I once had a speaking engagement where I spoke on the woes of not fitting in after becoming a teen mom. Through God’s grace, I discovered who I was deep inside and the talk ended with an upbeat spin on the greatness that’s been done in and through that circumstance in my life since. The overall feel of my talk based on my current life situation 10 years later is absolute happiness and trusting God’s plan. It did end with a pretty little bow tying all the lost hope up in grace and love. Afterwards, when I was speaking with a group from the audience, a teenager came up to me.
She quickly connected with me and expressed how much she enjoyed what I had to say. I saw me in her. She was cute, naive, and a little “lost”. Then like a swift kick to the gut, in all her naivety she said, “My sister had her baby as a teenager like you did and I’ve always wanted to be a teen mom too.” I stuttered a bit and clenched my jaw. I took a deep breath and gave a calculated answer about loving God and trusting His timing. I felt like I did her a horrible disservice with my talk on stage, like maybe I showed my walk as a teen mom through rose-colored glasses. I couldn’t spit out fast enough all she didn’t know. I walked away from that conversation with an hour long drive home to rethink all the better answers I’d wished I had said.
I wished I had said, it doesn’t always work out like this.
I wish I would’ve told her how there was a time when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I had a really rough patch. That there were bad arguments and many tears. That our infant daughter shied away from loud noises because it was all too familiar in that season. It was the scariest time of my life. I almost lost my family before we even got to really get started. We are together today 10 years later because we beat the odds. We are the exception, not the norm. Many and most couples don’t make it. Marriage and relationships and becoming parents are hard enough tasks to take on one at a time but doing it all so quickly and when you’re so immature makes it almost unbearable. Sure, I shared the “happily ever after” but she never saw the “Once upon a time…”
I wish I would’ve told her that being a teenage mom gave me so much and I wouldn’t trade it for the world…
…but that I also lost so much in the process. I’d tell her that you give up your freedom, your youth, your dreams, your education, your body, your mind, and your adventures. You gain a beautiful baby, but you also lose yourself. Becoming a teen mom before you’ve even discovered who you are or who you want to be leaves you sliding down a slippery slope. Suddenly you’re told who you need to be and the rest can fall by the wayside.
I wish I would’ve told her I lost God before I found Him again.
When I saw my daughter take her first breath, I felt the actual presence of God for the very first time. Wrapped in with this beautiful experience was the shame and hurt that came from a teenage pregnancy. The judgement, the family quarrels, the stares… it doesn’t leave you automatically when God swoops in. I had to work through a lot to accept that I am lovable and forgiven. Finding a true connection with God is something I fought for.
I wish I would’ve told her that I know love at that age feels earned, it feels magical, and out of our control.
I understand how your very own baby can seem like the ultimate way to feel an unconditional love that never leaves. To create a new piece of you that will be beautiful. To get to have a very full heart and be able to see it suddenly outside of your own chest in the face of your baby. But I would also say that gifting yourself that very type of love first is the answer. To learn to be so nurturing and unconditional with your feelings towards your own self leads to healing. With that you can accept the love of God wholly just as you are. I’d tell her first and foremost that THAT is the love she’s searching for.
I wish I would’ve said that you’ll never be typical in any group for the rest of your life.
There will never be a situation where you just “fit in”. The other parents with kids your children’s ages will be older. The parents your age will have no children or children much younger. You’ll always get a shocked face when you tell people the ages of your children, or your age with a child that old. Comments like “whoa you started early” will eventually become comical because it’s true and they mean no harm. You’ll spend most of your twenties (and probably way beyond that) trying to prove yourself in one way or another. Avoiding the stereotype of teenage moms and their inevitable fate (ahem. Just watch Teen Mom 2). If you don’t end up a stripper, in jail, or on welfare.. people will be “pleased” with your success. 🙄
I wish I would’ve said that all your friends will go away.
Every single person who you thought would always be there by your side will slowly fade from your life. Everyone likes the idea of cuddling a newborn, no one wants to put up with a tired teen mom. Their lives will just look different. And then again in your late twenties when your baby is now becoming a preteen you’ll watch them all become first time parents. It’ll sting a bit because they all “get it” now, but it’s a little too late. You’ll be “done having babies” and everyone else will be just getting started. Suddenly, you’re the odd man out AGAIN.
I would’ve warned her that you’ll always mourn the way things should’ve gone.
The first time mom moments that everyone deserves. The happy announcements filled with congratulations and the joy filled, peaceful pregnancy. You’ll wish you had the calm time it seems everyone else gets to get to know their newborn and ease into motherhood with helping hands and encouraging souls. You will miss out, and it won’t ever leave you content.
I wish I would’ve said all the hard truths I learned myself.
Followed by the sticky unsure details of becoming a teenage mother. I should’ve shared my battle wounds I earned through experience to spare her heart from a bumpy road. I absolutely trust God’s plan for me becoming a teen mom so young. I am simply blessed because of it. But I wish I would’ve steered her back to childhood for just a little bit longer.