Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

November 22, 2012

raised in a boarding house

Melanie was raised in a boarding house run by her mother and despite always envying friends with a normal home life the experience gave her a vocation that she one day hopes to fulfill.

"My father died when I was a baby and my mother earned a living from renting out rooms in the big house that my father had left her," confides Melanie.

"The house had been passed down through the generations in my father's family," explains Melanie, "and I guess his ancestors would have turned in their graves at the sight of a lot of strange men rather than a lot of children filling its rooms."

"Mom had a choice to sell the old house," says Melanie, "but I'm glad she didn't because one day this is going to be my home - and I mean home. I've made it my life vocation to restore it to its former glory and raise my children here - just like my dad had been. And I want my children to pass my father's ancestral house on to their children, too. "

"It was the mid-1970s when my mom turned the old family home into a boarding house," says Melanie. "She explained that there wasn't much a young widow with a baby could do in those days. It was either re-marriage or go back home to live with her parents."

"Given her circumstances I think she made a good choice to go into the boarding house business," says Melanie, "but it meant that I had a very strange childhood."

"At first mom didn't employ anyone to do the cooking, cleaning or washing," says Melanie. "She did it all herself and made a lot of money which she is now living on in retirement while a couple runs the boarding house. Mom still owns the property but the couple bought the business."

"I didn't have any sort of normal childhood," sighs Melanie. "My mother was never available for bedtime stories or kisses or cuddles."

"I had a little attic bedroom - an original store-room - and because it had its own staircase and entrance my mom used to lock me up there from 5pm every evening where I stayed alone until 5am the next day."

"She had to lock me up there for safety reasons," explains Melanie, "and I wasn't exactly alone. I had two cats that kept me company and slept on my bed. I had stacks of books, a radio and later on I had my own television set."

"My mom got rid of the cats when my room got infested with fleas and my teacher reported me as being neglected because I was covered in flea bites," sighs Melanie. "I remember crying for days when the cats went. They were my only friends."

"I didn't have my own bathroom so I had to use a bucket to go to the toilet," says Melanie, "and I hated carrying that bucket downstairs every day."

"My mom was very careful never to let any of the boarders speak to me," says Melanie. "I ate with mom in the kitchen before going to school and when I came home she'd give me supper and send me straight up to my room."

"I could never bring friends home because I didn't have a home," says Melanie. "And it wasn't until I was about twelve than mom allowed me to visit with my friends."

"I was so envious of my girlfriends for having a real mom and dad and a real home with brothers and sisters," explains Melanie, "and they were so sorry for me for living in a boarding house."

"Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only times mom and I ate with the boarders," says Melanie. "And I really enjoyed those times. Many of the boarders were young men living far away from their families and they were very kind to me - buying me lovely presents."

"By the age of twelve I was also helping mom run the boarding house - setting the tables and cleaning," says Melanie. "By then I was locking myself into my attic at nights - but at 9pm rather than 5pm!"

"At fourteen I had a crush on one of the boarders - a really handsome young man of 22," sighs Melanie, "and fearing that I would get into trouble my mom sent me off to stay with an aunt."

"I married two years later at sixteen and now I'm 35 with four children and my husband and I would dearly love to buy the boarding house business from the couple and live in the house ourselves," says Melanie.

"Sure, I will inherit the property when my mom dies, but I want my children to live in it now as a home."

"I pass by the house often and I'm making all sorts of plans to restore it to its former glory," sighs Melanie, "but we can't afford to buy out the couple and mom doesn't want to help us - even though she can afford to."

"She says I should get on with my life and sell the property when I inherit it," say Melanie. "But I have an awful lot of unfinished business with that house that she cannot ever comprehend. To restore it to its former glory is my destiny job!"

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