Back in the 1980s, when I was a baby, my mother saved my life.
As I was the firstborn, she was new to motherhood, still doing everything properly. I would have been swathed in clean, hand-knitted blankets, free of vomit stains. I don’t have children, but from what I can work out, if you have more than one it becomes a sniff-test sort of operation. Sure, the onesie is dirty, but it smells ok. It’ll do. I just want sleep! And for these little crying bastards to go to sleep already!
(I am totally built for motherhood).
So my mother was carrying me down the steps of a convenience store, probably on her way to a tupperware party or to buy some parachute pants. Then, disaster struck! She slipped – maybe her Doc Martens had a loose shoelace, maybe her shoulder pads were unfastened – and started to fall. Her instincts kicked in and she twisted her body to save me, falling on her ankle and needing a hospital visit. Meanwhile, I was fine.
I don’t remember this happening, but I was reminded about it several times throughout my childhood. Apparently“guilt” is a good emotion to foster in one’s children if you want them to listen to you.
Well, as it turns out, her instincts were genetic. A few years ago, I was descending the stairs in my flat, holding a plate of crumpets topped with warm honey.
Halfway down, my left foot landed strangely. Trying to right myself, I twisted sideways, and started to fall. Now, I could have let go of the plate and grabbed the rail. But I didn’t. Instincts kicked in, and I twisted my ankle to the side, keeping the crumpets and the plate parallel to the floor for the entire descent. At the bottom, crumpled in a heap, my ankle was definitely in need of medical attention, but both crumpets remained safe.
I was off work for a week.
Two years ago I was at a party. In my hand I held a plastic cup filled with wine. We can assume the wine was bought from the supermarket, using the formula of “IF wine cost is less than $10 THEN purchase” (one of my most trusted formulae). So, ignoring the cost of the plastic cup (negligible) the highest possible value we can assign to the item in my hand is $2. Two dollars. Two New Zealand dollars, so for any Americans reading, it was essentially… free.
I walked outside to check on the status of the sausages grilling on the barbecue. I was obviously focusing too much on the smell of hot meat (that’s what she said) because I didn’t notice there were steps down the path. Foot went out from under me. My arm instinctively went rigid, saving the worthless cup of wine, avoiding the tree branch I could have grabbed to steady myself.
I spent six hours in the hospital waiting room.
Like mother, like daughter.