Constance Bauman Willows

This is the second part of my interview with my mother, Constance Bauman Willows. 

Part II

Ruth: So you and Dad met, got married, and lived happily ever after?
Connie: Well yes, but no.
Ruth: No?
Connie: We are happily married now, but we didn’t rush into anything. We’d see each other on our days off, and I … well… never mind.
Ruth: What never mind?
Connie: Oh, nothing.
Ruth: Mother…
Connie: I was going through an annulment when I met your father. When Ed and I started to get more serious about each other, I told him about it. He understood, and once it was granted, we never spoke about it again.

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Ruth: What do you mean an annulment? Annulment from what? (gasps) Were you married before?
Connie: Yes, I was. But as it turns out, not legally. Which is why the annulment was granted.
Ruth: Mom, I’ve never heard about this. What are you talking about?
Connie: Your father and I never felt it was necessary to discuss, it’s in the past. But if you want to know about it, I’ll tell you.
Ruth: Yes!
Connie: Just after college I got a job as assistant manager in a small galley near Lenox Massachusetts. The gallery unfortunately closed at the end of the summer, but I had met so many artists and I liked it there so much, I decided to stay.
I became a model for a sculptor. He was in his early forties, had a place in New York City, but spent a lot of his time up there. It wasn’t long that we became lovers.

Ruth: Oh my God, Mother!
Connie: Do you want to hear my story or not?
Ruth: Yes, but I don’t want to hear about you…doing …. that…
Connie: Well it’s part of my story, and sex is a natural part of life. You and your sister were not immaculate conceptions…
Ruth: (interrupting) Fine, just continue.
Connie: I was his model and we had been lovers for about two years when I had a pregnancy scare.
Ruth: You what! You preach about birth control all the time. . .

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Connie: This is why I do. And I should have realized the kind of person he was when I’d ask him to use a condom, and he wouldn’t -(holding up her finger to stop Ruth’s interruption) but that’s not the point.

I thought I was pregnant, and I assumed I’d get an abortion. He had come back from a New York trip, I told him I might be pregnant, and surprisingly he wanted me to have the baby.

That really made me stop and think. Did I want to be a mother? Would my lover step up and be a good father? If he didn’t, did I want to be a single parent? I was very scared, and very unsure, and I didn’t have a lot of time to make life changing decisions.

So after a lot of thought, I realized that I did want to have children. I would prefer to have waited a few more years, but if this was happening I would embrace motherhood. I also realized that I wanted to have a traditional family. Being a single parent just seemed wrong for me.

We discussed marriage, and god he was really dragging his feet. I remember it was early autumn, the tourist were all leaving, he had spent much more time in New York than usual. I was not feeling well emotionally or physically. I was totally stressed, I knew I didn’t make enough money selling pottery to support a child, so I got a job at the restaurant.
He came home one night and told me we were going to get married the next morning. I was in shock, but it was what I had asked for, so we went down to the justice of the peace and got married.
Ruth: No wedding? What did Grandma and Grandpa say?
Connie: (sighs a long sigh) Nope, just the JP and two clerks as witnesses. And luckily, I waited a while before I told my parents.

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