“Your job in life is not to please your mother”

“Hi, sweetheart, I wanted to call you on New Year’s Eve to wish you a Happy New Year.”

“Oh, Dad, that’s cool. Thanks for calling. You never call me.”

“Well, I thought I should, given the situation. I hear from your grandmother that you’re upset because you haven’t heard from your mother.”

“That’s right.”

“Well, don’t let her get you down. She’s got to work this one out on her own, honey, and it’s just taking her a while. You know it has nothing to do with you, don’t you?”

A silence drifted between them.

“Christy, you’re not blaming yourself, are you?”

“Geez, Dad,” said Christy, choking back tears, “it’s hard not to. Mom’s never done anything like this before. We used to talk nearly every day.”

“Your mother’s in a tough place, sweetheart. She’s having to recon­cile her decision to have you with your decision to have an abortion. That’s a big deal. She keeps talking about her first grandchild.”

“Oh, no, that’s horrible.”

“Yeah, but predictable.”

“But why can’t she just, I don’t know, cut me some slack? I didn’t plan this. It was a total accident. I don’t want to have an abortion. I have to have an abortion.”

“I understand. I don’t want you to feel guilty. Do you hear me?”

“I’m trying not to, Dad.”

“Trying is not good enough. I’m telling you to stop feeling guilty. That’s an order.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You don’t sound convinced.”

“Because I do feel guilty. About upsetting Mom and about getting pregnant in the first place.”

“Don’t do that to yourself, Christy. Your job in life is not to please your mother. You have to lead your own life. Honey, we all know you didn’t try to get pregnant.”

“I know, but Mom and I have always been so close. I hate to disappoint her.”
“Princess, the biggest part of your mother’s problem is that she believes what the church teaches — that abortion is murder and a mortal sin. Personally, I don’t ascribe to that.”

“You don’t?”

“No, I don’t. And I’ve been talking with Olive — she’s one of the nurses here — and she remembers when abortion was illegal and women used to die. She’s got me to thinking. I’ve come to the conclusion that every person has the right to self-defense, and abortion is an act of self-defense for women who don’t want to be pregnant. You have the right to defend your own life and to put yourself first. If you don’t want to be a mom now, that’s your right.”

“Oh, wow, Dad. That’s huge. I’ll have to think about that. Have you told Mom?”

“No, honey, that would only make her ballistic now. I’ll have to wait a while. But you should know that she’s going to Liz’s tomorrow for a New Year’s party. I’m hoping Liz will be able to talk some sense into her.”

“So I’ve just got to wait it out?”

“Yes, my darling songbird, I’m afraid you do.”

“That’s not one of my strong suits.”

“Mine neither.”

“So I inherited that from you?”

“Probably, honey, though your mom’s not the Queen of Patience, either. Hey, if it makes you feel better, blame everything on me.”

“You’re cute, Dad.”

“I wish.”

“No, for a 37-year-old dude, you are cute. But I didn’t mean it literally, Dad. I meant it figuratively.”

“Whatever. I accept all the compliments I can get.”

“So how are you going to celebrate tonight, Dad?”

“The nurses are making a party on the floor, which should be a real whoop-de-do. Your mother’s chaperoning a party that J.J. and Matt are attending at the high school. Amy’s with your grandmother. And I’ll probably watch the ball drop at midnight alone. What are you up to?”

“Skye’s giving a party. I have brownies in the oven.”

“Nice, honey. Enjoy. Remember: Your mother and I love you very much, and we always will. That’s why this is so hard for her — because she loves you so much.”

“I know, Dad. I love you, too. Hey, call me again sometime. This was fun.”

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