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She Chose to Be Both a Good Wife and a Good Mother

As I drew myself in a ball on the dining room chair, suppressing sobs of defeat, my mother wrapped her arms around me. “We’ll make it work out. We’ll find a way,” she whispered in my ear, cheek pressed against the top of my head. Barely audible, I asked her, “Was it this hard with Olivia?” She let out a sigh and stroked my arm. “Your father is stubborn. You and I will make him see which is right for you.

My father expected each of his three daughters to become a focused engineer in a nearby college or university, preferably his own alma mater, Pennsylvania State University. With each successive daughter, it was a new battle. But it was not a battle that we were to face alone. My mother, customarily compliant with my father’s wishes while silencing her own, instead defended her daughters’ hopeful futures. My mother established a motif during parenthood of arguing for her children’s ambitions instead of supporting her husband’s convictions. She believed she better understood what her daughters needed and wanted next in their lives.

As a family-oriented father, Oliver did not want his eldest daughter to relocate eighteen hours from home at Texas A&M University. He relentlessly pressured her to consider closer, academically equivalent or better schools. He forced her to contemplate the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, the family holidays she would be absent from. His persistence would have caused her to change her mind, but an unexpected voice interfered. In her composed and quiet nature, Janette soothed my father’s financial worries. She compelled him to see the

prestige of Texas A&M’s engineering school. Most importantly, she pushed him to recognize my sister’s visible excitement, unmatched compared to other colleges, upon visiting A&M’s campus. For the sake of her children, my mother risked tension and arguments between my father and her.