Featured in Nature vs. Nurture

Mama

Home Sweet Home

"To you who feel like a stranger in your own house.

You’re loved.

You’ll find your home full of love where no one sees it. Don’t give up." -SA

As a kid I loved pretending I was pregnant; it made me feel like a woman.

When my nonni—grandparents—were in Italy to take care of me, my grandmother and I would often put my volleyballs under our shirts and pretend we were pregnant. We would sit at the park or in my room and talk for hours about pregnancy and choose names for our unborn babies.

The first time I decided I wanted to be pregnant we were at the park; I shoved my ball under my shirt and I held it in place with my hands. I’ve always wanted a twin sister so, of course, I told my nonni that I was expecting twins. They both laughed, they never thought I was being silly or ridiculous. They cuddled me while they made predictions about the sex of the twins. They even jokingly started a little fight and decided to bet on the twins’ sex. I loved them and every time they had to go back to Manchester I felt lost without them.

I despised my parents' rigor and strictness. I didn’t like my babysitter either; she was just like mother.

I was happy with my grandparents. At eight I already knew the difference between being carefree and happy, and being restricted and self-conscious. Thanks to my lovely parents, of course.

That day, when I got home for dinner, I quickly washed my hands and sat at the dining table. Mother and Father were already there; they were waiting for me to start eating. I was late. Dinner was at 7 PM and I had got home at quarter to eight. I wasn’t sorry, at all. I had spent the afternoon with my amazing grandparents and I had had fun. I knew Mother and Father would be angry at me. I knew that Mother would try to make me feel guilty by sending annoyed stares in my direction and by completely ignoring me. I saw the waves of hatred her body was releasing towards me. I was ready to receive all that; I was learning how to block out her stares, her words even. How to block the shame and the guilt. I ate slowly; everything was grey and tasteless. I already missed my grandparents. Every bite was hard to swallow; I felt like I was eating her anger; I couldn’t take it but I had to; I couldn’t swallow but I had to. I had to eat everything on my plate.

After dinner I silently went in my room to play. My parents were downstairs having an "adult talk." "Adult talk," I rolled my eyes. They expected me to behave as a grown respectful woman, but I couldn’t sit with them while they talked because I was too young for that. That makes sense, absolutely.

“Amber, baby, please come down stairs.” I know you’re presuming my lovely mother just asked me to join them. I’m sorry to disappoint you: that wasn’t my mother; Mother calls me Amber, young lady, or by my full name Amber Marie Rose Pike. Only my nonni called me baby. Mother thought it was ridiculous and Father agreed—as always. Since nonna Jocelyn was calling me, I rushed downstairs, forgetting that running was forbidden in my parents' house. “I did not name her baby, please, Jocelyn, call her by her name.” I still couldn’t understand why she was so formal and rigid with her own mother. “And you, young lady, stop running! Are you out of your mind? Does this house look like a playground to you? Have some respect!” Mother had this scary superpower: she whisper-shouted. “Ivy, for Peter’s sake, stop being so poisonous.” Grandpa Arthur picked me up from the spot I had froze on; I hadn’t even realized that I had froze the moment she whisper-shouted at me. They were always by my side. Always ready to defend me. Father, on the other side, was silent. A man of few words really. A man who loved his wife so much he never contradicted her, especially when she was wrong. I wonder if his co-workers would still respect him as much as they do if they knew how submissive he is to his wife. A great and powerful business man. A silent and compliant husband.

Bewitched by Poison Ivy.

“Remove that ball immediately!” the whisper-shouter always found something wrong to call me out for. “I’m pregnant, Mother; I’m just pretending, Mother. You won’t become a grandmother, don’t worry.” I naïvely said. “Amber, listen to your mother please, it’s not appropriate. You shouldn’t pretend to be pregnant. It’s not a game.” Denzel Rose Pike was unsurprisingly taking mother’s side. I obeyed focusing on my grandparents and cutting my parents' faces out of my mind.

A puppet moved by posh puppeteers.

“It was just a game, Ivy. You were a kid too, you know. She is just a child. Your child. What’s wrong with you?” They were still arguing; Grandpa was defending me. I couldn’t cut out their voices from my room. “My child, exactly! I treat her how I think it’s right. I raise her my way. Why should she pretend to be pregnant? Why should I let my eight-year-old kid have pregnancy thoughts?” Ivy Fray Rose Park was fuming, I could sense it from her tone; she was struggling to whisper-shout. She was clearly unaware of what was about to happen just a month later.

“We raised you better than that, Ivy.” Grandma’s voice was melodious and clear even when she was tired or angry.

Mother did not like that I was pregnant, even though I was just pretending.

I wonder how Poison Ivy will react now.

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