This is another story my mother has told me often enough that it is ingrained in my memory. The event described happened when I was too young to be able to recall it myself. I have to marvel at which events my mother chose to memorialize by telling and re-telling them. I marvel because there is incriminating evidence in her stories if one looks at them from an objective view. This particular story is one she told me numerous times, but I really have no idea if she told it to others. I'll have to ask my cousin if she has heard this one.
I was between ages one and two. We were living in the upstairs apartment I described in another post from my early childhood. North Hollywood, CA. I toddled out the door onto the landing and then took a plunge down the fifteen or so concrete steps to ground level. My cry brought my plight to my mother's attention. She scooped me up and ran inside. She picked up the phone.
Whom did she call?
It might seem like a good time to call a doctor.
This is where the story sharply diverges from what a truly concerned mother would do. No, she didn't call a doctor; she called her sister. She quickly points out the logic of calling her sister...her sister is a nurse. (This particular sister has very strong N traits and may very well be N too.)
My mother is careful to emphasize at this point in the story her extreme concern for me. She is worried I might have a concussion. Her sister also raises the possibility that I have a concussion and so gives my mother advice based on that possibility. "D, it is very important that you keep her awake. If she does fall asleep then you must watch her carefully to make sure she doesn't stop breathing." At this point in the story my mother emphasizes again her concern which was now raised to the level of near panic.
Then she paints the picture of the loving, concerned mother who sat by my crib all night long to make sure I didn't stop breathing. Morning arrived and I was still alive. What relief!! Then more emphasis on what a frightening experience it was for her. Her baby almost died. Obviously, I didn't almost die, but had I been seriously injured in the fall I could easily have died given the fact that my mother didn't seek real medical attention for me.
Now I have questions when I think this story over. First of all, how is it that my mother lost track of her small child long enough for the child to escape out the door and take a dive down the stairs? I realize that small children can move very quickly and even the best parents can lose track of them momentarily. Nevertheless, it is still her fault that this happened. We lived in a small apartment at the time. My mother had no other children to keep track of. What the hell was she doing?? I suspect she had a consciousness of guilt because of how she purposely avoided getting a doctor involved even though there was reason enough for concern about a possible life-threatening injury. The other factor that can't be ruled out is that she didn't want the expenditure. The pattern that developed during the rest of my childhood is that my parents never took me to a doctor no matter the seriousness of the injury of sickness.
One exception, if I can call it that. I was five years old and came down with a very bad case of bronchitis. My mother relented after several days of a high fever and delirium and took me to a Chinese chiropractor that she had gone to as a child. Dr. So. I have no idea how his last name was spelled, but it was pronounced So. He gave her a nasty and horribly bitter concoction for me to take every day for weeks. Every time I took it I wanted to vomit. I was out of school for six whole weeks and returned to school very weak and tired. The teacher begged my mother to take me out of school and restart me in first grade the next year. I was so young anyway, the teacher pointed out. I had missed six weeks of school at the very outset of the school year and I'm almost a year younger than the rest of my classmates. My mother was insulted at the suggestion that I be kept home for the year. She tells this story because she then says, "this is when I knew for sure what a bright child you were." She is proud of her decision. She is proud because I was able to easily catch up and do just fine that school year. She knew better than the teacher what a shining bright star student her daughter was. I was able to reflect well onto my mother by my academic achievement. She was right, that teacher was wrong.
The only other doctor visit I can remember was a tooth-cleaning at age three. And a dentist visit at age 13 for a cavity. That's it.
Back to the original event. While she uses this story to emphasize her great motherly concern for her precious baby, the story she tells actually portrays a mother who didn't care enough. She is worried enough to stay the night by my crib, but not willing to take me to a hospital for monitoring. I think that the only thing she was worried about was how horrible of a mother she was going to look like if 1) she took me to a doctor and had to admit to her inattentiveness that allowed the accident in the first place, and 2) What were people going to think of her as a mother if she ended up with a dead baby in the morning? Would she be accused of abusing her baby? Was there already evidence against her on that account? Her worries were all self-concentric. Her baby only represented possible evidence of her lack of mothering skills if by my death or serious injury she was revealed to be negligent. She is the center of this story. I am peripheral.
This story of my mother's great motherly concern for her baby is just more evidence of her neglect of me. In typical narcissist fashion, this story is really all about her. Her feelings. Her worry. Her heroism (all night vigil). Her relief. Oh, and by the way, my father would have come home from work that evening. It is very likely my mother told him of the fall. He could not have failed to notice my mother watching me sleep. I notice he didn't insist that I be taken to a doctor. He was every bit as guilty as she for the neglect of my physical well-being. He is without excuse.
I am convinced that if I had been born with a birth defect or been seriously and/or mortally injured that I may not have survived childhood. The medical neglect of my youth was complete and total. Thankfully, I had a strong constitution and tended to not court danger with stupid childhood stunts. I have a high tolerance for pain and learned not to complain about pain, sickness or injury. Thanks, ma.
If I revisit this topic again I'll talk about how it was often treated like a sin to get sick. This was more and more the case the older I became.