Every family has its own mythology.
Sometimes these stories are a way to restore order to the world when there’s evidence of things that aren’t quite right.
Sometimes these stories are a way to inspire obedience.
Sometimes these stories are just for fun.
Sometimes these stories are told for one purpose but are later retold for another.
Now that we’re all adults it’s obvious that my sisters and I share the same genetic makeup, but when we were little girls this fact wasn’t so apparent. My sisters both have dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin, just like our parents. I was tow-headed, hazel-eyed and fair.
Recessive genes are really something, eh?
Katy had heard the term “milkman baby” on the bus, and in trying to place it in a context that made sense tacked it onto me.
“Get it? It’s because milk is white, and so are you!” she said.
Our parents weren’t as amused as Katy was.
“Carrie is no milkman baby,” our dad said.
“But she’s so pale,” Katy said.
“She is, but your sister is no milkman baby. She’s a wolf child,” our dad said.
“A wolf child?”
“One night, it must have been eight years ago, I was riding the train and noticed something on the tracks. As we got closer I saw that it was a little baby, so I climbed onto the front of the train and, just before the train hit her, scooped her aboard. I asked her who her parents were, but she just howled. That’s because your sister had been raised by wolves.”
“The wolves think so, too. At first I was going to take her back to them, but then I got to thinking about it and decided, you know, if they’re just going to let her wander out on the tracks they probably shouldn’t have a baby. So, I brought her home and now she’s ours. But sometimes late at night when we’re passing through that part of Arkansas, I can hear them howling, ‘Awoo! Where is our Noooooodle?'”
At this point our mom had heard enough.
“Carrie came out of me, just like you two did,” she said.
“But she doesn’t look like she did,” Katy countered.
“Yeah, well I was there, so that makes me the authority,” our mom said.
My sisters eventually dropped the milkman baby thing, but the wolf child story stuck around. It was retold every time my behavior was less than civil, and when I got older I started telling it to myself when I needed to feel fierce.