Patricia came out the kitchen with two food bottles. “I was just getting ready to lay them down for the night.”
“I appreciate this Mother.” She hugged her mother. “You are a lifesaver.”
“Go get ready for tomorrow, dear. I’ll finish getting them ready for bed, then you can go tuck them in,” her mother ordered.
Phoebe kissed her mother’s cheek and took her orders. Going upstairs to her room, she undressed immediately hating the dreaded tights she had to wear everyday to work. They felt awful against her skin, but catching the bus in the winter chill with plain stocking on was horrible to her legs and she hated her skin getting too dry from the cold weather in Detroit.
Looking at the mirror, she first studied her face.
Her mother always thought Phoebe was beautiful with her oval face; deep almond skin with wide expressive dark burnt orange eyes, full moist lips and a pert nose sloped downward. Phoebe always thought her one hundred forty five pound body was too much, but to Patricia it was just the right size. She wasn’t too skinny or too fat.
Turning around to study her backside, she noticed all her stretch marks were almost gone. Phoebe had gotten them in her fifth month of pregnancy and drowned her skin in vitamin E since them. More came, but not so harsh. She still had a slight discoloration and silvery lines underneath the small bulge of her stomach. When she stood straight the bulge almost disappeared.
Forget it, she told herself. Her last ten pounds were the hardest to get rid of and if she did lose them, he wouldn’t come back – they never came back. They had gotten what they wanted from her and that was it.
That didn’t stop her from getting on the floor and doing her fifty sit-ups with her thoughts still on men leaving her.
When she was done with her exercise, she pulled her permed, black, earlobe length hair in a tight ponytail, and then wrapped it for the next day. Washing up quickly, she put on her favorite red pajamas.
Standing five feet four and a half, she figured herself to be good to the eye of any man, but it wasn’t what was on the outside that bothered her much - if she didn’t think too hard about the extra ten pounds. Phoebe possessed voluptuous breasts (more than a regular handful) and backside. Before pregnancy she had been a nice 34C cup. Now she was a 38D and one size up than her usual ten since high school. Twelve wasn’t so bad, she guessed just on the brink of being a plus size. Even though no man was around to encourage her or compliment her, she refused to let her body go to waste. With the DeproVera shot, which she highly enjoyed not because she was sexually active - which hadn’t happened in two years - but because it kept her period away, she still had gained weight all over.
It was inside that made her upset. As much as she promised herself she wouldn’t allow a man to use her again, she was scared she wouldn’t listen to what she wanted and do the same thing over again. Phoebe knew she needed to become stronger and really make a stand when it concerned her mental happiness. Yes, she would be open to dating, but she wouldn’t let a man come into her life ever again, use her like a piece of tissue and then throw her away. She needed to really resolve herself to using the men just as they were using her.
Closing her eyes, she did her affirmations to herself out loud. “I am a good woman and any good man would find me a pleasure and joy to be around. I will never let a man take anything from me without getting something in return before giving it away ever again. I will not let my past or any man take away my joy.
Happiness in my life is my number one priority.” She said a little pray, asking for a good man would come into her life and for inner strength. Lastly, she prayed for a financial solution to all her debt problems.
When Stephen and Stephanie were sound asleep, she joined her mother, who had fixed a plate for her at the dining room table. The home was just like when she was a little girl. Her mother hadn’t changed a thing, and the furnishings in the home were kept in good condition through the years. Phoebe had learned from her mother how to keep a good house and how to raise good children. The twins were highly intelligent and very obedient. She was blessed with good children and thanked the Lord every day for giving her the patience of being a good mother so that her children would be well taken care of.
At the other end of the table, her mother had the bill book open as always trying to keep everything all paid up, even Phoebe’s own debts were listed in there. Her father, before his death, had made sure Phoebe’s college expenses were paid up and the mortgage on the house her mother lived in was paid off, but not the funeral expenses and other bills like the family’s credit cards and the car note.
Phoebe had not known about this stuff until after Daniel had taken off with the money. Guilt surrounded her at not being able to help her mother out, which was why she tried her best to help her mother out by paying the bills with her own check after she paid daycare and paid a little off on her own debt. Usually she just gave the entire check over to her mother, trusting Patricia to make all the decisions about the household finances.
Hopefully in the near future, Phoebe’s diligent prayer would be answered soon. Somehow.
“If I sold the apartment building, I could have enough to pay the taxes,” Patricia surmised with a mentally tired sigh.
“Mom, you need that to pay for the other ones and your other expenses. You can’t and you won’t do that,” Phoebe protested.
“You know that apartment building meant a lot to Daddy.”
“Well, five thousand dollars isn’t going to drop in our lap.”
Phoebe sat back in her chair. “Just give it a little more time, okay?”
“We’ve only got four months with the taxes, honey, before they take everything away. I really don’t want to file for bankruptcy.”
“I’ll figure something out. Just another month, okay, I’ll ask Madeline for a raise or an advance on my check. Maybe I’ll look into more child support from Daniel. I’ll figure out something, Mom, before you get rid of what is important to you.”
“This isn’t your business, Phoebe. I should not allow you to sacrifice your life to help me out when you have so much of your own going on.”
“I don’t mind. Helping you out is beneficial for both of us. You’re helping me with the kids, Mom. It’s the least I can do."
Patricia put the subject to rest. In truth, her mother did need her help very much and it was a joy for her mother to have the grandchildren around. Tomorrow morning,
Phoebe would be driving with Madeline up to Lansing, and then taking the Greyhound back to Detroit. Phoebe had her own car, but she insisted her mother use it because Patricia picked up the children more. Plus, she didn’t mind catching the bus. It saved her a lot of money than paying for parking downtown, which was very expensive.
Her mother always told Phoebe to get out more socially. Patricia would encourage her daughter to find more friends, but Phoebe always avoided this with different excuses. Patricia then started suggesting church social functions or to get in touch with old friends. Phoebe constantly just put it off, devoting all her time to her children, her job, and the home without the least bit of anger or frustration.
Phoebe loved unconditionally, which made her a good target for men who wanted to use her, but with time and her repeated prayers for strength, she knew that she would forgive and forget and maybe try again. One day.
Teach Me To Love - Chapter 3 (c) 2005 Sylvia Hubard