Black Widow

Inspired by one of her pals who recently liberated herself from the diaper, Nugget made the request to put on underwear.


She’s adorably delicious, but I can’t wait to get as far away from her bodily waste as possible.

I yearn for the day she does this. (Pic from weebooktada)

We granted her wish to wear underwear and she proudly pranced (As a feminist, I don’t use that word lightly to describe my daughter) around our house, frequently asking, “Wanna see my underwear?” A pause would invoke a more aggressive sales pitch: “They’re purple,” she would add.

As she pointed out the details of the design on her underwear, her innocence and vulnerability almost hurt to witness. My mind wandered again to Penn State and to my own history.

In a lot of ways, there’s nothing shocking about how the perpetrator was able to do what he did. It’s classic. Charming perpetrator places himself in a position to gain access to children. He impresses the community, the families, and, most sadistically, the children who looked up to him.

The person who sexually abused me for 2 years was my teacher. In my case, the perpetrator was a woman.

She was the most popular teacher. She was hip, cute, and fun. She was married to a handsome guy and she knew the words to the most popular songs, which endeared her to the students.

Healer Lady described her as “shiny,” and that is a spot-on description. She was shiny and everybody wanted to be next to her.

It sounds corny, but when I was with her I truly believed I could be anybody. For some reason she wanted to spend time with me and I was special for it. She asked me questions about things that mattered to me. She helped me with homework. She told me I could do and be anything.

She never hit me and she never threatened to hit me. Her words were kind and encouraging, instead of demeaning and cruel.

She entered my life as someone to respect, to admire, to please.

My most vivid memory of her is when I had stayed after school to help her grade papers as I often did. We walked to her car together and as we talked there was a sudden shift of energy even my young self could recognize.

We stood at her car. She gave a shy smile as she reminded me of a movie we had recently watched called “The Black Widow,” starring Debra Winger. Her bringing it up was a premeditated step that I have only recently recognized as such.

A quick description of a certain scene is warranted, so bear with me and read on.

In the movie, Debra plays a detective working undercover as a tourist in Hawaii to track down a sociopath. The hitch was that Debra was seduced by the sociopath’s world.

In one tense scene, the sociopath kisses Debra. It was a violent kiss that said “fuck you” rather than “I want you.” Regardless, it was one of the first girl-on-girl kisses on the big screen. In hind site, I suppose many closeted lesbians flocked to the theaters, eager to see any representation of women’s affection for each other, even if it was a sociopath lip locked with the woman who would take her down. At the time, any representation of gayness was something to show up for and overlooking the violence of it was the type of desperation that oppression bred.

Her point in reminding me about the movie was to confess that she wanted to see my reaction to this scene in an attempt to to find out how I felt about kissing a woman. She also shared that during the movie, her hand had brushed against my hand, which apparently was something she had thought about. Obsessively.

This is what I looked like in middle school.

She confessed that she wanted to kiss me. She said it was out of her control and she didn’t know what to do about it.

I was in middle school, never been kissed nor had I thought about it, and the only sexual experience I had was when I stumbled across a hefty stack of my dad’s Playboys.

I remember clearly that as she spoke I was more focused on the fact that all of the tension that led up to her confession wasn’t about her need ditch our friendship. Relying on her for nearly everything, I remember how the thought of her absence in my life made my stomach hurt with anxiety, so I actually felt relief.

Also, the implications of what she said to me were completely lost on me. Fact was, I knew that I liked women and dreamed of a day when I was an adult, so that I could be in a relationship with a woman. It was an unquestionable fact that I felt discomfort about only when I realized that the discomfort of others would create a lifetime of hurdles. But never sexualizing my imagined, grown-up relationship with a woman, I was uncertain what to do with my teacher’s request.

The fact that she was my teacher and older than me was superseded by the fact that she was my friend.

From this exchange on, she seeped into my life in ways that I hadn’t known to be possible. She still does.

Maybe because of my own experience, there’s not a single day that goes by where I don’t think about or fear that something like this will happen to Nugget.

Her innocently sharing the exciting development of wearing underwear for the first time stirs my history and hits my gut. All parents feel this, but frankly, I would opt for the run-of-the-mill variety of fear that bonds parents. My fear takes me away from Nugget as my mind wanders in her presence and returns to her with a mood dampened by my own memories of childhood.

With today’s backdrop of Penn State and my memory of the Black Widow, I’m reminded that so many of us live this reality. I’m so tired of it.


About Mama's Tantrum

Midlife tantrum: Mothering a toddler while healing from childhood trauma. And trying not to throw a full-blown tantrum. View all posts by Mama's Tantrum

3 responses to “Black Widow

  • Kristin

    This post is so well written. It gave me chills. It’s amazing to me how much of the normal parenting angst I am able to take for granted because it’s not weighted down by a history of violence or abuse. Reading this makes me feel so privileged that I can take that for granted. No one deserves to feel this way. You are so brave for sharing this.

    • Maura

      I’m with Kristen; well done. If an outside observer like me can’t see this struggle you regularly face as a parent, it makes me wonder how many other friends share similar conflicts.

    • David

      Ditto, Kristin. I’ve just returned from a yoga teacher retreat where part of the work was diving deep within a small, supportive group. It’s just heartbreaking how many people in our lives have a traumatized child inside thinking it must have been her fault – and we mostly don’t even know their suffering. Mama is very brave. I hope the sunlight helps.

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