by Ms Iforma
I am 27 years old now, and as a mother of two, I am constantly trying to be the best mother I can be.
Constantly evaluating my parenting skills, inevitably comparing it with that of my parents.
Sometimes, unwelcome memories come bursting forth. I am terrified of turning into my mother.
I remember that day with such clarity. I was only 8 years old.
My mother had always been somewhat abusive, physically and verbally, but that day she outdid herself in every way imaginable.
I was at school, it was after hours (for primary students), and I was waiting for my older brother to finish classes so our mother would pick us up.
That was the usually arrangement, except for Tuesdays, when my brother had after-school activities and would stay even later than usual, in which case my mother would pick me up first and then come for him later.
That day, I had forgotten that it was Tuesday, and instead of heading to the school gates, I went to the Library, which is where I usually spent my hour waiting for my brother everyday, reading.
I remember deciding to leave a little early and walk around until the bell rang because the weather was so nice, and the moment I stepped out of the library I saw a sight that made my blood run cold.
My mother was standing some distance away from the doors and she looked positively livid.
I was always terrified of my mother’s bad moods, because she would hurt me, yell, dig her nails into my arms and leave scars, call me stupid and pathetic.
I was always terrified of making mistakes, and I often did. With my head always buried in a book, I daydreamed a lot and was generally absent-minded.
Anyway, there she was, her face filled with rage.
I instantly remembered what day it was and realized my mistake.
I had kept her waiting for about 30 minutes. She took one look at me, turned on her heel and charged out of the school doors without looking back.
I followed her at once.
She got into the car and I immediately joined her.
She slammed the door.
I cowered in the seat, clutching my bag against my chest.
She drove for a good 5 minutes before she parked in an empty parking lot, turned around, and started striking my head with one heel of her shoe.
I remember the shock and terror, the shame I felt at being a bad child who always upset her mother.
My mother kept slamming the pointed heel of her shoe into my skull, till I began to see fireworks.
Over and over and over, she kept on hitting me.
I remember thinking, as she hit me, that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.
Then I felt something warm drip into my left eye.
I saw the dark liquid staining the heel of her blue shoe. It took me a while to register that it was blood.
I was bleeding. I kept on crying.
Alarm bells went off then, but my mother didn’t seem to notice until I held my palm out, covered in blood.
I screamed over and over to get her attention.
I couldn’t stop screaming. She finally dropped her shoe and started crying too.
She sped to the nearest hospital.
On our way there, she apologized repeatedly, her voice filled with panic and remorse.
I just felt numb.
I remember lying in the back of the car, dazedly watching the palm trees flit by the car windows.
She carried me into the hospital, and screamed for help. The nurses ran over and asked what happened.
At that point my hair was matted with blood, dark-brown blood, and the left side of my face and shoulder were dripping with it.
My mother stammered that I had tripped on the stairs and fell.
While the doctor snipped the hair around the wound my mother kissed my face over and over and whispered “Sorry”.
She begged me to tell my father that I tripped on the stairs and fell.
And that was our story.
Except for my brother — I confessed to him later that day while we were on the couch, watching cartoons.
He kept asking me how I fell on the stairs and I eventually told him I didn’t.
That mom got mad because I forgot it was Tuesday and kept her waiting after school.
He sat there in shock, not saying anything, but he let me hang out in his room that day.
I never told anyone else, but this memory becomes fresh in my mind every single time my mother says something hurtful, or when I yell at my son and see the fear in his eyes.
I feel a familiar rage bubbling at the pit of my stomach and that terrifies me a lot.
I always go to the closest room, shut the door and take deep breaths.
I would never hurt my kids. It hurts to think that my mother didn’t love me enough to not hurt me that day.
Or all the days before it and after it.
It’s been so long now, but I just had to tell someone my story.
Because even after all these years it still hurts to think about it.
I almost didn’t want children. It hit me when I took this psychology course at college, and we read an article about a woman who was afraid to have children because her parents abused her as a child.