She was one of the “good girls.” Good grades. Good group of friends. The ballet girl. Cheerleader. Involved in the church youth group. Vice President of the school’s Christian Club. Sweet. Quiet. She wore a purity ring.
We found out days before she was to enter her Junior year in high school. She was already over 2 months along. We were on vacation and she was hiding the fact that she had been sick and throwing up the whole time.
There are only one or two things worse than hearing your teenage daughter struggle to say “I’m pregnant.” How can a parent ever prepare oneself to hear those words? So many feelings. Fear. Anger. Guilt. Uncertainty. Compassion. Hurt. All at once, and then in waves as we navigated the situation.
I want you to know that as a mother, I questioned my parenting. Where did I go wrong? Did I not talk to her enough? Did I not pray for her enough? What could I have done differently? I mourned my daughter’s childhood. I mourned life as I knew it. I went into “momma bear” mode. We had decisions to make about her schooling and about the baby. Would she keep it? We had meetings with the boy and his family. My stress level was high. I had many sleepless, tear-filled nights. How do we tell our family? How will our church respond? I had a fierce urge to protect her from judgmental stares and comments, though I knew very well that it could be par for the course. I struggled with trepidation for what was ahead and guilt for that same trepidation as I fell instantly in love with the little boy in the sonogram photo. I cancelled my Facebook page, I couldn’t imagine posting any updates. I wondered if it was appropriate to have a baby shower. And if so, do we invite her high school friends, or was doing so “glamorizing” teen pregnancy? I was concerned for my girls emotional state as she dealt with shame and isolation. The future was so uncertain.
It is now 15 months since we first learned that our daughter was pregnant. I want you to know that a teenage pregnancy does not mean that life is over. My daughter’s future is not ruined. Different? Yes. Difficult. Absolutely.
My daughter began online school and is now in her senior year, set to graduate next spring. In her mind, abortion was not an option. My husband and I told her that we would help her and support her whether she chose adoption, or to raise the baby – both brave decisions. She chose to raise him. Our family was and is loving and supportive. We are blessed that although they are not together, the father and his family are supportive and my daughter has a wonderful relationship with them. Our church also was and is incredible in their love and support. We did have a baby shower. It had nothing to do with reward vs. punishment. Her child is worth celebrating. Period. Her closest high school friends were invited. I can’t speak for every teen out there, but I discovered that my daughter’s friends are very aware of the difficulties of teenage pregnancy and motherhood. Her pregnancy did not make them want babies of their own.
I cannot possibly judge somebody who is in our situation who has made different choices, nor do I expect everybody to agree with all of our choices. I understand that every situation is a little different; everybody’s level of support is different. I am thankful that rather than rebelling, my daughter has accepted our support and guidance.
I have many people give me a sympathetic look when they learn that my daughter is a teen mom. I want you to know that I am not ashamed of my daughter. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am so, so proud of her. Nothing is more beautiful than to see your daughter love and nurture her child. I am proud of her hard work in caring for her son, keeping up with school, and holding a part-time job. She has learned much about grace, and it has been beyond wonderful to see her reach out to other teen moms.
I want you to know that there is a lot of ‘hard’ in our situation. There is the complexity of mothering my daughter while she mother’s her son. I have had to put many things in my own life on hold. My role at this time is to help my daughter complete her education beyond high school so that she can provide for herself and her son. My husband and I have to be intentional about making time for one another in the midst of all the changes in our home. I have dealt with some depression. There are the financial aspects to consider. My daughter finds it difficult to relate to her peers and often feels isolated. There are times when the stress of motherhood, work and school take it’s toll on her. She has had to learn to ‘adult’, as she deals with doctors and insurance issues. She will have to work twice as hard as her peers to complete her education. She will always have to consider child care and the feeling that work and school take up time that she would rather be spending with her son.
I want you to know that people have been kinder than expected, my daughter and her boy have a bright future, and everything is going to be okay.