It was a feminist literature class. On the contemporary reading list was The Joy Luck Club. A book chock full of mother/daughter relationships.
An interview with your mother.
The questions we were required to ask were predictable. How did you meet my father? Why did you choose marriage at that time in your life? What was your life like before kids? How far did you take your education? What did you learn from your mother about parenting?
What was your reaction when you heard you were pregnant with me?
Huh? Did I hear her right? Did she really say defeat?
I knew I didn’t really want to hear any more. A glutton for punishment, I asked her to explain.
“Well. When I married your father I knew I wanted to go to college. He wanted to start a family right away. So I made a deal with him. We would have sex one night in the month of March. He could pick the night. If I got pregnant, fine. We’d start having kids. If not, I could start school.”
“I was looking through college catalogs and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Then I realized I was a few days late for my period. I knew your father had won. So I threw the catalogs in the trash and here you are.”
A consolation prize?
“You know. I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”
Four times. What were you thinking?
“You kids kept me from getting my degree for 10 years. But, I eventually got it. So I guess it all worked out, right?”
Your response explains a lot. It explains the heavy sighs. The crabby days. How we always seemed in your way. Why we all scurried every time you came home. Your nightly vodka tonics. How some days you could barely look at us.
But it didn’t work out.
Not for me, anyway.
And when you completely forgot my birthday this year? No card. No phone call.
At least now.
I know why.