Pam used to dream of living with the Brady Bunch. Everyday
she'd share hugs, get help with homework, and play with plenty
of kids. Mom would make waffles, and after work, daddy would
be the best pony ride in town. She could relax, feeling safe
But then Pam would awaken to a nightmare. Every night, she
had to feed her brothers and sisters, clean them up, put them
to bed; drag mom and dad upstairs, clean them up, put them to
bed; toss the bottles in the trash, clean the kitchen, finally
feed herself, and then, exhausted, crumble in the tattered chair
by the TV. There, the late show would finally lull Pam to sleep,
with its watchful eye standing vigil through the night.
Pam, a Child of an Alcoholic (CoA), felt like an orphan with
two living parents. Sometimes it seemed like a witch had placed
a spell on her real mother and father, and left drunks in their
place. But somehow, Pam believed that if she loved them enough,
and did what she was told, she could break the spell and bring
her parents back. Then warmed by their love, she could get on
with being a child.
But Pam had to raise herself. Not having parents to guide
her left her feeling empty and unsure of everything. Still, she
discovered that if she acted confidently, then usually no one
found out. Sometimes she felt she should win an "Oscar"
for the century's best impersonation of a life.
Nevertheless, with grit and courage, Pam managed to leave
home, finish school, establish a career, and marry a man who
cherished her. Professionally, colleagues admired her, but Pam
still saw her life as a "house of straws," ready to
tumble with the barest breeze. Insidiously, her uncertainty grew.
Then, when Pam gave birth to her baby girl, she vowed she'd
provide all the love she had wished for, and more. But then,
her anxiety grew: she didn't have a clue about how to raise a
child. Most of what she knew about parenting had come through
a parent's bottle of beer.
So Pam resolved to reinvent mothering, while jealously guarding
her secret. Fearing discovery, she treated her husband's attempts
at help as a hinderance; his advice, criticism. Feeling excluded,
her husband fumed, and soon, the love that had forged their child
changed to a smoldering wedge between them.
But Pam was determined to be the tolerant mother; she emulated
Mrs. Brady's perfection. When the child was contrary, she was
the figure of control. When the young one screamed, she smiled.
As she grew more demanding, mother's mouth stretched tighter,
Pam could never forgive her explosions. She could feel the
flush, and without warning, a stream of abuse would rush from
her mouth like lava erupting from the ocean floor.
When the fever broke, she'd be filled with remorse, and would
summon strength to comfort her shuddering child. The terror they
felt was mutual, but Pam was appalled: the tidal wave of rage
had come directly from her parents' mouths.
So again Pam would pledge to contain her fury, while another
torrent of torment would pour from her lips. And each time, her
heart would swell with shame.
Then after a long, difficult day, as Pam held her tightly
near the top of the stairs, the child screamed a soul ripping
scream. In a flash, Pam's body jerked, and her muscles gave the
signal to send her baby hurtling down the steps. Pam blinked
hard; miraculously, she found her child still tucked safely in
Stunned, she called her husband, and quietly pleaded, "take
her; I just don't know what to do." Then, she handed him
their child, and in that moment, finally found her family.