My parents were very young when they had me, and they were married because they were having me. Abortions were illegal, and they got money from their parents to go to a reliable doctor, but instead they went to an ice cream parlour. I guess I should be glad for otherwise I wouldn't have been here to tell the story.
They were still at university, and they lived with granny and grandpa because a young family could not get a home of their own at that time and in that country, and also because my granny took care of me, together with great-granny and a maid. My parents loved parties, and in summers they would go on exciting travels while I was left in the country with granny. I was brought up with hard rules and was often spanked by my mother. I was forced to eat up my porridge and the hateful beet soup. My mother sew my clothes, and although I now realise that they were really pretty, I hated them because they were different from everybody else's. My mother also used to punish me by not talking to me. She would pass me without looking at me or talking to me for weeks. Then suddenly she would be as usual.
Nonetheless I always admired my mother, and she was my role model. She gave me the right books to read and took me to museums and concerts. When she got her PhD at the age of 36, which was late by all standards, she said she expected me to beat her. I didn't, I also got my PhD at 36, but it was after two interrupted PhDs, so I hope she wasn't too disappointed.
My father was a heavy drinker and a genius and lived in his ivory tower. When I was a teenager we spent our summers in an artists' colony in Karelia, and he and I would go fishing and mushroom picking. I would hear his music growing out of our walks. I was proud of him at performances. He was never angry with me, but he was detached. I only realised how much I loved him after it was too late.
When I started to have boyfriends, my mother developed the typical evil stepmother syndrome and ruined every relationship I had. I realised it many years later, but of course a daughter of marriageable age implied that she was over the hill while she was still young enough to be the prettiest of them all. It is hard to imagine not being loved by one's mother, and it took me years to get free of her deadly grip on me. Even now I sometimes feel that she can get at me if she cared enough. Luckily, she pretends I don't exist. Nobody has hurt me as much as she did, and yet I am grateful for everything she did for me. I am not like her, but almost everything I am is her doing. Despite and not because.