A cold day in February 1965 and I was born. When you’re born in February in the Northeast of the United States that’s not unusual. It’s pretty much the way every one of my birthdays played out afterward. Luck of the draw I guess.
My biological mother had been living away from home, likely in one of the Catholic “care” centers for unwed mothers and she went into labor. I can’t imagine what she was feeling or thinking. I like to hope that someone was there with her, but in all my reading about young girls giving birth in places like this, I suspect she was alone with the medical staff and a nun or two.
It should be obvious that I have no recollection of this moment in time. I don’t know how long I worked to make my way into the bright lights of that stark hospital room in Newark and I have no idea if my biological mother held me, or looked into my eyes or stroked my face.
Since it’s my made up memory I like to think she looked at me closely and told me to head out into the world and not take any crap from anyone. She may also have instructed me to be my own person and to be a good person. I feel certain she wanted me to be strong, independent and happy. I can feel that in my bones.
Had I grown up with her I suspect we may have been too much alike to get along, but looking back, I’m grateful for those admonishments she no doubt gave me to head out into the world without her.
History books tell us that in 1965 the world was at a crossroads – there were the mores and rules of “good” society pushing against the coming wave of “love-ins” and hippies. It was the year that skirts were getting shorter, Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery and the Vietnam war was worsening. In short, it wasn’t much different from the world I’m living in today. We’re still struggling with civil rights, wars are waging around the world and no matter where you look someone is ready to tell you what your morals ought to be.
However, one thing is different. There is less stigma attached to becoming pregnant without being married. Reality TV embraces it, in fact.
In 1965 “good” girls supposedly didn’t have babies if they weren’t married. Yet, they did. Good girls had babies. And that’s how I got here.