You against your family.
Unlike some teen moms, I was lucky. My family was a cluster fuck. My parents were recently separated, my mother had just given birth to my brother, who was not my father’s child. My parents were preoccupied with their own lives, drama, whatever, to really care about the status of my uterus. The thing that really softened the blow, had to be the fact that I wasn’t the first one in my family to get knocked up before I was legally able to drive. My cousin had a baby two years earlier. She was only 14, to be fair, she turned 15 a month later. So, being 15 and pregnant didn’t destroy any hopes or dreams on the part of my family. I was lucky, expectations were low.
If you were lucky enough to be born into a family that cares about your future, that wants to see you succeed, then, my friend, you are not going to look into the face of your mother and see that, “It could be worse, she could be a crack head” look.
You may have seen disappointment, anger, and maybe, a little jealousy. I’m no expert on family therapy. All of my family’s problems begin and end with a drink. All I can say is, in the words of the late, great 2Pac – You gotta keep your head up.
Lesson #1: Stay Strong. It may seem like forces of evil are trying to tear you apart. Don’t worry, it’s the pregnancy hormones. If you’re family loves you like I hope they do, then they will come around. Your mom, your grandma, your kooky aunt with the ugly feet, will all start to give you advice. They will eventually start to love your swollen belly as much as you do. Give them time, and by time, I mean a few weeks – a month maybe. Women bond over things like this. Really they do. If you’re dad is still around, he will eventually stop scowling, stop pretending you don’t exist, and accept the fact that his little girl is a woman. It’s the same reaction he would have had five years from now. No Dad likes to see his daughter grow up.
If your family sucks, like mine, you have to shake off all their bullshit and focus on yourself, your kid, and your future. They don’t matter unless you want them to.
You against your friends.
Right now things could be going two ways.
1. Your friends think knowing is the coolest thing ever! There isn’t a faster way to popularity than knowing the girl that got knocked up.
2. Your friends have abandoned you, because your swollen belly and the fact that every one knows you’ve had sex, makes them look bad.
or 3. You have no friends.
I have one thing to say about friends. Fuck them all. You only need the ones that really care about you. It’s up to you to figure out which ones these are. The process may hurt and your true friends might not be the ones you thought or even hoped for. They don’t matter. You’re new BFF is your kid, at least for the first two or three years. I’m not saying you can’t have a social life, really I’m not. You have to learn a balance. Staying home Monday-Friday with your kid, then bailing on Saturday and Sunday to party – IS NOT A BALANCE.
Balance is going out once or twice a month without your child. This doesn’t mean you can’t see your friends, you can, with your kid. If they have an issue with you brining baby along on your trip to the mall, then they aren’t keepers. Real friends love your kid. Real friends call themselves auntie or uncle. Real friends always understand.
Lesson #2: Don’t Ditch Your Kid For Your Friends. Soon enough, your kid will be ditching you for their own friends, it will suck. The bright side is, then you get your life back, sort of. At least you will get to spend more time socializing with people who don’t think Barney is cool. Speaking from experience, the time you will miss the most out of your child’s life, is the first five or six years. When you are their hero, when everything you say is law, when they still come to you to kiss their boo-boo. When they start to lose their teeth, shit gets real.
You against the world.
So, smart, sassy, reasonable teens give up their babies to lonely housewives with fucked up marriages. Cause, that’s way better.
The world really is conspiring against you. Televisions shows exploit you. Hollywood mocks you. I lived by this saying: I will not be a statistic. In reality, we all are (Thank you, Freakonomics). But it’s up to you to determine which side of the chart you will fall into. I didn’t want to be a stereotypical anything so, instead of beauty school, I went to nursing school. I dropped out, but I did earn my certification, which made me totally qualified to give sponge baths and clean shit. I realized midway through I could never be a nurse. But I’m glad I went for it. I looked at it as a what not to do.
Luckily, I ended up pregnant a second time and my career plans were put on hold.
I was twenty by then and I thought “Hey, I’m an adult now!” Yeah, no. It didn’t matter. I still looked young, and I was toting around a 4-year-old. To the world I was still a teen mom. At least I was out of high school. (Got my GED, rather than becoming a 5th year senior) The question on everyone’s mind went from will you finish high school to: “What are you going to do now?”
Why did they have to know? Why was this important? When did the world start to care? If this were the 1950’s. Being married (which I wasn’t) and having children were the life goals of women my age. Now, a mere forty years later, being a mother of two at 20 was a tragedy.
Idiots, keep their babies, and end up on reality TV.
For some reason, the world believes they have a right to ask about our future plans, like they have a stake in the outcome. I blame it on Maury, or Jenny Jones, or Sally Jesse Raphael. Pretty much any and all talk shows of the 80’s and 90’s (and the reality TV of today) that exploited teen pregnancy. That wrote off the teen moms as being welfare seekers with no goals, no dreams, no hope for their future or that of their child. They threw out numbers, statistics, to the crowd.
80% of teen moms are on welfare. 90% didn’t’ graduate high school.
These are just numbers, they are not you!
Again, I was lucky. I was in the right place, with the right person, that needed a receptionist, and I lucked in to the best job in the world. I played office all day long and I got paid for it. No flipping burgers for this girl, but I would have, if had to.
Lesson #3: Don’t Be A Statistic. If you didn’t have a plan for your life before you saw the little pink line turn blue, get one now. It doesn’t have to be something spectacular, but you need to know what direction you want to go in. Even if this changes twenty times over the next two years, it’s ok. You need something to tell people when they ask how you’re going to support your baby. Which drives me fucking crazy! But, it will happen and you don’t want to give THEM any more ammunition against us. This will also give you something to strive for, besides mastering the art of one-handed breastfeeding.
You against you.
You are your biggest asset. You are also your biggest enemy. You are the only thing that will hold you back or push you forward. It was your choice to have this baby. Make every decision from here on out with the same determination and confidence. You made a huge commitment to keep your child. It took bravery and balls, keep the momentum going!
When school sucks and you don’t want to go, don’t look at the day ahead of you, think of the long-term goal. This cold, crappy day, will propel you one step closer to your goal. Graduation, winter break, the weekend. Whatever. Just get up and keep moving.
When you’re broke, out of gas, can’t afford to buy a Frappuccino, don’t be a whiner about the things you don’t have or can’t afford, you aren’t a baby anymore. Think about why you have no money, and what you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again or as often. Do you work? Budget better. Can’t find a job? There is one out there, even if you think it’s beneath you. Do you need help? Ask. If you can’t get help from family or friends, get assistance from the county. There is no shame in getting help. Just don’t take advantage. Take what need, when you need it, and that’s it. General assistance is not a form of income, it’s a hand out, its help when you need it, and should only be used as a last resort, not your go-to option.
Lesson #4: Be Your Biggest Asset. Only you have the power to change your life. Any help you receive, was given because you asked. Don’t be afraid to ask. When you think you can’t do something, try it anyway. Whether it’s running a mile or baking a cake. Test yourself. Little accomplishments, reap huge rewards. Nothing boosts your ego more than exceeding your own limits.
1. Listen to 2Pac: 2Pac – Keep Ya Head Up.
2. Listen to Pink: Pink – My Own Worst Enemy
3. Evaluate the people in your life. Dump the ones that cause drama, bring negativity, or hate your kid.
4. Buy this. If you can afford it, buy this journal. If you can’t afford it, make your own, or least push yourself when you have that “I can’t do it” moment.
5. Teach your kid something new. A song, a dance, a word, how to eat with a spoon (good luck with that). Play patty-cake, or itsty bitsy spider. Enjoy this time, before they learn to talk back.