Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Impossible Motherhood by Irene Vilar
Impossible Motherhood is the memoir of a woman who had fifteen abortions in fifteen years. Although many will find the author totally unsympathic, others will read her story and understand what motivated her. Irene Vilar lost her mother at age eight, when her mother opened the car door while the car was in motion, throwing herself out and killing herself in front of her child. Having learned from her mother that a female should be pleasing to others, Vilar stuffed down her feelings about this event and channeled her emotions into her schoolwork, succeeding to the point that she is accepted to college at age fifteen.
Leaving her family behind in Puerto Rico, Irene attends Syracuse University in the Northern part of the United States, an environment as different from Puerto Rico as is imaginable. At fifteen, she is left by her father at the college, knowing no one, with little money and little life experience. Her family experiences are bleak. Her father is an alchoholic, who cheats on all the women in his life. Two of her brothers are drug addicts. Vilar falls under the influence of a professor at the university and ends up staying with him for a dozen years. He is sixty years old when they meet, and Irene is sixteen. He insists on his freedom, never paying her way but insisting that she pay for her food, and half of any vacations, as well as paying him rent. Since a child would tie him down, he insists on no children. His basic rule was that he took but did not give back to anyone.
Irene's only rebellion, as she saw it, was forgetting to use her birth control. Her pregnancies were acts of rebellion against this overpowering influence, a way of asserting her independance. Yet after a month or two, the thought of losing him overwhelmed her, and she would abort another baby.
This book, although it is hard to read at times, is recommended for all women; feminists,women caught in dependant relationships that are bad for them, mothers who want to avoid their daughters falling into this trap as well as any woman ambivalent about abortion. Vilar's life story shows the dangers of giving up independance and control of your life to anyone else, of needing someone so badly that you rebel against your ideals. The reader is simultaneously repulsed by the fate of all these babies and compelled to read further to hear how Vilar overcame this life and all it entailed.