I don’t know what was going through her head eighteen years ago when she stood there in her cap and gown with her baby on her hip. It’s sad because I really want to remember. I know she was overwhelmed and confused and not understanding why so many people kept telling her how proud they were of all she had done.
I wish that she didn’t get so anxious over things that she couldn’t control and that she didn’t let her mind wander to places that it should never go. Thankfully she never followed through on any of those random things she was thinking.
I wish she understood more when people told her what a great mother she was and the enormity of the words, “I could never do what you are doing, I don’t have it in me.” when they were spoken to her. Being thousands of miles away from her family, her support system, her “normal” was something that she dealt with the best that she could, even when things looked their bleakest.
I remember the anger that she felt when someone would talk down about teenage mothers. She wrote letter after letter to different talk shows explaining that there are decent teenage mothers in the world. Ones that don’t disrespect their parents. Ones that take care of their babies. Ones that the world wouldn’t call whores. But she realized that the world doesn’t want to hear their stories. There is nothing to sensationalize. Sure there were struggles, but what life doesn’t have them.
I look back at my life and I know that my daughter made me into the person that I am today. She molded and formed me and made me want to be the best person I could be. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders, always encouraging me to go after my dreams. She has made me change the way that I look at myself, because I never want her to have the same fleeting thoughts go through her head that plagued me for years.
There was a time that I felt guilty for deciding to keep my daughter. Would her life have been better? But life isn’t like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book, I can’t go to page 73 and see that she would have been happier. I have to know that I decided to do what was best for myself and my daughter. I raised her to be the best person that she could be. I know the world is a better place with her in it.
I struggle with talking about Teenage Pregnancy because I don’t want people to think that I endorsing it. Or that they go to the other extreme and think that I am anti-adoption, because I am not. Some of most wonderful families I know are created through adoption. But that isn’t part of my story, teenage pregnancy is.
Teenage pregnancy isn’t a death sentence.
Let me state that again and let it sink in. Teenage pregnancy isn’t a death sentence.
I am sure that I didn’t understand the enormity of the choice I was making when everyone around me had their opinion on what my choice should be. I knew that I would never be able to give my baby up and that I would do whatever I could to ensure that she had a better life than I had. Between divorced parents, poverty and molestation; the bar wasn’t set very high.
My then boyfriend decided to join the Navy and asked for my hand in marriage. My parents did all that they could to help me finish school. Teachers, mentors, and friends reached out when I didn’t expect them to. They encouraged and supported me and saw that spark of potential in me that I didn’t even knew I had.
Life hasn’t been easy, but honestly I don’t think I would have it any other way. I look back at my life and see how much I have grown and in ways I couldn’t even imagine. My marriage has survived 18 years and we are happier now than we ever have been. We are living our happily ever after.
I wish I could go back in time and tell her to keep her chin up because in just 18 years you will be standing here on this same track watching that baby you have on your hip walk through those same arches. That the small babe will be driven to achieve her dreams in her life because she is so much like her momma. That babe is fierce, determined and never lets her situation define her. She knows that no matter what happens, she always has a support system around her and that nothing is impossible, nothing.
“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” - Marcus Aurelius