HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Heather Doney’s guest series on her blog, Becoming Worldly. Part Four was originally published on July 5, 2013. “Electra” is a pseudonym chosen by the author. If you have a Quiverfull “sister-Mom” story you would like to share, email Heather at becomingworldly (at) gmail (dot) com.
Also in this series: Part One: Introduction by Heather Doney | Part Two: DoaHF’s Story | Part Three: Maia’s Story | Part Four: Electra’s Story | Part Five: Samantha Field’s Story | Part Six: Mary’s Story
Part Four, Electra’s Story
(HA note: Yesterday, we shared the story of Maia, Electra’s older sister.)
My life started out just as my parents’ belief in the quiverfull/patriarchal system began.
I had two older brothers and an older sister, and my parents had just started homeschooling them when I was born. By the time I was 6, I had two younger sisters and another brother. Another younger sister and brother were born by the time I reached 8 years old.
I, being the second oldest daughter, didn’t have quite as many responsibilities as my older sister Maia.
However, I was very aware of her important servant role in our home. She was responsible for meals, taking care of the children, and all the cleaning, as well as getting us to do our endless chores. She was supposed to home school us, as my parents, both unemployed, were either out “somewhere” during the day, or in their bedroom fighting over authority.
She also was in charge of the discipline, and expected to submit to the authority of my older brothers. She would give some of this authority to us younger kids, to delegate some of the responsibility. I had some duties too, I was responsible for making my younger siblings beds, doing all the dishes, sweeping the floor, among other cleaning duties, and being full time baby sitter for my youngest brother, who had medical issues. If he got out of line, I was the one punished.
Our home school, like many others, cannot really be defined as education.
It was more a cover so that my parents could do as they pleased. When my older sister went to high school when I was 12, I was expected to take on her servant role wholeheartedly, and enjoy it. I tried for a while, but I became very ill, with pneumonia.
I have long term respiratory issues because my parents chose not to vaccinate for whooping cough.
I had it when I was five and was ill for months with little to no medical care and as a result have had pneumonia many times, only receiving medical care one time. I was sick in bed for over two months, during which time my parents’ marriage continued to fall apart.
My role as a sister-mom completely failed.
There was a lot of physical abuse in the home, and when my older sister moved out the physical abuse loosened up a bit. The emotional abuse and blame game however, was intensified. It was flavour of the week, and my parents blamed whoever they were most annoyed with for the changes happening to our family.
I rarely talked to my parents at this point, and most of our interactions were them rebuking me for not respecting my role in the house, by having friends they didn’t approve of and hanging out with them behind their backs, and me trying to reason with them. It grew to the point that by the time I got better, I was rarely speaking to my parents, simply doing my duties as a daughter and then disappearing to my room.
Luckily for me, I was enrolled into high school later that year, unknown to my father. My illness and inability to properly mother my siblings was one of the many determining factors in their eventual separation.
Soon after my parents were separated the power struggle at home with my mother trying to maintain control ended with me moving out to a friend’s house. Over the next four years, I worked at getting my high school diploma while moving from couch to couch, living with my mother off and on. Eventually I cut her off altogether along with my father, and am now able to live a life free of power struggles, control, and cloistering.
With a stable job and income, heading to university while living independently I can definitely say, it was difficult to find a life for myself in the normal world after being a sister mom. I worry about my five younger siblings. They are still with my mother, and her rules and problems with neglect have gotten much better, as she is now under close supervision by CPS.
But I sincerely hope they somehow get out of there, and are able to make a life for themselves like I did.
To be continued.