Monday, September 29, 2008

Teenage Mother

Everyone said ' It will be too hard '
Everyone said ' You'll be so broke '
Everyone said ' I could never do it '
Everyone said ' You aren't ready '
I said ' It will be the best thing that has ever happened to me '
and I was right.

I knew many girls that got pregnant in high school or college. I had my baby. I made a choice that was very public and visible, instead of an equally hard choice left for only myself to judge.

From abuse I banged out a disjointed young life, my own, metal edges and elbow grease, made in the frying pan, hopping into the fire; I slouched, moped, cried, feared and followed my way through my late teens,

Until the plus sign. The pregnant at 19 sign, which meant I was a virtual modern day outcast, here in suburbia where many women struggled in their late 30's and 40's to have babies, and here I was, skinny wretch, pregnant with a baby I didn't deserve and could never possibly appreciate enough.

So wrong, SO WRONG.

I have never appreciated anything more in my life, all you ladies. Lady 1 who stopped me in Vons and asked me if I was 15, and what was I doing with a baby! Lady 2 who stopped me in the ice cream parlor and told me I couldn't possibly be old enough for a baby. Ladies 3-1000 who looked at me and said nothing, but said all the same, ' You are a bad, irresponsible slut who doesn't deserve that baby. '

I didn't deserve him, or the next, or the next. I didn't deserve the beauty and joy and blessing and hope, Hope, that this child brought into my heart or my life. And I didn't deserve the heartache that came before him, I didn't deserve the abuse, the lonliness, the pain, the self hatred and the constant ever present sense of fear either.

I went to therapy for four years. I cried, I wailed, I coddled my child and the child in me. I read a hundred parenting books. I joined a club on AP parenting. I prayed, even though I don't have faith. What I never, ever did: Give up, Unforgiveably fail my child, or ever, ever fail to appreciate what I had.

I was a teenage mother. I breastfed my son when no one I knew was breastfeeding, breastfed him until he was two. Co-slept. Never spanked, or screamed- definitely raised my voice. In place I loved, I held, I snuggled, I laughed, I honored, I grew, I changed. I failed. I kept going. I never give up. I never gave up. I worked as a nanny so I could bring him with me, then as a preschool teacher, I went to school at night. I used my extra income (none) to pay for half of private school. In short, I was a parent.

I walked my son proudly to his first day of kindergarten, and ignored the fact that none of the other mommies would talk to me, or include me in their discussions on Jenny Craig and real estate prices. I talk about books, and internet, and movies, and subversive art, and I look Too Young, I suppose, and I'll never measure up in their eyes.

I was a teenage mother, Thank God I didn't get what I deserved, because I got a second chance at life, and was able to pass it on.
she-is-blooming said...

Beautifully written, darling. BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN.

Coming from a town where pregnant teens were actually a common sight (my two great friends had 'em at that age and younger), I am surprised and appalled by the reactions you got for making the choice to have your sweetheart. It's like a movie. :/

Boy, you showed them all, Maggie. I adore your distinctive magpie waltz to your own colorful tune. How blessed that baby turned out to be (both of them!). :)
xox

Talia said...

Great post.

Simply Me Art said...

Beautiful! I remember when I was in HS and there were two girls pregnant one being only 14. Your a Positive Example for young girls who face the same challenges. Im in a differn't situation, a Grandmother at 41! Not my biological grandaughter but boy o boy you should see the looks and comments I get when I walk our Precious Autumn through our neighborhood! Imagine when I tell them my my 22 year old Stepdaughter still in recovery from drugs decided to haver her baby also! Usually stops people in their tracks. There are Exceptions, Thank God.. Jamie

michellewoo said...

Amazing post. Seriously, this is the type of piece I can read again and again and still feel breathless. I want to nominate you for stuff. Hope you don't mind.
I did not know this about you, Maggie. I am not particularly religious myself, but all I can think is, these children - what a blessing.

Candice said...

I hope you don't mind me linking to you from cjane, I also hope this is the first time I am contacting you, it is hard to keep track! I am trying to let people know about threads of love, a nie project I am starting, check it out at www.quilt4nie.blogspot.com or on her benefit blog. Thanks! Love, Candice

Annie King said...

You can be proud of your accomplishments and the life you've given your children. When my husband and I decided to have a child, it was the best decision we'd ever made. My son has enriched my life so much. I would not be the person I am without him. Thank you for posting this, to remind me, not only of what we give to our children, but what our children give to us. Love is circular.

Montgomery Maxton said...

this is one of the most touching, amazing post i've read in the blogosphere in the five or so years i've been loitering in it.

i envy your life as a parent, darling.

Valerie Loveland said...

My mom was 19 when she got pregnant with me.

Happyflower said...

Well you certainly have earned the phrase "Look at me now!!!!!!!!!!"

I think some of us who had really bad abusive childhood's, instead of repeating the abuse, we actually become awesome parents.

I had to relearn everything too, I read every parenting book out there. I do the opposite of what was done with me. My kids know how much they are loved everyday.
Just curious, when you were a child, did you know something wasn't right with your family life even at an early age?

My brother's 1st year anniversary of his death (due to complications of prior child abuse) is coming up next month. This is getting me to be thinking about my childhood, my children's life and our family. I must find a way to help prevent child abuse, some how.

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

That was very touching! My sister in law got pregnant at 16...I was 19 and married to her brother. I know how hard it is after seeing what she went through. Good for you!

ButtonHole said...

I second everything others have said here. You sound like an amazing person!

Carolina Maine said...

Maggie,

This is a wonderful post-I enjoyed every part of it.
I waited until I was 24 to have babies, but that was only because I was afraid to have them earlier--worried I wouldn't make a good parent after my own childhood. I learned how beautiful and wonderful it all is.
I'm sorry you had to put up with cruel people. My children are biracial. With my first baby--one woman asked me if I was her nanny.
People asked me "What is she mixed with?"--like a dog or something. My husband is Asian. People can be so cruel. The best thing is to live well--it makes you happy and proves them wrong at the same time.
And I am relieved--other mommies avoid me too--and I know it is because I'm skinny so I know how you feel. Some people have made comments about how I must not have gained much weight while pregnant--I gained 30 and 35 pounds with each one. I don't know why women have to be so catty. My grandmother was a plus-sized woman and she was always beautiful to me.
I loved your post--wonderful!

Maggie May said...

thank you everyone, it's kind of...amazing to get such support. i mean, where were you people when i had him!!! :)

Maria Burke said...

I just stumbled across your blog as I just dedicated myself to creating my own. The beauty of the internet at best is its possibilities of bringing us together. I had my son at 17 and I know exactly what you speak of so eloquently. I too had a lady in a Vons give me that look. I know, I know oh how I know...

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