the native Americans had gathered around. I don’t remember what they may have used it for but I do remember what it was being used for that day. You see it was a beautiful rushing stream. As we had gotten closer you could see that it was spotted with children all along the banks. It was all beautiful red Rock with water rushing down being channeled by natural grooves rubbed smooth by years of water rushing along the solid Rock.

The Smooth Red Rock

The rock floor of the stream was solid. No sand or clay to churn up and make the water cloudy The bottom was clearly visible all the details of the rock surface visible. You could see how the water had channeled in a way that had worn down a perfectly sized groove in the rock for sitting. It also appeared to a child’s eye to be a magical place made by nature for children. I had never been to a water park at that time and never visited one since that was as exciting as this. The natural grooves made perfect chutes for people to slide down with natural twists and turns.

The Water Was Brisk And Perfect

The water was only deep enough to come up to my waist. which was perfect for my 8 year old self to be pushed along the slides and have the water cushion me along any turns. Which ended with the water spreading out to barely cover the rocks at the end of the slide which caused the pressure of the water pushing you along to dissipate. I don’t think it could have been engineered any better then it had occured naturally. It was the most exhilarating ride I could imagine. The sun was bright, the water was crisp, and the many other children where laughing and screaming.

Back To The Top

The water was running fast enough to push a child down the rack path at what felt like the fastest Ever. But once at the end it let up enough I could standup and run back to the top and do it all over again. It was amazing and my little social self made friends with all the families along the stream. I just felt like this summer vacation find was so beautiful and exciting. I loved the smell of the pine trees and the perfect weather. It was warm enough that the chilly water was refreshing and just added to the sensations of the whole experience.

The Mountains Are My Happy Place

The mountains have continued to be a way for me to remember the many summer vacations my grandparents would take me along for. It was the break from my reality that I needed for my child brain to relax and forget the reality of my nightmare. To be a kid and forget all the expectations my parents had for me at home. While I would run through forest trails or sit in Sunny grassy meadows it was like these locations where completely different worlds. Nothing from my daily life existed.

To Be A Child

I didn’t have baby brothers to take care of in these places. At 8 the constant responsibility of two infants my parents had was overwhelming and problematic. I worried about them all the time. I felt like they where my children and when I was home they really where on so many levels. My mother was a submissive alcoholic who had very little in the way of the skills needed to care for anyone but herself. And as I have looked back she wasn’t able to do even that. Instead depending on me and then later my younger siblings. More days then not she was passed out after a sloppy day of drinking.

My Mom Was Often Difficult

To be honest when she was asleep or unconscious things where easier for me then when she was awake. When awake there where numerous dangers she posed to my brothers. She chained smoked and while drunk was known to drop cigarettes or have the lit end accidently touch the tender skin of my brothers arms. It always seemed to be their arms as they would grab for anything when she swung them as she walked drunk and stumbling. Of course their where times when she would drop them or pull their little arms so hard I feared they would break. She would twist and pull to get the arms through the little baby shirts as I cringed. I would stand by and constantly critique my mother’s attempts at nurturing. I was like a nervous hen watching a coyote sniff her baby chicks.

Tiptoeing Around My Home

When my father was home it was amplified. I couldn’t stop my mom from doing things in front of him. Although that didn’t stop me from being punished when she would be unable to keep them quite. It was always a land mine field that tipped toe through each day. Trying to determine when to step in and when not to. When to save dinner and when saving dinner was perceived as making my mother look bad. On a good night it would end with me telling my mother to go to bed if she hadn’t drunk herself into what I thought was a nightly coma. If she did what I asked it was a good ending. The nights it wasn’t ended with me arguing with her about she had enough and to stay in room.

Not All Women Are Capable Of Motherhood

It was strange that at 8 when my mother had two children I realized she was not normal and that it wasn’t a natural or accepted situation to be telling my mother what to do. I felt like I was the adult in the situation and that my mother was my cross to bear. Really I was too young to be questioning the things I was told so completely. I never had the illusion of santa Claus, fairy princesses, or happy endings. Reality was all I had time for.

Summer Breaks

The summer breaks every year where rare times I was allowed to be a child. My grandparents would only take me on these trips never longer then two weeks at a time. In reflection I know my grandparents were aware I took on a parental role in my household. I don’t think they trusted her anymore then I did to care for the babies on her own for longer then two weeks. The rest of the summer would be spent with the three of us kids with my grandparents. I used to wonder how my grandparents were able to get my parents to even allow the two week break. I realize now that my grandparents gave my parents money every month, and it was leveraged, my parents not wanting to make my grandparents upset in fear of not getting the money.

Safe Haven

Due to their medical needs as elderly grandparents I would still be entrusted with the boys care. The difference though was my grandparents home was clean and calm and had wonderfully clean things like towels. I remember my grandparents towels. They were thick and soft and smelled good. Such a stark difference from the rags we had that when held up to the light where see thru. It’s hard for me now to think we literally had towels that were not much more then threads barely holding together at all. I remember very clearly my one set of sheets the entire time I lived with my parents. My grandmother had bout them when I was in preschool. A brand new set of strawberry shortcake. As an adult when I went back to take custody of my youngest two siblings I was packing a few of their belongings. I looked at my sister’s bed and she had the same set of sheets on her bed.

The Great Days

When with my grandparents it was a joy to care for my brothers. On that beautifully sparkling day as I rode down those rock slides all of that was forgotten. All I thought about that day was about running to the top of that ride again. And not until I had rubbed all the material of the shorts my grandmother had bought just that summer away was I going to leave. I literally had rubbed two butt cheek size holes in the seat of my shorts. I didn’t care though it was a perfect day and I walked away from that water wonder land with my little pink panties clearly seen through the holes I had worn in my shorts.

Do you also have memories from your childhood that you can now look back and see how they were defining points? Do you find that journaling helps bring out these positive feelings? Please share your thoughts below. I’m also including a few links about memories and childhood truama effects.

The Power of the Earliest Memories

What you can remember from age 3 may help improve aspects of your life far into adulthood. Children who have the ability to recall and make sense of memories from daily life-the first day of preschool, the time the cat died-can use them to better develop a sense of identity, form relationships and make sound choices in adolescence and adulthood, new research shows.

The Effects of Childhood Trauma and What Can Help Alleviate Them

Although adults often say things like, “He was so young when that happened. He won’t even remember it as an adult,” childhood trauma can have a lifelong effect. And while kids are resilient, they’re not made of stone.

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