It's a Messy Life | Letters | Chicago Reader

It's a Messy Life 

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To the editors:

In response to the story of "Mothers" [February 2]. I am one of the unfortunate "remorseful" and pitied unwed mothers and my son is the "pitied" and "doomed" child as painted by Karen Fort. And yes, I do not have an idealistic life, I'm 20, Hispanic, college student, and I suppose poor. But by no means am I a dismal caricature. Yes, I have given up quite a bit for my son, but it really doesn't compare to what joy he brings me.

The story kind of made me angry. I felt I was reading a string of justifications. There are harsh realities of unwanted children, and it is nice to plan children in healthy stable environments, but life is messy, and the responsibility now lies on our hands as potential parents. I completely understand how she feels about her two children now, they are joys. But when she was first pregnant they weren't nonexistent beings, they didn't wait around in limbo to be born.

I just wanted you to know that I do fit the author's criteria of having a miserable life. But my son and I have hope! I do have happiness and a social life, life is more complicated but I have no sadness or regret. Besides, fumbling around next to me is a smiling slobbery boy, how can you argue with that?

Kirsten Fischer

Batavia

Karen Fort replies:

You don't seem a bit like Cassie. And I didn't mean to hurt your feelings or make you angry. I wasn't arguing or making justifications; I told one story truly, paradox and all. Yes, life is gloriously messy and too complex for any one neat and tidy, black-and- white, abstract principle or dogma to always be right for all.

You and I both faced the same hard dilemma, as particular individuals, in differing, specific circumstances. I chose the path right for me and for my children who were born later. You chose the path right for you and your child. It can feel threatening for each of us to look at the other on the path not taken and be reminded of the price and the lost possibilities. But that doesn't mean we must scorn or condemn each other. We could extend our sympathies and support to each other, and wish each other well along the way.

We both chose to have the children we now have. For both of us, motherhood began with the human dignity of free will. So we can take pride in it and have a good chance of succeeding at it. Neither of us bore an unwanted child, which would have set us up for failure. Mindful of our responsibility as potential parents, both of us followed our hearts, and I feel sure that both of us will bring all our best to the challenge of raising our children well.

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