The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Hell is the Place Where I Grew Up

I have just returned from the seventh layer of hell. Winnipeg, Canada. It would not be so bad except the devil herself lives there, my mother.

When people ask if she is still alive I respond with a smile, “Yes, evil never dies.” I am too harsh you suggest. Well, as I struggled in the door with two exhausted five-year-olds and a suitcase of epic proportions, I was greeted with the always welcome dissecting look and the ever familiar one-two of, “You look less heavy,” and “Is that hair on your top lip?”

There is no real physical contact, God forbid. I mean we are British: the air kiss will suffice thank-you-very-much. My mother is a perfect combination of Ursula the sea witch and Miss Havisham.

While she has never murdered (although her glance has be known to wither many an unwitting victim) she is the female embodiment of Dorian Gray. She was once beautiful on the outside, but her bitterness and vitriol have finally seeped to the surface and are now permanently etched, like acid on stone across her face.

We visit my brother who has married the horse-head nebula. Not only does she have an uncharacteristically large, horse-like head, but she is also an internationally known expert on everything: a veritable black hole of knowledge. The Winnipeg School of Cosmetology must be one hell-of-a place for higher learning.

For example, on my trip I learned that Miguel is Mexican for Michael. She tells this to my husband whose last name is Garza and who had rapidly, and I might say uncharacteristically, developed a keen interest in hands-on-parenting.

Moments later I see him in the backyard two-fisting Moosehead beer. I silently work on my testimony for the jury; surely I can get one mother to agree that strangling him with the diaper bag was justifiable.

Then there are the mosquitoes so large they are fondly known as the provincial bird. So while my mother asks if I should really eat that cake and I learn conversational Spanish, I am loosing the war against the Kamikaze fighters of the hemo-armada. Apparently no one sprays anymore: West Nile virus and western equine encephalitis being preferable to DEET.

When I was little we used to ride our bikes behind the trucks that fogged this winged plague, daring each other to see who could breathe in the vapors the longest. It was far less toxic than anything I could breathe at home.

We finally escape Satis House and make it to the airport. I rush my children and husband through immigration and warn them not to look back. No good can come of it. We can all learn from Lot’s wife.

But the fates are not done with us.

Landing in Denver in the Tonka-toy excuse for a jet we are rebuked minutes from landing. The plane stalls and drops, as does my heart. “In case you were wondering,” the captain nervously jokes, “That’s wind-shear.” So we circle and come around again. Not more than fifty feet above the tarmac the aircraft stalls again and precipitously lurches nose down causing inappropriately large carry-ons surreptitious sowed beneath legs to fly around the cabin.

I forget that I am now back among Americans, so the clearly the rules apply to NO ONE on this plane. The pilot manages to pull up again and we circle for one more kick at the can. Even the seasoned business travelers and the burly fishermen back from their man-spa-week-long-fish-in-a-barrel-pike-fest in the waters of Northern Manitoba look queasy.

I close my eyes.

Seriously, after all this I am going to die coming home? Stop the boat, river man; I am going to walk the rest of the way.

By Jennifer Gunter

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Wow. Jennifer, your blog has left me breathless. Intense writing that reads like the opening to a book I want to keep reading.
Oh, my, I think I've wet myself...thanks for the saber-edged insights, aka "The Truth."
"Snappy!" That was the first thing that came in to my mind for some reason. Funny -- thanks for sharing.
Yikes! A scary mother and plane ride all in one day. Find a friend who has a nice mother and ask her to adopt you. Life is too short to put up with what you have been dealt.
I'm a 61 yr old nice mom who has four adopted daughters that can not relate to their moms. Mama Mary
Incredible use of humor to tackle a searing experience! David Sedaris would be impressed.

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