Mother inspires perseverance, shows strength

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

The first time I ever saw my mother being hit by a man, I was 10 years old.

Cowering in the corner, I threw a blanket over my face to shield myself from the scene that filled our one bedroom apartment.

At the time, I didn’t understand the chaotic discord that not only had me weeping in fear, but fearful for the safety of my mother.

Once the squabble abated, the huffing and cursing that pierced our rundown apartment was interrupted by cries from my 3-year-old sister who my mother rushed over to attend to once out of the grip of my step dad’s arms.

After hours spent in the bathroom applying makeup to a blackened eye and bloody lip, my mother came out to face the world.

With what seemed like a loss of dignity and a tarnished spirit, she continued with her day as if nothing had transpired.

It was as if I had not witnessed her being hit in the face multiple times by a man twice her size.

In an attempt to diffuse the uncomfortable situation later on during dinner, she explained her injuries away to an accident with the closet door, insuring there was nothing to worry about.

Inside I wanted to believe her, but the women I grew up admiring seemed almost a skeleton of her old self.

For me, this verbal and physical altercation etched a memory so vivid inside of me that it resonated within my psyche.

Although it wouldn’t be the last time I would see or hear my mother being abused, that incident in the kitchen would become a catalyst that shaped my views on how men and women are portrayed in society.

The notion that men are the protector or head of the house, in my eyes was a conviction that was shattered by the bruises and cuts that regularly appeared on my mother’s body.

My experiences with my step dad, a man who to me was a weak representation of what the idle norms were for what qualifies as a man, pretended and carried himself in public as if he was a  real-man by the norms of society.

Although he worked seven days a week and provided for his family, the dirty little secret that he hid on the knuckles of his fingers disqualified him from achieving the status of fatherly role model.

Over the next five years, the arguments and abuse at night haunted the halls.

While I was supposed to be sleeping, tossed and turned in bed hoping the woman I grew to admire would reclaim the life that was stolen by domestic abuse.

During the day, the plastered on smiles symbolized a false sense of security, as my mother persevered through years of torment that never kept her down.

It was her, who for years protected my sister and I from being abused while enduring countless beatings, while working overtime at trying to hide the fact that it was even happening.

She was the protector, the head of the house and the true representation of what the idle norms were for what qualifies as a man.

These norms that as a young man, I looked for in my step dad.

But it was my mother, that embodied the true essence of what society sees as a man.