My step mother’s house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was a dark-red brick house with ivy growing all over, which colored the house according to the seasons. In fall, the house blared out in wild hues of red, copper, and orange ivy leaves. In winter, the house seemed stark, naked. In spring and summer, deep green leaves contrasted with the red brick. I thought it looked the best in summer.
(Image credit: Sparklestar)
The house belonged to my step mother and her alone. My father was not on the deed. The house had belonged to my step mother and her first husband, who was deceased. She never let me forget that. Everything in the house had been theirs. Not ours – theirs. I hated that!
This house was the only one like it in the neighborhood. To a twelve-year-old girl who was already considered different, and only wanted to blend into the masses, the house was a great source of my discontent. The red brink accented by pistachio green window trim just screamed, “Look at me, I am different!” I hated it.
The house was not large by any means in fact, it was quite small. There was a large brick and concrete front porch that was never used. The porch was flanked on the left side by the largest picture window in the neighborhood. It looked like a huge glaring eye staring out into the street.
The front door was for company only. On the right side of the door was my step mother’s and father’s bedroom, and that also sported a smaller picture window. The house always looked like it was winking or, was off-balance somehow. I hated that too.
(Image credit: Brick house – not my step-mother’s house – just an example)
Inside my step mother’s house were two bedrooms, a den, a large kitchen, a living room, and one small bathroom. There was a basement that encompassed the whole bottom floor that was accessed by a flight of stairs from the kitchen.
The basement contained a laundry area, a wood working room, another casual living area, and a pool table! I was never allowed to play pool because the pool table held sentimental value to my step mother. It belonged to her first husband. I grew to hate that also.
The kitchen was the main living area of the house. The walls were painted turquoise and bright red linoleum tiles covered the floor. There was a round table skirted by three chairs nearest to the back door. My father and step mother would come in after work and sit in those chairs and smoke and talk. I was the only kid in the neighborhood or in any of my classes who had a “working” (step) mother. I really hated that.
1970, the year I was twelve, was all about expression in the use of color within your home, and my step mother loved color. Of course, I hated it. In the bathroom, the sink, toilet, and tub were baby blue. Pink tiles lined the walls. My step mother added purple to the mix and the room was a psychedelic mess. And, to make matters worse, there was no shower – only a bathtub! I hated that worst of all.
(Image credit: Psychedelic)
My bedroom was painted in a pale wedge-wood blue. I had a comfortable double bed with many blankets to ward off the harsh Wisconsin cold. There were curtains on the windows patterned with fall leaves. I liked the way the coolness of the blue walls contrasted with the warm colors in the curtains. White café curtains finished off the window decor and afforded me some privacy from the closeness of the neighbors. My room felt like a sunny autumn afternoon.
Over my bed, hung three framed prints of birds from the Audubon Society; a robin, a blue bird and a scarlet tanager. They had belonged to my step mother’s first husband. I did not mind them. They were beautiful to me.
My father made me a wood desk which overlooked one of two windows in the room. I sat at that desk reading, writing, doing homework, and dreaming of what I was going to become in the years ahead. My bedroom, my sanctuary was the only room I liked in my step mother’s house. Eventually, I would have to leave it all behind.
Image credit: Dreaming of Life)
This was part of my Writing 101 assignment for today wherein we were to tell about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For our twist, we were to pay attention to — and vary — our sentence lengths.
Thanks for the great visit today. I hope to see you again soon!
10 thoughts on “My Step Mother’s House”
Really liked this post about your step-mother’s house. She sounds like she could definitely give step-mothers a bad rep. I wonder why she felt she had to feel so possessive about the house? No exactly a generous soul.
She grew up during the depression. I think she had a cruel streak in her. Selfish too. One minute she loved you, the next she hated you. She is gone now.
Sad. Hope you have been able to find peace with it.
I have indeed. I look back now with more wisdom and empathy for my parents. We don’t get to pick our children or our parents. I would not be who I am today without meeting and dealing with all that adversity early on. Thank you for your kind thoughts. ♡
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Great description of the house, Colleen, even though you disliked most of it. Must have been quite hard having to relive that house?
It is. My kids need to know some of this though. Thanks Hugh.
Amazing writing. I like the striking contrasts between your beginning with the beautiful ivy, then the way your step-mother treated you and the house that mirrored her, and ending with the lovely room you created for yourself and lived in. I liked that your father made you a work table – like nonverbal support and love. The flip flops in your story seemed to me like the uncertainty and out of the loop feelings you experienced. I agree that your children need to know about your early life. What a contrast to how you are today. I’m touched.
Thank you so much. I worked hard to bring those contrasts together. Not many get those connections. You know, I look back now with wiser eyes. I see some of the subtle love my Dad tried to give me. I could not see those things then. He was a broken man. My step mother as cruel as she was still taught me valuable lessons which helped me in my life. That to me is the difference between looking back with the eyes of an adult and living it as a child. You always have to find the good in your life, as it propels you forward toward hope and change. Thanks again for getting me. That means so much ♡
I totally agree with vivachange77 about the way you knit the words together. One who reads walks with you. Why don’t you write a book?
Why thank you Naveen. I have plans to write a book soon. Thank you for that vote of confidence! ❤
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