Skip to comments.Maya Angelou: The Decision That Changed My Life: Keeping My Baby
Posted on 05/28/2014 1:20:46 PM PDT by NYer
Writer and poet Maya Angelou died this morning, according to a family statement. She was found by her caregiver and was reportedly been in poor health and had canceled recent scheduled appearances.
Harold Augenbraum, from the National Book Foundation, said that Angelou’s “legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to.”
But while most people are aware of her professional work, they don’t know Angelou’s personal background as well.
Angelou had one son Guy, whose birth was described in her first autobiography, one grandson, and two great-grandchildren. She became pregnant as a teenager and could have sought an illegal abortion but, instead, decided to keep her baby. In an essay that originally appeared in Family Circle magazine, Angelou called that the best decision of her life.
That essay appears below:
“When I was 16, a boy in high school evinced interest in me, so I had sex with him — just once. And after I came out of that room, I thought, Is that all there is to it? My goodness, I’ll never do that again! Then, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the boy and asked him for help, but he said it wasn’t his baby and he didn’t want any part of it.
I was scared to pieces. Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me. So I decided to keep the baby.
My older brother, Bailey, my confidant, told me not to tell my mother or she’d take me out of school. So I hid it the whole time with big blouses! Finally, three weeks before I was due, I left a note on my stepfather’s pillow telling him I was pregnant. He told my mother, and when she came home, she calmly asked me to run her bath.
I’ll never forget what she said: “Now tell me this — do you love the boy?” I said no. “Does he love you?” I said no. “Then there’s no point in ruining three lives. We are going to have our baby!”
What a knockout she was as a mother of teens. Very loving. Very accepting. Not one minute of recrimination. And I never felt any shame.
I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him.
At 17 I got a job as a cook and later as a nightclub waitress. I found a room with cooking privileges, because I was a woman with a baby and needed my own place. My mother, who had a 14-room house, looked at me as if I was crazy! She said, “Remember this: You can always come home.” She kept that door open. And every time life kicked me in the belly, I would go home for a few weeks.
I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou’s shadow, and he said, “I always thought I was in her light.”
Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!”
She believed her own hype which is the death knell of every poet. Most the great poets were troubled people.
Sorry. Don’t like the woman - at all.
Well at least, unlike politicians, prostitutes do actually offer value for what you pay them.
And the fact that she would talk about it afterward --- well, that gives her a big
in my eyes.
And as it has often been remarked, some esteemed writers were really practically insufferable in their private lives. People are complex. They change. They are contradictory. They are downright aggravating. But when they do right, we ought to give due credit.
At least they go away.
Big time Leftie who wrote 2nd-rate verse.
Yes. Me too.
In 10th grade we had to read “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.
It had the story of her pregnancy at 16.
I must say, that was in the 70’s and I had forgotten the part about deciding not to abort.
“Do we really celebrate someone who keeps her fetus? Crazy”
How do you differ from the psycho leftists when you say things like this?
There is a little sanity and compassion left around here...not much but a seed nontheless......
That reminds me...where have the feminists been regarding the abduction of some 300 young girls in Nigeria? The NOW is now a useless shadow of themselves. They have no standing since the Clinton days when they supported him against Lewinsky and others billy-boy used and abused. I'm glad.
I see your point.
I’m not sure why you used the term fetus.
There has been a constant news feed on her passing all day, national and local.
I think it’s reverse racism.
If some white author/poet croaks, it’s no big deal.
I’m really gonna miss that pretentious 3rd-rate poetry./s
“What I meant was that the old “normal” was to keep your child rather than abort: no cause for celebration. So now we’re supposed to celebrate everyone who doesnt kill their child? As I said, crazy.”
A black comedian did a skit about that where a woman was bragging that her boyfriend had never been to prison (as though that was the greatest thing in the world); the comedian mocked that as the absolute least a woman should expect, not something praiseworthy in and of itself...