I was an accident. I didn’t realize it until I was 20 years old. All my life I’d heard stories about how I was born a couple of months premature, but at 6 lbs., 11 oz., I’m pretty sure I was an average weight for a full-term, Filipino baby girl. I’m 5’1″, which I believe is an average height for a Filipina, while my younger sister is 5’0″. She weighed less than me when she was born, and even though I was only 8 at the time, I’m pretty certain she wasn’t premature. Eventually, I put 2 and 2 together.
I was living with my parents when I was 20, and I asked my paternal grandmother, who lived with us, if my mom was pregnant when my parents got married. She said to talk to them. I asked her repeatedly, and she kept saying the same thing. I became more suspicious. My grandma ALWAYS answered my questions, whether it was about our extended family, or what was for dinner.
As we were sitting down to supper, I asked my mom. Instead of answering, she smacked me in the eye with a large serving spoon. Hurt (literally) and angry, I stormed into my room and slammed the door. Minutes later, my dad entered. He confirmed my suspicions, and said that he and my mom were already engaged when she got pregnant. He admitted that his father, a doctor, offered to put them in contact with someone who could provide “an out,” but according to my dad, they didn’t take it because they wanted me. Besides, the Philippines is a very Catholic country, and my mom was devout. They were married in December 1968, and I was born in July 1969.
All my life, even into adulthood, my parents fought — about everything, They argued because my mom wanted my dad to go to church, which, if he did, was always tardy and stood in the back. If one of them had an opinion about something, the other would surely disagree. They blamed each other for their kids’ misbehaviors. You name it.
After learning the truth, and based on my parents’ relationship, I always wondered if my mom resented my dad for getting her pregnant, thus “forcing” her to marry him. My parents eventually divorced when I was in my early 30s. I imagine they didn’t do it sooner because again, my mom was a devout Catholic.
My mother and I did not have a good relationship (which I hope to write about in the future), and I often wondered if she resented me because I was unplanned. And she could hold a grudge: 2 years ago, when she was in the end stages of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), my dad wanted to see her to say good-bye. She refused.
I believe that a lot of the difficulties between my mother and me stemmed from the accident. Throughout my life, even when I became an adult, she often called me an embarrassment. I guess in her Catholic-inspired worldview, her getting pregnant with me before marriage was, indeed, an embarrassment.
Has one or both of your parents ever felt you were embarrassing?
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