I was born in Minneapolis as a boy. Mama took one look at me and exclaimed, “I thought he was going to be Rebecca!” Needless to say, I was scarred for life. In those days, getting an ultrasound to determine the sex of a baby wasn’t a bygone decision and people essentially relied on the doctors and midwives to make educated guesses based on measurements, heart rates, and old wives tales.
Yes, I was born in a hospital. My mother birthed all seven of us children before she entered the world of Bill Gothard (Billy Boy G.), i.e. no home births. Thus, there were no complications when she had to have an emergency C-section with my younger sister (though she constantly attributed that sister’s rebellion to not being squeezed through the birth canal).
I was the middle child of seven. I had an older sister, two older twin brothers, two younger sisters, and my baby bro. We were all within 7.5 years in age, allowing us to be very close as we tried to navigate the hell that was to be our childhood and young adult years.
My father tells the story that he knew something was wrong with Mama when my older sister (I’ll call her Marie) was beaten at the ripe old age of six months – for crying. This practice helped Mama fit in to her new-found faith once she found Billy Boy G in 1987, 10 years later. Marie was beaten until she escaped at 25 years old, a fact you might remember from my previous installments.
The only memory I have of being beaten during my “little years” was when we were being babysat by an aunt. The aunt was a good woman and allowed kids to be kids. I climbed up on the dresser in the boys’ bedroom and knocked a bunch of clothes off of it. As a young whippersnapper, I never cleaned up my messes – unless I was beaten. Children tend to learn things like that quickly. Mama came home and found the mess and lit into me. I have no recollection of the beating –just the narrative. And she never let me forget. Years later, she still used that incident as proof that I was a disobedient, evil, louse.
I saw very little of my dad and have almost no memories of him from when I was younger. He was going to night school to finish his law and accounting degrees while working full time as an accountant to feed his burgeoning family. As far as I can remember, not one good word ever came out of Mama’s mouth about him.
“Your father is lazy.” “Papa can’t hold a job down.” “You are not allowed to play with Papa when he comes home because he allows you to do disobedient things.” So much for such little minds to take in. And guess what…we believed every word of it. After all, Mama was with us twenty-four hours a day. She fed, clothed, and beat us. Why wouldn’t we believe every word? Our livelihood depended on it.
I learned to hate my father. This would prove to be a feeling that would take years to reverse. Even today, I love him dearly and yet still find it difficult to form a close bond. I missed so much during those years as a brainwashed little boy.
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I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce