In 2010, I published my very personal story about how I got into a situation with a boy. He forced himself on me, a virgin. Nine months later I was a very single, very young, very ignorant mother. I share all the details in my book, and I’ll share the details of where that part of the story ends in my next book. It’s unbelievable how many twists and turns my life has had.
Since my book came out, I’ve been asked to speak and share my story to hundreds of people. And it has been amazing to use my pain and triumph to help others make better decisions.
Discouraging Teen Pregnancy Yet Encouraging Teen Mothers and Everyone Who Faces Life’s Challenges.
That was my tagline which evolved into my business, S.O. What!, as I began to speak to more and more audiences on topics far beyond teen pregnancy. Not only was I speaking to audiences, I was also talking to my son. Sex was not a talk we had in my household growing up so I did my best to try to make it a comfortable conversation once I had a child. It never was easy, especially for him, but I shared everything I was learning in the meetings, conferences and workshops I was attending in my new field.
And I certainly shared my challenges of being a teen/young/single mom with him. He lived the challenges. He knew the consequences.
That’s why I just had to laugh to keep from crying when I found out…my 19 year old son was about to be a father. And, I, age 34, would be a grandmother. One of my greatest fears had come true.
I wasn’t with him when I found out so I had a day to digest the news. I was hurt, angry and disappointed. I didn’t want him nor his girlfriend to have the life I had raising a child alone, too young, or in separate households. I wanted my son to go off to college or the military, see the world, become a man, figure out who he was, find his wife, then have his family.
Again, no matter how much I talked, taught, preached, or demonstrated…no matter how much I tried to control the situation, it did not go my way. Boy, am I learning about releasing control, but boy is that hard for a control freak. I can admit that I am.
First and foremost, I was concerned about my son’s future and the future of his girlfriend, a sweet 19 year old girl that I really liked.
But I was also afraid of the judgment of those who follow me and my work. Would I now be dismissed as someone who didn’t know what she was talking about? Someone who couldn’t even prevent this in her own life?
I asked God, “Why?”. Like I said when I got pregnant at 15 by someone I didn’t know, “Why me, God?”
I got part of my answer as soon as I opened my email. I had three emails from mothers who were devastated by the news that their teenager was having a baby. They were desperate for help and advice from me. This wasn’t the first time I had gotten this type of email, but it was the first time I could actually feel like these mothers.
Up until that point, I gave advice based on my perspective of being a teen mother and what I wanted from my parents. Now, I got to feel like my parents when they became grandparents too early.
So I used the advice that I had been giving parents and hugged my son and his girlfriend when I first saw them after finding out these scared kids were about to be parents. That wasn’t the reaction that they expected nor completely how I felt, but it was what was needed. The last thing I wanted to do was scare them more, hurt them more or push them away.
S.O. What! So NOW what?
After blaming myself and thinking about everything I should have done more than focusing on all the things I actually had done, I finally said, “S.O. What!”.
My son and his girlfriend were not ignorant. They both had been taught. They knew what they were doing, and they made decisions. And they realized the consequences. They were pregnant. That wasn’t changing so I had to accept it. And so did they. S.O. What!
So NOW what? Funny how God will put you in situations to make you use your own advice. So I changed my focus of feeling upset, disappointed, scared for their futures and worried about people judging me as a parent or me within the work I do. From that moment forward, everything was positive and focused on how we would move forward so that they could be teen parent success stories too.
All of the work I had done, information I had learned and connections I made still ended up helping them. And I was so grateful for friends and new people I had met doing similar work who supported me rather than criticizing me, my son or his girlfriend.
I talked to the parents-to-be about their future plans, even though none of this was easy, and tried to focus on the positives. One, a baby is always a precious gift from God (preferably arriving to mature, ready parents but a gift nonetheless). Two, they were still together and wanted to be together (who knows what the future holds, but at least for now this is the case). Three, I really like his girlfriend. She’s a hardworker and is determined to be successful -says she’ll be like me :). Finally, my son wants to be the dad he never had. He is a great young man but has a lot of maturing to do (like most teen boys). I already see that his new reality is growing him up, as it should. One more key thing. They both have really great families who already love the baby SO much.
I work with so many teens and teen parents who are totally lost, extremely immature, and have little help and guidance and sometimes don’t even want it. I’m thankful that, in spite of the timing, these teen parents will be fine.
So this news initially devastated me.
I had considered giving up. Going back to a more private life so that people would not see, know or even care what I did or what happened in my life. That way, I wouldn’t get the judgment (or at least not as much). I wouldn’t be held to a higher standard or have different expectations set for me.
But each time I think about retreating (and this time I REALLY wanted to hide), I get a clear sign that I can’t. Instead, I had to work harder and talk even more. This situation has given me more insight and shown that I have much more to do to help others and just how to do it.
I have too much to learn, too much to experience, too much to share and too much to give.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Oh, and I’m looking forward to sharing pictures of our precious baby Kailey who will be here any day now. If you read my book, you know how badly I wanted a little girl simply because I was afraid of raising a boy alone. Well, looks like I’m getting that little girl after all.