Leslie Frame plays Finola

On Being a Woman with Choices

My great great grandmother, with two children and a drunk husband, found herself pregnant with her third at the age of 24. She knew that her small family could not afford to feed a third child. As she sat in her kitchen discussing this problem with her sister and mother, the hopelessness of her situation quickly became apparent to all three. She had no choice. No options to explore.

She could not chose to terminate her pregnancy in 1910, rural Indiana. She could not go out and get a job for extra income. Her only option was to try not to starve. Her mother, all at once and in what family lore has since agreed was a convoluted act of love, pushed her off the chair in which she was sitting in an attempt to make her miscarry.

She did, and died as a result of it. Just four short generations ago, my Great-Great Grandmother Berenice died for want of choices.

Here I am ninety eight years later. I find it odd that I look so much like the extant pictures of her and my problem is too many choices. Too many roads I could travel. Too many roads I am trying to travel simultaneously. Too many options to pick to be happy with one.

My Mother told me I could do anything I set my mind too. That the world was my oyster and I was very capable of cracking it. Trying to narrow my options down to what I want keeps my up at night.

Trying to embrace the options my mothers fought so hard to give me gives me heart palpitations. How can I commit to a life as an actress in Chicago when I might very well be a student in Paris or a tour guide in Rome or a mother on some quiet farm in some lovely corner of rural paradise?

Where I come from, today, here and now, women have more choices open to them than any of their mothers before them, and, it does not escape our collective conscience, more options than are still open to many of our sisters around this world.

The enormity of this, the responsibility of this can be at once exhilarating to contemplate and very sobering to face. We, as those women, are bound to make mistakes now and then, the mistakes that are intrinsic to any human life.

But we owe it to posterity to face each choice with courage and honesty, to take each step from a place of love.

Because we will never again be pushed from a place of fear.

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Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 5:44 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wow – what a sad story!


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