Gee, weren't we just NIFTY?? It seems that, whether our personal families during the EMS were the ideal, neat and polished, nuclear picture of Normal Rockwell domesticity or not, we still tried to see ourselves that way.
Thinking about the issue of our parents and their role in our surrender traumas, I had to point out how the media, network and film censors, and the government presented the image of what we (according to them) SHOULD have been. Lucy and Rickie Arnaz produced Little Ricky while sleeping in separate beds. Mrs. Cleaver kept a spotless house while flawlessly attired in pumps and pearls and a darling, little shirtwaist. Even the movie "bedroom farces" of the early 1960's showed Doris Day and Jim Garner sleeping in the omnipresent twin beds. (And he portrayed an obstetrician in that movie!)
This picture of the ideal family, domesticity and squeaky-clean values was beginning to mix with the sexual and social revolution of the 60's and it seems that all Hell broke loose in real families across our land. I know that I was confused about it all and was not sure why my family was not quite like the model that was presented as the quintessential American family.
George Orwell's "1989" was THE book that spoke of the horror of government control over individual lives. While we read and shivered at the specter of Big Brother and smugly assumed our individual freedoms were in effect, society was already controlling our lives right down to the most personal aspects. Neighbors were watchdogs (what would they think???) of our perceived moral fiber and politicians plotted ultimate solutions.
This was the heyday of the social worker, the nun, the attorney, the OB/GYN and the adopters. These people worked, in collusion with agencies, maternity homes and our own parents to warehouse us, coerce us and break our spirits for daring to go against the social norm. The unmarried mother was the unsightly dust to be swept away and out of sight before the ladies dropped by for tea. I know of one mother who was kept inside until time for her to go to the maternity home, and was led out, in the dead of night, to her brother's car to be taken away while no one was watching.
I know how hurt I was that my mother feared my influence on my two younger sisters. It was as if we had some kind of communicable disease. Watch out for that pregnancy germ! We were supposed to be stronger than the forces of Nature and in control at a time in our lives when our formative libidos were in Perfect Storm Mode. I think the worst part of my experience, back then, was learning that my shame would be shared by my entire family, unfair as that seems, if my terrible secret were to be made known. It became my responsibility, young, scared and hormonal though I was, to protect the entire clan from social disgrace. God/dess help me, I loved my mother, my sisters, my entire family and I didn't want to hurt them.
My motherhood and my two oldest children were sacrificed at the altar of the almighty SOCIETY. It is recognizing this and knowing my mother truly loved me that has enabled me to forgive her for her fear and her part in the surrender of my children. We trusted these invisible forces that decreed what was acceptable and what was not. We were caught up in the post-war naivete' and the strict, asexual mores of the Bible Belt South. It took me years to realize that any group, society or entity that had that many rules governing a simple, natural function of the body, must be obsessed with it. Sex must have been on their minds 24/7.
Some parents were less loving and more appalled than others. They can't all be lumped together as the lead monsters in the horror movie that was the EMS. But I would like to think that the parents of today are less conditional in their love for their children and stronger in supporting them. We all trip and fall at sometime in our lives. In the final analysis, shouldn't family be there to pick us up, tend our wounds and help us deal with the outcome?
My mother truly and sincerely thought she was doing just that. She thought she was protecting my future. She was mistaken. I can't hate her or put all the blame on her shoulders. I cannot withhold forgiveness for her mistake. But I can and will continue to hold the real monsters culpable and call on them to answer for what was done.
And I always thought Wally and the Beaver were Nerds!