Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Relate

There are a lot of teen mom shows on. A lot. Every time I turn around there is some new show talking about a fifteen year old mom or a young mom raising her baby alone or a mom contemplating adoption. It's very hard to watch. It is almost like my own decisions are being thrown in my face. Let me explain.

I was a teen mom. I found out I was pregnant days around my seventeenth birthday. Part of me was happy. You see, I had had a pregnancy scare not too long before I was actually pregnant. When I found out I wasn't actually pregnant the first time at sixteen years old I cried and cried. Not a typical response for a girl in such a rough position. I knew how my life would turn out. I knew a baby at sixteen wouldn't be the wisest choice. All I could think about though were those tiny feet and hands and having someone love me and need me the way I'd always wanted. Those are the most selfish reasons to even think about, contemplate or give birth to a baby by the way.

I didn't tell anybody the first time, except maybe my sister. She was the only one I trusted to tell any information to. Apparently the first scare didn't scare me enough though. I did get pregnant. I remember the day, where I was and even what I was thinking. I was at my boyfriend's house and took the pregnancy test. It came out positive. I was crying. I was crying on the outside, but not entirely sad. There was a bit of excitement to this new discovery. A baby... wow... how incredible. I told myself that I would be such a great mother. I would give my baby the life I never had.

It wasn't so easy though. I had second thoughts. Maybe this wasn't the right plan. I talked to my boyfriend and we considered going to free clinics to discuss abortion. In my heart though, I knew that wasn't what I wanted. We finally decided we were going to keep the baby. He had gotten a new job and I found out I could finish most of my classes from home and still graduate with my class. Being pregnant didn't seem so scary anymore.

I won't go into the details of labor and delivery now, that's another story for another day, but in April of 1998 my son was born. So perfect, so special and so very loved. I was determined to make sure he was well taken care of. My boyfriend contributed everything he could, he bought diapers and formula and anything else I needed for our son. I had four incredible baby showers loaded with everything I could possibly need from family and friends. When I finally finished all of my classes and was told I would graduate with my class, I was thrilled. I was able to go to prom and hold my head high.

After I graduated my mom told my sister and I that we were going to have to move. Move back in with my grandparents. We had lived there when we were young as well. I accepted this decision and my mom, my sister, myself and my son moved in with them. I didn't stay long though. In June of 1998 I went out and found a job. I got myself a new car and in December of 1998 my sister, my boyfriend, my son and I moved into an apartment. I was so proud. Everything I did was for my son. I worked hard and proved the statistic wrong. I never asked anyone for money. I never asked anyone for any favors. I took responsibility for my decisions and moved forward with my life.

This brings me to these teen mom shows. I watch them. There's an obvious curiosity that comes with them being I was a teen mom myself. I'm in a totally different place now. I'm nearly twelve years older now than when I gave birth to my first son. I have a husband and three more children as well. But I say, I watch these shows and I feel like these moms have their priorities wrong. The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a show dedicated to teenage sex. Next time you watch it, keep a tally of how many times the word 'sex' appears. It's uncanny. I'm not talking about fake, contrived versions of teen pregnancy shows. The most realistic show I've seen thus far is "Sixteen and Pregnant" and "Teen Moms" on MTV.

There's a mother who can't get the father of her son to grow up. I have a lot of respect for her because although she's given him more than one chance, she knows she's better than that. She will learn from it and she will find a good father figure for her son. Then there's a mother who believes that she isn't responsible for her choices. Everyone else should just step up to the plate and help her while she figures out her life. She should be able to date, have fun and see friends as much as she wants. She should be able to leave her baby with her parents with out questions asked. Ugh. Then there's the crazy mom who, despite the fact that her boyfriend is visibly trying (as much as a man can), is just a crazy bitch. She doesn't think of anyone other than herself and thinks everyone should bow down to the queen of the bitchy teen mom.

There is one last mom. If any of you have watched the show, you know who I'm referring to. It's an incredibly sad story, but she gave her baby up for adoption. Her mother is dating her boyfriend's dad and her mom is some kind of crazy. She didn't want to bring up her child in that environment and decided it would be best to give her daughter a way better life. Her and her boyfriend picked out a great set of parents looking to adopt and contacted them; changing their lives forever.

I actually feel pain when I see blogs or anything in writing stating that this girl is not really a parent. Just because she doesn't get up with a baby in the middle of the night or change diapers. Seriously? How can anyone say a woman who makes the decision to give her child up isn't really a parent? It's hard, for sure, but isn't part of being a parent making the right decisions for you child? If that right decision (at sixteen years old) is to give that baby to a family that will provide it with the life it deserves, that isn't a decision to criticize. How dare anyone criticize it. The only way I would find that decision abominable is if she had plenty of money and just didn't feel like dealing with a baby.

On the same note (but some what different), I get very aggravated with teens who find excuses to not take care of their children. They're not getting child support or they can't find jobs. Oh my gosh, seriously? I finished high school in my apartment. I had my crazy History teacher (who I used to fall asleep to in his classroom) come to my house to help me pass so I could graduate. If you make the decision to have sex, you make the decision to potentially have children. If you get pregnant and bring a baby into this world it is your responsibility.

As women, who are often left by the men that put us in this position (and to make it clear, I was not one of those women... my son's dad is still very much in his life), you have to be strong. You have to take care of your baby. You are your child's sole supporter. Women are tough. Women can take care of a baby and work at the same time. Women, in most cases, are tougher than men in that respect. We can do it all. We can be super women. Take care of your babies girls, with or with out your men. Do not make excuses. I don't want to see or hear any more of "well, he doesn't want to see his child" or "he's not paying his child support" or "he's such a dead beat". Regardless of any of those things, you hold your future and your child's future at your fingertips. Teach your child something better. Show them that you did all you could to take care of them. Please do not sit and wait for a check from someone, somewhere. Do something.

If there's anything I've tried to teach in this entire blog it's to do something. So, do something for your children. Do something, do something, do something. Make yourself proud and give your child something to be proud of. I get it, I've been there and have mad respect for any mother, young or old, that works hard to take care of their responsibilities.... their children.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ducks In A Row

I'm sitting here at my iMac trying to figure out what to write. Whenever I'm in the shower or driving around in my car it seems words flow easily. However, when I am finally at a place where I can put those words into writing, I blank. I twirl my hair and just stare at the screen. Maybe if I stare long enough, it'll all just write itself.

As long as I can remember people have told me that I am type A. You know the type; anal retentive, organized, uptight and stressed. I can't fully deny those accusations but I can't fully admit to them either. For a lack of a better way to say it, I would actually call myself a fake type A person. "What does that mean?", you may be wondering. Well, I like things to look tidy and organized on the outside. I can assure you however, my ducks are never really in a row. I used to get pretty lucky though, the ducks seemed to just organize themselves. Not so much anymore. I even used to fake my way through jobs. Somehow I always seemed to manage to look like I knew what I was doing, others seemed to think so, but I never really did. I still don't know what I'm doing most of the time be it at work or at home.

That's really sad to me. How can I spend all of my time not knowing what I'm doing? Faking my way through life? What a horrible existence. I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get around all of this. I've come to the conclusion that I need to start my life from the ground up. A new place, new experiences and a new career. A career that is mine. I want to make my own name in the world. I don't want to be famous or anything, but I want to give my children, my husband, my family, friends and myself something to be proud of.

I used to believe it when people would tell me that you do things because you just have to. You just have to live up to some social stigma because if you don't you'll be viewed a certain way. Well, I've come to the realization that if you spend all of your time worrying about how people will view you and how your decisions will make you look, you will never be happy. I don't want to have a job because I "just have to". I want to have a job because it's what I love. I want to love my life. I want my children to see a happy mother. Money, debt, bills, stress, anxiety, hate, depression... these are all where the devil lives.

I am not a religious person. I do believe in God and life after death. I feel that if I were to die tomorrow I'd be a lost soul on the the Earth, trying to finish up all of my unfinished business. I feel like I'd know that my life wasn't everything it should have been and that it was my own fault. I sure hope I don't die tomorrow after saying all of that, but the point is that I want to start taking steps toward reaching my goals. When I do die, I want to know that I lived my life to my fullest and that I gave my children everything I could and they in turn learn to live their lives to the fullest and teach their children the same.

Money truly is the root of all evil. If I am completely debt free or have 100,000 dollars worth of debt I'm still going to die someday and in the end, does it all really matter? I really don't think the Good Lord is going to deny you entrance through the pearly gates if you have debt. I think the most important thing in life is to just do what you love. Always do what you love. Not what your uncle loves, not what Grandma loves, not what your best friend loves.... what YOU love. At the end of the day, you answer to yourself not to anyone else. If you find yourself crying or bitching to yourself at the end of the day, you are not doing what you love.

With all that said, there will be a day when I'll truly be able to say I'm doing what I love and not just working for a paycheck. I will have a photography studio someday. I will own my own business. Be it here in Chicago, in San Francisco or in Timbuktu it will all come to fruition. I will make my children, family and friends happy and proud of me. Most importantly, I will make me proud of me. A person's happiness in life is what makes a person shine. I hope to shine someday.