Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)
By Gregory Kane
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It’s true that I’ve always been good at acrobatics. I love the rolls and tucks and dramatic leaps. My mother tells me that I began my gymnastics career in the womb, wriggling around so much that I literally tied myself in knots. My plummeting heartbeat led to an emergency Caesarean section and a few knife thrusts later I was dragged unceremoniously into the world. It was just bad luck that the surgeon was a trainee doing his first Caesarean and that he didn’t make a wide enough cut. The tear that ensued left my mother in agony for months. Then, to add insult to injury, the intern did such a lousy job of stitching her up, one end of the wound became infected and oozed gobs and gobs of pus. My mother, saint that she is, didn’t even bother to sue.
Of course I have no memory of those early days. Every time I hollered to be fed, my mother grimaced through the pain eating away at her abdomen. It didn’t help matters either when I cut my first tooth at only four months. I chewed on those nipples until they bled. Any normal woman would have given up and dragged out the formula milk powder. But my mother was secretary of our town’s natural breastfeeding council, and there was no way she was going to repudiate her principles just because she had to suckle a changeling with incisor fangs.
When I was four, I was impossible. My temper tantrums would have made Attila the Hun look like a genteel lord of the manor. My favourite trick was to lie on the floor of the supermarket, kicking my heels and pounding my little fists against the tiles. They gave such a marvellous echo that every shop assistant came running from miles around to see what was amiss. And of course the one who had to endure the tuts of disapproval was my poor mother!
I pushed her down the stairs once when I was five and a half. I had just been sent to my room for some minor misdemeanour involving spattered egg yolks and my bothersome baby brother. My mother must have been having a particularly bad day because she snapped at me from the top of the stairs. Tom would be allowed pizza for supper, she announced, while I would have to settle for bread and butter. I saw red and exploded out of my room like an express train on amphetamines. The collision sent my mother flying down the staircase to land in a heap at the bottom. She broke two bones in her leg and one in her wrist. To this day I don’t know how she found the grace to forgive me.
The teenage years are difficult for any parent and I was to be no exception. Looking back, I can see that my mini-skirt was strong on the ‘mini’ and weak on the ‘skirt’. At least my boobs were well wrapped up - the modern craze for bare midriffs would have seen me laid up in hospital with pneumonia. But boy did my legs shiver on those long walks home from the neighbourhood parties! It was only a matter of time before this lead to a major confrontation with my parents. Dad ducked out as he always does, leaving my mother to tackle me on the subtle differences between fashion and decency. Mum lost. It was four days before I made it back home. I think that they had just about got ready to start pasting my photo on milk cartons when I shuffled ever so nervously through the front door. My mother was so relieved to see me, she plain forgot to be mad.
My baby is due in another six weeks. It’s exciting but terrifying at the same time. My mother has been fantastic. In spite of all her worries I didn’t end up a teenage mum. Steve took me to the altar like a true gentleman and we went a full year before deciding to start a family. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like. I know that I’m not at all ready. I’ve asked my mother what she’s most looking forward to about becoming a grandmother. But all she does is smile and give me this really enigmatic reply. I mean like - revenge – what sort of answer is that?
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