Elizabeth had not called home in weeks. She was therefore not the person Delia expected when she opened the door. “Oh. Hi darling. What are you doing home? That’s a surprise!” Mother and daughter had not yet mastered the art of interacting as adults. Their hug was clumsy. Elizabeth had been crying, Delia noticed, as she led her grown child into the kitchen. “Is everything ok?” she asked there, where she had spoonfed Elizabeth cereal only 19 years ago. With a pang of regret Delia wondered if Elizabeth would ever return the favor and carefully maneuver spoonfulls of mashed potatoes into her demented mother. The answer to that would likely be no. The honest answer is hardly ever the one you would like to hear. “I am pregnant.” Delia held on to the table and navigated into a chair. “Are you sure?” The repugnant look in her daughter’s eyes stated that yes, she was pregnant, and why else would she have shown up at her childhood home? Delia saw all options clearly laid out. The honest one in this case was the sensible one, as well. Slightly inconvenient, sure, but then they had passed the millenium and nobody would have to eat pureed foods any time soon. Delia tried to vividly imagine what kind of reaction Elizabeth was hoping for. “What do you want to do? Keep it?” she blurted out. It might not have been sensitive. It was a task-oriented approach. A nod to their family’s Northern European ancestry. “I don’t know!” Elizabeth started crying again. Of course, both women knew that Elizabeth was well aware of what she wanted to do, or she wouldn’t have come home to consult Delia.
But when Elizabeth looked up at her mother with her swollen, crimson face and asked her “But could you get rid of it? Could you really?”, the honest answer was not the one Delia could choose. How does one tell one’s own daughter that yes, you could get rid of a fetus, you have and you would again in a heartbeat. Would Elizabeth not think it was then a mere accident, an unruly arrangement of circumstances that lead to her earthly existence? (And it was. The honest answer to THAT question was out then, too). “You have options, Elizabeth. I am supporting you in your choice.” The real question was not how her daughter got into this mess, because this was fairly clear. Elizabeth had given in to her biologically programmed body, and good for her. Now, if she had only had felt slightly repressed by societal or parental expectations. Maybe she would have remembered to protect her uterus from any invaders. Delia was unable to view herself as a failed mother. She had done what she could, and she carefully placed the phone in her daughter’s hand. “Just call. You’ll get an appointment right away.”