Given the hubbub around this presidential election--and most recently, about McCain's VP candidate Palin's pregnant teenaged daughter--I wanted to talk about teen pregnancy.
Confession time. I was a teenage single mother (that sounds like a Lifetime Television for Women movie, doesn't it? haha).
I got preggers when I was 19. I was a sophomore in college, and the father of my child and I were not, and did not, get married. When I found out I had a bun in the oven, I moved home for a while, then moved out and was on welfare for a year or two. All the while, I continued going to school to get my bachelor's degree, and I was working a part-time job to help bring in extra income.
Yes, I had a few people tell me it was shameful that I was single and pregnant--especially as a teenager. But for every person who pointed a finger, who shook their head in shame at me and my "unfortunate" situation, I had twenty more who told me how much they loved and respected me for trying to keep moving forward.
I clung to that comfort and support during those long nights when I couldn't get my daughter to sleep, or when I was stressing over final exams, and work, and missing milestone moments in my child's development.
Palin's daughter has a long, tough road ahead of her. Being a single teen mom is hard enough, but being a single teen mom whose mother is striving to be the VP of our country? It must be incredibly trying on her to be in the spotlight right now, to have so many people judging her and her family. I can't even imagine the pressure she must be under.
But you know what? Politics aside, I'm happy to see that Palin is supporting her daughter in this difficult time. I know I couldn't have made it without my mom and dad's support.
Here I am, 13 years later, with my own house--that I pay for with my own $$. I have a Master's degree in English. I couldn't have gotten my day job, or my weekend teaching job, without my schooling. My children are happy and healthy. I'm happy and healthy.
I think I read a statistic that said 1 out of 4 teen girls will get pregnant. It's scary how common this occurence is, but it's a fact of living in the US.
Yes, it happened to me, but even from the start, my family and I knew I wanted to be more than just a "statistic." I was going to make something of myself, and just because the path was harder didn't mean it was impossible. My folks insisted I stay in college, and I'm thankful every day that I did.
I hope Palin's daughter will keep moving forward and let her family's love and support launch her into being a strong, independent woman who can take care of her family--as well as herself.
Teen pregnancy doesn't need to be a tragedy. Out of my struggles, I developed character, inner strength, tenacity, empathy, and the capacity to deeply love. And I wouldn't trade my kids, or my past, for anything. They made me the person I am today.
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Contest time--please leave a comment here on today's post. Tomorrow, I'll pick one lucky commenter to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate! This is my way of apologizing for being MIA last week...boy, was August totally insane!