My Runaway Mom


My father ditched out on his/our happy, middle-class suburban life when I was eight years old. (And this was long enough ago so that once their marital vows became mutual “Ciao!”s, my mom and dad became easily the only divorced parents in the neighborhood. It was so weird being, suddenly, the kid with the radically unnatural home life.)

Poof! Instant Dad-B-Gone! One minute I was part of a nuclear family—Father, Mother, eleven-year-old sister Nancy, seven-year-old little Bro (me), dog, cat, hamster, guinea pig. And the next minute my family went nuclear.

My dad moved into a one-bedroom bachelor pad some twenty miles from the suburban tract home in which my mom, sister and I continued to live.

At least I got to stay in my house. That was … nice.

Except that two years after my dad left that very house, my mom left it, too.

I was, like, “What the [bleep]? Is it the hideous green shag carpet in this house? Is that why everyone keeps leaving? Cuz we can change that, you know!”

First, as part of our happy, whole family, my mom was (more or less) Donna Reed herself; next, liberated from what she took to calling her “emotionally retarded” ex-husband, she rather instantly transformed into a pot-smoking, rap-session-going, Vietnam-war-protesting college student. And then, two years into being a single mother (and a real babe of one, at that: believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched a succession of college professors nervously fidgeting on your couch as they wait for their date with your mom to sort of kick in), my mother became no mother at all. Because she totally disappeared.

“I’m going to the store for some milk and bread,” she said one sunny afternoon around one o’clock. She then took her keys, purse, and sunglasses from off the dining table.

“Be right back!” she said, closing the door behind her.

And then it was three o’clock, and she hadn’t come home yet. Pretty weird.

Then it was six o’clock, and she still hadn’t come home yet. Pretty darn weird.

Then it was eight o’clock, and dark—and still no mom. Okay. Completely freakish.

Then it was midnight, and my sister and I were just frantic with worry. (I have no idea why neither of us thought to call the police. Well, I know I didn’t because I had no idea cops even did stuff like find lost moms. If my sister—who was thirteen by then—thought to alert the authorities, it makes sense, given the severely disturbing way my mother had begun treating her once our father had left, that she just might freakin’ not.)

Next morning, and still no mom.


[Next post in this little series: My Runaway Mom–and Her Surprise Replacement.]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • There were times I secretly wished I had run-away parents too.

  • Ric: Yikes, dude. That's … a really heartbreaking thing to hear.

  • I'm a man so it could honestly take me a few decades to find milk and bread in some grocery stores. They set those aisles up in a way that is purposefully engimatic.

    I"m guessing your mom didn't have the same excuse. Eager/anxious to read part two here.

  • Red: How times change! This was in … what …. 1966 or so—when there were MAYBE five choices of bread brands. (And, actually, I think it was two—and since one of those was the then-ubiquitous Wonder Bread, there was really only one.) And, yes, as you say, my mother's problem was not that she couldn't decide … which loaf of Wonder Bread to choose.

  • Christine

    Geez that sucks, and in a weird way really makes me love my parents more. Boggles my mind how parents can do that. Looking forward (again in a weird way) to part b

  • Richard Lubbers

    Wow John, what a story! Fiction couldn't be more strange. Looking forward to part two.

  • Thanks, Richard. Part 2 went up today. Thanks again.