As I mentioned the other day, my family passed around a box of questions, like conversation starters. One of my questions was "what would you change about your childhood if you could?" My mother was in the room, and although it may not have been the case, a I felt as though she were glaring.
I am the youngest of four sisters, quite a bit younger than some in fact. Because of our age difference, we all have different perspectives on certain aspects of our upbringing. For example, my oldest sister remembers living in Alabama and "living hand to mouth," as my mother would say. My father hunted squirrel to put meat on the table, and my sisters picked cotton for so many cents a bushel. I was born into that (and I will post pictures from that time later--yee ha), but I was two years old when we moved to Indiana and to relative prosperity. I was shocked when my grandfather skinned a squirrel in front of me and expected me to deliver it to the kitchen. In my life experience, squirrels were for running the tight rope of power lines, not for eating.
Anyway, despite the varied experiences of my sisters and me, in adulthood, we share some of the same observations about the way we were raised--coldly. There was no affection in our home except between us. There was no hugging or affectionate touching, although there was an occasional fly swatter to the back side and an occasional open-handed whack to the face when my mother determined it was warranted. This week, we were "reminiscing" about the time my mother caught my sister giving me a swirly, so my mother punished her by sticking her head in the toilet. We laugh about it now, but it served no purpose at the time other than to traumatize us all. You would like to think your mother wouldn't do that to you.
So, the other day when we were all sitting kindly around the Christmas tree, and I was given the question--what would I change about my childhood if I could--there wasn't much I could say. While my sisters waited for me to respond, all I wanted to say was that I wish my childhood had been affectionate. I wish I would have felt loved and wanted and liked. Instead, I said that despite our unified complaining, all of the aspects of our childhood serve to make us who we are as adults, and I kind of like myself as an adult. So, I don't know what I would change. While my statement was true, I do wish I had been treated with affection, and I do wish I would have heard the words "I love you" just once.
I also wonder how my life would have been different had I had brothers. Would you change anything about your childhood if you could?