I waited until my third daughter turned two before taking the logical mathematical step of having my tubes tied. Tubal ligation. No more babies.
Lying on my back, I looked Dr. Simon straight in the eye–his diminutive height made this easier than it would have been if his beanpole six foot five inch partner, Dr. Zemel had drawn my surgery–and I said, “Cut them, burn them, mince them into teeny tiny bits, because if I get pregnant again I am coming after you for child support.”
Harsh, I know, but I meant every word. Too many babies killed love. Too many babies made moms crazy. My parents had six children—no, they weren’t Catholic—and their relationship consisted of my father demeaning my mother or yelling at her behind closed bedroom doors at night, mostly about money. My mother avoided, hid and lied her way to some vestige of safety from consequences, then spent years in the hospital for multiple surgeries, took too many pills, took too many of the wrong pills and ended up in the psych ward, and then spent years in therapy. Too many kids must have killed the love they had for each other. Too many kids must have murdered her peace and sanity.
I’d gotten it all wrong.
Fifteen years after I’d made that irrevocable decision, I leafed through my mother’s genealogy notebook. If my father had several forebears on the Mayflower and kept referring to my mother’s ancestors as Irish horse thieves and nappy-haired-who-knew-whats, my mother was determined to prove him wrong and she’d done a lot of research to show her peeps came just as early as his did and include Scottish and Irish nobility. So there!
But back to the notebook. I stared at my mother’s and father’s marriage license, looking for insight into a love gone wrong. Names the same. Married Glendale, California. My grandmother, Glaydus E Pearson as a witness. Date January 17th, 1946. January 1946?
Most children know their parent’s wedding anniversary. I certainly knew mine. Who could forget the date when my mother received new toilet seat covers or pillowcases before she moped around for the whole day? My parent’s wedding anniversary was August 22nd. And my sister Rhea, my oldest sister, had been born in 1945. 1945? Nine months before the date on this document slithering in its clear plastic sleeve.