There is an entire epoque of my life full of stories and memories that I would prefer to never share with my children, and in particular with my oldest daughter. The stories aren't about the times that I skipped school; drove to Washington D.C. on a school day to pick up my boyfriend, three weeks after getting my license; or about the numerous times that I drank, smoked, experimented with various substances and made poor choices. I would be willing to share these stories, under the right set of circumstances, although I confess that I hope that I will never have to.
The memories and stories that I never want my children to know about relate to how I first became a mother and a wife. These memories and stories, which are for many families, happy tales openly shared around the dinner table and written about in baby books, are for me painful and shameful.
For instance, I hate when people ask me the question, how many years have you been married? If my husband and I are together, without the kids, we will look at each other when this question is asked, and convey to one another through a glance, whether or not we should tell the truth or lie. The truth is, that we did things backwards, baby first then marriage. I know that it is not as big of a deal anymore, as it once was, to mess up the proper chronological order of these events, but it still feels wrong. The sense is, "oh you had to get married", and in part, that is kind of the truth.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I wasn't elated as most mothers are. Instead, I felt
like someone had punched me and knocked the wind out of me. I couldn't believe that my life was over at nineteen. I told my mom, while I was home on Spring Break, that I was pregnant. Thank God, my Dad was away on business at the time. It was March and I was due in July, so I was nearly six months along, though you couldn't tell by looking at me. I crawled into her bed the day before I was to fly back to school and I told her. Once the words came out of my mouth, I started to cry.
My mom was not happy. She did not call all of her friends and tell them that she was going to be a Grandma. She took me to the mall and we bought some non maternity clothes that would fit me. I wasn't going to be able to spend a lot of money on clothes anymore, my mom told me, if I kept the baby.
From April until July, my life moved in slow motion. My parents told me that if I wanted to keep the baby that I would have to get married, otherwise I would have to put the baby up for adoption. Our engagement was simple. No roses, no music, no surprise in black box. My now husband bought the ring that he could afford, which wasn't much considering he was twenty and a college student, and he gave it to me one afternoon.
We rented an apartment in the college town where we lived, ten hours from home. I wanted to come home to live, but my parents said no. I had to stay and finish my degree. I felt abandoned and isolated. I knew no one in my situation, and because I had only just transferred to that school in the fall as a Sophomore, basically I knew no one. We found out that the baby was a girl. I called my mom to tell her because I was excited, and she responded in a monotone voice, "oh, is it a girl?" In her opinion, I did not deserve to be excited. Everything had to be somber.
The day we went to look for my wedding dress was miserable. We went into one store. My mother motioned towards one dress, I said that I liked it, and we were done. I told her that I wanted to look some more, maybe try a few things on-she said plainly that I would be getting that dress. My girlish dreams of a wedding fit for a princess were quickly extinguished. Because of my mistake, I forfeited the right to have an opinion.
The night before I was to be induced, my soon to be husband did not come home until 2 AM. He went out drinking with his friends as a sort of last hurrah. I was furious and scared to death. We left for the hospital and six am and by 6 pm that night I delivered my beautiful baby girl.
Almost immediately, nothing else mattered. I had beautiful baby who was healthy. I didn't care if my mom was mad at me, if my ring was the size of peanut sliver, if my reception was at McDonalds. I didn't care that nurse was nasty to me because she thought that I was too young. I had a purpose, someone who needed me to the best me that I could be.
Over time, everyone came to love and accept the baby and our family. There were still many hard moments ahead, and the task of being a young mother in a society that is very unaccepting of that lifestyle choice was not and still sometimes is not an easy thing. However, I truly believe that my daughter's life story transformed my life story for the better. Thirteen years later, I know that I made the right choice, and I know that all those who doubted me at the time, would now agree that it was the best decision that I could have made.
I prefer not to share the sad stories that surround the beginnings of our family, however, with my children. They are truths and realities that I think that they are better off not knowing. I would never want my oldest daughter to think of herself as a mistake-if anything, she is the best thing that happened to me. I did miss out on a lot of things because I became a mom at a such a young age, and the circumstances under which I became a wife and mother were not ideal to the least, but that has not diminished the joy that being a mother has brought me, and I would never want my children to think otherwise.
Other participants in flashback Friday:
Her Bad Mother
The Bean Blog