“If Abortion Was Legal, I Would Have Aborted You” — Mom
As a child growing up in the 1970s, my mother told me frequently that she would have aborted me if abortion was legal in 1969. Four years before Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal throughout the United States.
My parents got friendly during Thanksgiving weekend in 1968. After the New Year, they knew that they had — in today’s vernacular — an “oopsie” baby. An unplanned pregnancy by an older couple (my father was 34, my mother was 29) with an older child (my brother was 13).
The doctor told my mother that she was expecting twins.
A day after my maternal grandfather’s birthday in early August, she delivered a ten-pound bowling ball in one hour. I was so big and came out so fast that she needed 250 stitches. The latter she would hold against me for years to come.
My father stopped drinking and got a vasectomy. My mother started drinking and became an alcoholic.
At the end of kindergarten in 1975, my parents were called into the principal’s office. Since they couldn’t find a babysitter, they brought me along.
The principal distracted me by rolling a white sheet of paper into an IBM Selectric II typewriter on a rolling stand and showed me how to type my name. I stood mesmerized by the spinning ball that put black letters on the paper, sparking my love for typewriters and writing.
The principal broke the bad news to my parents: I was mentally retarded.
Except I wasn’t.
I had an undiagnosed high-frequency hearing loss in one ear that made it difficult for me to distinguish similar words.
Glass and grass, for example, confused me as a child. I later figured out that my mother threw glass beer bottles at my head and my brother smoked grass with his friends behind the garage.
My hearing wasn’t tested until 1978. By then it was too late. I was the proverbial fat kid on the short yellow bus.
The first student picked up at 6AM and the last student dropped off at 4PM. I hated going to school. I hated being treated like an idiot. I hated not learning anything. My mother and I fought constantly over going to school every morning.
She told me she would have aborted me if abortion was legal. Like the glass beer bottles thrown at my head, I took it in stride. Her negativity on life motivated me to overcome the deficiencies of my childhood as an adult.
Abortion was legal in California in 1969. But the law allowed abortions only for rape or incest victims and to save the life of the mother. Until Roe vs. Wade in 1973, oopsie babies weren’t legally aborted. I’ve always wondered if my family’s life would have been different if I wasn’t born.
My brother wouldn’t have discovered that my father wasn’t his biological father and become a goddamn hippie who got his 16-year-old girlfriend pregnant when he was 19. Abortion wasn’t an option for them since her family was Catholic. They had a proper shotgun wedding at the Hall of Justice.
My mother wouldn’t have become an alcoholic and my father would have drink himself into an early death like his older brothers.
Everything was perfect before I was born. So my mother told me.