A Mother, Her Daughter, and A Bag of Condoms

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imgresWhen my mom was a teenager, she decided to devote her life to God and become a nun. After spending a few years in the convent, she decided she would be able to do more positive things for the world if she was actually living in it. So she put in, well actually I just realized I should ask her about this because I don’t think nuns can just put in their two weeks notice, but you get the point…she quit.

After my mom left the convent, she became a kindergarten teacher and she was -and still is- loved by every person she ever came into contact with. One day, when I was 16, my mom borrowed my car. She was driving the head of the school district to a big meeting when she had to slam on the brakes. Low and behold a bag of condoms, that I had hidden, flew out from under the seat. The head of the school district sees them, and my mom, extremely embarrassed, says, “Oh, I am teaching a sex education class for extra money.”

I was sitting in my 11th grade English class and next thing I know I hear the school office over the intercom. “Mr. Wright, please send Jeannette Rizzi to the office. She has been checked out.” I walk into the office and there is my mom standing with her arms crossed. She didn’t say a word to me and drove straight to the doctor. She asked the doctor to put me on birth control pills, drove to the pharmacy, picked them up, threw them at me and said, “Don’t you dare tell your father!”

Ultimately, my father figured it out and to this day, he has never forgiven my mother. If she buys me a secret gift on his credit card without asking him, when he finds out, he’ll yell, “Oh another secret, just like those damn birth control pills!”

Last time I was home visiting, my dad was walking around stressed out. I asked, “What’s the matter Dad?” He said, “Your brother and sister BOTH asked me to get expensive gifts for their kids! I don’t have ANY money!” I took a sip of my wine and said, “Well my kids need…oh wait, I don’t have any! Guess you better go over and kiss mom for putting me on those birth control pills.”

Moral of the story is this: yes my mother spent a lot of time with kids other than her own.  Yes, she devoted most of her life to the Catholic Church, to helping the needy and less fortunate. Yes, she was humiliated when she was in my car with her boss. However, when she found those condoms she put everything aside, including her religious views, to make sure that I, the 16 year-old who thought she knew it all, was protected. To make sure I knew I had a choice about parenting and that it’s no easy task and if it had happened too soon, my life’s course could have been altered forever.

Here I am today, 37, living in LA, child free, chasing my dreams, single/dating beautiful men, and having the time of my life every step of the way.  Thank you Mom, for protecting me when I wasn’t smart enough to do it myself. While you didn’t give me big fancy gifts growing up, you gave me the freedom of choice. For that, I am forever grateful.

Onward and upward…with my birth control pills in my back pocket every step of the way!

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