I was only 16 when I discovered that I was pregnant and while I’ve never regretted my decision to become a young parent, having a baby at that age definitely gives you a rude awakening about life and the world around you. Here’s what I learned from becoming a teen mom:
People are judgmental AF. People love to talk crap, and when they do, sometimes they don’t care if you’re right there and you can clearly hear them. If they want to tell your other friends how much of a promiscuous woman you are or that you were just overwhelmed with the feeling of being in love, they’ll say it and it won’t matter if you’re at the same table eating lunch.
You can’t always count on your family. When something not-so-good happens to you at a young age, like getting pregnant, your family and relatives have to take some time to process things. Unfortunately in my case, getting pregnant at 16 made me realize that even in families, there are fake people. There were those who’d pretend to want to help but really, they just wanted to see me have the toughest time in my life so that they could gossip about it with my other cousins.
The maternal instinct is real. Obviously, young and pregnant equates to hella confused. This is when maternal instinct will talk to you like an old friend—at least it did for me. It’s like it was there this whole time and it had been keeping tabs on me. After I gave birth, it awoke something in me that I never knew I had. Suddenly I just knew what was happening with my child and I developed a bit of a sixth sense about parenting. Of course, that’s definitely not to say I knew everything or that I do now—far from it—but it’s amazing the intuition about motherhood just kinda kicked in for me.
Postpartum depression is a bitch. I used to think that postpartum depression was only in the movies and wasn’t real. Well, it’s not and it definitely is. Struggling after giving birth is normal, happens to so many women, and is absolutely devastating. I didn’t get any help because I was in denial and too afraid, but what helped me make it through was simply reminding myself multiple times every single day that I could do it. I could and would be a good mom and I wouldn’t let my child down. Thankfully, that worked for me, but most women need more, and there’s no shame in that.
Some guys are plain douchebags. How I wish I learned this lesson sooner—but still, better late than never at all. Some guys just tell you everything you want to hear and make you feel so loved but when you get knocked up, they bail. In my case, this ended up being a good thing. When I started to get the feeling that he was trying to figure out how to leave as peacefully as possible, I decided I’d do it for him. I left and brought my kid with me and until now, seven years later, the jerk has still not made any effort to get in touch with me or to inquire about his kid. This just proves my hypothesis that a) he’s as immature as he was when I met him and b) he’s an absolute jerk.
Motherhood is inexplicably magical. Despite the fact that I didn’t get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep for about five years after I gave birth, being a mom was and is still magical and I can’t even explain why. It’s tiring, stressful, and confusing on so many levels but somehow, it also feels like I’ve accomplished so much in a day. I love seeing this little person I created continue to grow and learn in the world. It’s amazing.
Getting pregnant is one great way to sift through your friends. The fake ones out themselves pretty much right away. The people you thought would stick with you through thick and thin might just be the ones who will be the first to judge you and gossip about your pregnancy. That happened to me, and frankly, I was glad I found out sooner rather than later that when it all hits the fan, they wouldn’t be there for me.
You’ll cry more than you ever thought possible. In motherhood, especially when you’re only 16, there will be moments when all you want to do is cry your heart out and you’re not even sure why—trust me, I know. Unfortunately, you can’t always act on that desire because you don’t want your child to see you upset or to think anything is wrong. This is when you will learn that crying from the inside is possible and that you can cry your heart out without shedding one actual tear.
You’ll be defined by it for the rest of your life. No matter how hard you try, some people don’t just understand the word growth. For them, getting pregnant at 16 means you’re promiscuous and that you’re promiscuous forever. It sucks but it’s the reality. Despite the fact that it’s been nearly a decade since I had my child, it still seems to be the most defining thing about my life to the people in it. Maybe one day that will change but I’m not counting on it.
I’m not straight. I thought my aversion to getting back into the dating scene was just me being afraid of getting pregnant and/or screwed over again but apparently, it’s not. It took a lot of time and self-reflection but I eventually realized that I’m actually queer. Once I understood that about myself, my whole life—and my ability to be a great mom—got so much better.
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