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Three Generations – An Individual Study

On this page, I will be sharing the components that make up my individual study (IS) during my final semester at the University of Mary Washington. This IS is comprised of the stories of three women in three consecutive generations in three different formats.

Judy’s Story

Joan’s Story

For Abigail:

I know my cursive is hard to read, so here is what the excerpts from diary read as:

10/17/97 – Today I finally gathered the courage to take the test… it’s positive. I took 3 tests… all positive. I felt shocked at first, but now I’m just scared. I don’t know how Sam will take the news. He doesn’t want kids and always says he’ll leave if I’m pregnant. I’m planning on telling him Sunday after I go to church with Mom. God, I don’t want to do this on my own.

10/28/97 – Sam left me Sunday. He said my pregnancy was my fault and it was my responsibility to “take care of it.” It stung. But I’ve told my mom and she said she would support me and my

baby if I kept [it]. I’ve decided I will keep the baby. The little bean deserves a chance, even if Sam doesn’t see it.

I’m going to the doctors next week. I won’t know its gender just yet, but I am getting so excited to have a “mini me” around.

Since Sam left, I have had time to think about what I will do with my mini me when he or she is here. We can go to my favorite ice cream place in town. I can teach them to ice skate. And so much more!

I’m a little nervous for the actual birth. I’ve heard some horror stories.

I suppose I need to start coming up with name ideas.

08/25/98 – I’ve been home with my little Abigail for 3 days. She’s been a part of this world for 5. She had a bit of a rough entry into the world, but I know she is going to flourish. I can’t wait to share my life with her.

My contractions started on August 19th. Shortly after they began, I had severe back pain and began to bleed. I went straight to the hospital, where they told me I was experiencing placental abruption. They were able to induce labor, and I had my beautiful daughter at 2:34AM on August 20th. She had me scared there for a few hours. I thought I was going to lose her. My mother was there with me through it all, holding my hand. I’m so glad she could be there with me. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her.

I’m temporarily living with my mom while Abigail and I get on our feet. Mom has been really good about showing me the ins and outs of motherhood, like changing

diapers. At this point we’re practically co=parenting Abigail.

I wonder if the little one will want to go by Abby.

Abby and I will stay with my mom as long as we need to. Mom told me we can stay as long as we need to. Since I lost my job, Mom has been a huge help.

I’m hoping to find something else so I can get me and Abby a little apartment.

Little Abby already looks just like me. When you hold up the baby pictures next to one another, it’s hard to tell the difference, other than Abby’s distinctive nose that she got from her father. I haven’t heard from him since I told him I was pregnant, but I’m going to try to hunt him down so he can meet her.

12/03/98 – Things have been tough lately. I love Abby, and she is growing fast. I just didn’t realize how hard it would be to be a mother. I hardly ever have time for myself anymore. I get that Abby is just a baby, but sometimes I wish I could have a break. If I could afford a long-term sitter, I’d travel. I want to see the world.

I just feel stuck.

Sam came to see Abby. It was the first time I’d seen him since he left. They played for maybe a half hour before he left. I know he doesn’t want to be a parent, but I appreciate him coming by. Besides, it was nice to see him. He asked me to go to dinner. I think I will. I miss him.

Abby laughs a lot. She doesn’t like when I leave her alone to do laundry. Mom steps in a lot, but I

am exhausted.

06/06/99 – It’s finally getting warmer out. I got Abby some little swimsuits. We are going to the lake this weekend. I got her a little floaty.

I moved into a little apartment with a roommate. It’s much harder without Mom’s help. She babysits a lot. Yesterday we took pictures of Abby in the park. She is so cute.

Been working at the IGA in town. Mom watches Abby most of the time. When she can’t, I pay a high schooler to watch her. It’s difficult, but I’m making ends meet.

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09/30/14 –

I don’t know how to begin this. I guess the best place to start is with I’m sorry. That can’t possibly make up for the years of my absence, but I’m hoping that I can at least explain why I left. And maybe you’ll find it in you to forgive me. Maybe you won’t. I’ll be here regardless, and if you choose to let me back into your life, I’d love to be a part of it.

            I suppose the story begins a long time before you were born. I met your father, Sam, about two years before I had you. At this point in my life, I had been alone for years. I hadn’t done anything with my life; I worked so many hours to stay afloat at the little gas station on Vincent Street. I lived in my own place then, mainly just to not be a burden to your grandma, but it was hard to keep up with my bills. I met Sam one late night at the gas station. He pulled up in his truck, walking into the place like he owned it. Since I grew up in the church with your grandma, I hadn’t met anyone like him before. He tattoos covering his arms and a mean scar on his chin that he told me was from a knife fight. He walked around in a cloud of cigarette smoke. I was drawn in just because he was unlike anyone I had ever met. Of course, I said yes when he asked me to go drinking with him the next night. Up until that point in my life, I had only had a few drinks, so I don’t know what I was thinking. I just really wanted to learn more about Sam.

            One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Sam and I were going steady. Your grandmother hated him; he represented everything she detested in men, which made dating him all the more exciting. We were together for several months before I got pregnant with you. Sam and I hadn’t talked about a future, so I was scared to tell him. I didn’t want him to leave.

            Of course, that’s what he did once he learned. He told me he wasn’t meant to be a father, and maybe he was right, but it didn’t make it sting any less. I resented him for leaving me alone to raise you, but your grandmother stepped up, despite everything, to support us.

            You hadn’t been alive for a year when he finally reached out to meet you. I said yes, not wanting to keep him away from you. He played with you for a while and asked me to go out for drinks later. I was drawn to him like a magnet more than ever, so of course I said yes.

            Over the next few months, Sam and I were on and off, and he came to see you a handful of times. I could tell he was not invested in being a parent, but it felt so good to have him back in my life, I didn’t mind if I had to raise you on my own, so long as he came to see me. I realize how selfish all of this was, now. I knew then, if I’m being honest. I suppose I was tired of living by other people’s rules, and I wanted to live for myself. I just didn’t understand I wasn’t the only person I was responsible for.

            As spring approached, Sam began to tell me about how a buddy of his had a job set up for him in Colorado. He only told me about it a little bit at a time, and he always brought up how he wanted me to come along. He never asked for you to, though. I picked up on that, but I was so enamored I didn’t care. I am truly ashamed of that now.

            When August came around, he told me it was time to go. You have to understand that I was completely in love and blind to how he could have been leading me astray. He told me how you would have a better, more stable life living with your grandma, anyways. I believed him. Maybe he was right. It still doesn’t make up for what I did, though.

            I followed him to Colorado. I stayed with him for a few years, but when I found out he was running around on me, I was left alone in an apartment I couldn’t afford on the pay I got at the diner I worked at. I considered coming back then, but I thought about how I missed your first birthday, your first steps, you. And I was ashamed. I couldn’t face returning.

            A few months ago, I began a job babysitting, and I really thought about how what I had done had affected you, and I knew it was time to come back.

            I’m not expecting anything from you. I just hope that you will read my story and make a judgement for yourself. Please understand I am so, so sorry. Truly.

01/19/16 –

I’ve been in contact with my mom since I moved back into town, but I have kept my distance. I know that she has forgiven me for what I did, but she holds that it is up to Abby to decide whether she will forgive me. I know that my mom told Abby I was back, and she told me that if Abby decided she wanted to see me, she would let me know. I haven’t heard anything since that, which was a few months ago.

            I want to give Abby the space to decide, but I also am pained by all that I have missed. I don’t want to miss more of her life. But if I forcibly reenter her life now, she’ll surely resent me even more. I don’t want to distance myself from her any more than I already have. I don’t know what to do.

            I suppose, in the end, it’s in Abby’s hands. Maybe that’s for the best.

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