Where was it I left off? Oh, yes! I was born several decades ago, my name yet undecided when I made my initial appearance. But it wasn’t long before a suitable name was agreed upon and I became ‘official’. Days became weeks and weeks became months. I subsisted on Carnation Evaporated Milk, something I cannot stand the taste or smell of to this very day! I have few memories from the infant/toddler stages in my life but that is one that has lingered. There were 11 of us in the household with only one adult actually earning any money to provide for our needs. My father was an unsuccessful salesman throughout his adult life so my mom had to work in order to ensure we had enough to provide for our basic needs. Mom was a very proud person so she absolutely refused any government assistance, including food stamps, so we experienced some very lean years.
At some point not long after I was born, my mom decided that she needed to lose some weight (approximately 280-300 pounds worth, if you get my drift), so she gave my father the old heave-ho. I guess she figured since she was the only one actually making an effort, she could pitch the excess baggage and that might help keep us afloat a bit longer. I was two years old at the time and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen my mother cry. The next six years were a bit of a challenge. Dear ol’ dad never paid a penny of child support so money was tight. At first, it was the 10 of us, until it wasn’t. It’s tough to stick around when food and money are scarce and the remaining parent isn’t physically, mentally or emotionally available. No, it wasn’t easy but we ‘survived’. We ate a lot of bread and peanut butter and anything else we could get our hands on. Soda, cold cereal, candy and anything considered ‘indulgent’ was unheard of in our home.
Oh my goodness, this has gotten rather grim, hasn’t it? I cannot continue on this way. We need to talk about something ‘fun’. So, one of the stories my mom loved to tell was how she ‘ran my diaper up the flagpole’ once I was potty trained at the age of two. The funny part is, I was nowhere near potty trained! I mean, I was a urinating machine!! Nothing was safe in our house, nor in anyone else’s that I happened to venture into. Beds, couches, chairs, stairs, anything you could park your behind on was fair game. I even managed to ‘soil a horse’. I peed so much and so often, I’m surprised I didn’t end up severely dehydrated.
How my mother thought I was potty trained is beyond me. If it weren’t so obvious, I would understand. But come on, we shared the same bed and I soaked that thing to oblivion each and every night!! I think I must have had an identity crisis. I wonder if in my small child brain, I related more to a dog or a cat? Let me explain. Cats and dogs are known to mark their territory, right? Well, doesn’t it make sense that I (being the last child) would feel an obligation to do that very thing? I had to find a way to ‘claim’ my space since I was sharing it with 8 other siblings and a parental figure who had already had many years to repeatedly mark their territory. What else was I to do? Regrettably enough, this ‘condition’ I had did not subside when I reached a reasonable age. By reasonable, I mean well under the age of 5, when most kids decide ‘diapers’ aren’t the way to go so they make a concerted effort to empty the contents of their bladders into acceptable places (i.e.; toilets).
When did I stop? Maybe the correct question would be, “when will I stop?” Ok, I’m joking…kind of. Where am I going with this? Wait…it gets even better! Not only did I stain, soil, deface and destroy nearly every surface within my reach, I also was a very dedicated thumb-sucker. Again, most ‘normal’ kids generally adapt to better ways to ‘self-soothe’ by a reasonable age, but I’m afraid you’re not dealing with ‘normal’ in this case. What did you expect? I told you my entire family is insane. Did you think I wasn’t included? So let’s talk a little bit about this before I wrap up my nightly ‘share’. So, yes, I was a bed/sofa/chair wetter. You name it, I soaked it.
My oral fixation lasted for many, many years. More than most. Fortunately, I did learn that it was not an acceptable thing to do around my schoolmates so I generally reserved it for when I slept (at home). How long did this last, you ask? Sigh…until I got braces. Not even kidding. I was thirteen when I finally quit. My siblings had made every possible attempt to break me from this terrible habit but it was ultimately braces that brought it to a screeching halt. Interestingly enough, that’s also when the bedwetting stopped. By then, I was midway through junior high. That probably explains a lot about what I experienced in school. I get it. Girl with buck teeth that smells like a urinal. If I were a betting ‘man’, I’d say those weren’t good odds. But you know what? I got through it. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but what in life is? Lesson for today? Laugh. Laugh a lot. Laugh until you wet your pants. Humor will get you through a lot of sh*t.