I’m not sure what age I was, just a few months old; no one would bother to remember exactly. I just know I was old enough to sit on the sofa, my thumb firmly planted in my mouth, my only security, poor thing, plunked into yet another new family situation.
“Oh, Lord, you’d think they could have given us a pretty baby,” my mother said to my father. “This one’s fat and ugly! And look at that eczema on her cheeks. I hope no one wants to come and see her. We don’t have to tell anyone about her right away, do we?”
I frowned at my mother that day; I frowned at all of them, my parents and my new brother, Paul. I must have known What Was To Come.
Years on, my mother told me this story on several occasions, chuckling each time. I was astonished by such ignorance, that she was incapable of comprehending what it did to me to hear this story, let alone have her laugh about it.
She loved to show family and friends a particular photograph of me and they always howled with laughter, although I will never understand why. I was still a baby, just five months old, and in this photo I am standing in the corner of my crib, pressing my little back as tightly into the wood as possible. My chubby little arms are up beside my head as I lean backward, as far away as I can get from my mother’s outstretched hand.
I look like a deer in the headlights.
“Look at that! A baby, scared to death of her mother and trying to get away!” she laughed.
Somewhere inside my little soul, I knew just what I was in for, her dislike for me apparent the moment she laid her eyes on me and I would feel it every moment of every day for the rest of my life.
I was so small. Just a little girl.
I tried so hard to be good, to do as I was told. Except when anyone wanted to take my picture. I wanted to hide my…