Monday, July 19, 2010

Growing Up Early

When I was 12, my father passed away. From that point on things really changed. My dreams shifted, my hopes went askew, and my aspirations were truly challenged.

I had a wonderful family who loved me, and all the support I could ever need. There was one thing I had – that I really wish I hadn’t… I had way too much freedom.

I think that my mom really tried hard to compensate for my dad being gone, by pretty much letting me do what I wanted. It was easier for her, with me being ADHD, to let me do my thing. I took my meds, so I was fairly well behaved, but I did what I wanted most of the time. From swimming for hours, then running across the house without a towel to go to the the bathroom to plopping down in my wet suit on the couch, I did it. And got away with it.

While I was young, this was just little stuff; not to mention we were in church all the time; so the trouble I got into was pretty innocent… that is until I turned about 15… and hooked up with my older brothers and their friends.

Then… well then I went a little crazy. It was then that I started experimenting with alcohol… and pot… It was then that I had a steady boyfriend that my mother couldn’t stand… and I ran around with a pretty fast crowd. I was pretty sure then that my mom had no idea what I was doing…

There were nights at the drive in with friends… drinking Boone’s Farm “Tickle Pink” and Miller Lite… There were many hours spent in the river swimming, cutting up, and making out with guys too old for me. There were bikers, smoking, and sex.

I remember going to my mom, about a month after my 16th birthday and asked her to take me to the doctor for birth control. She refused… told me I was too young to be thinking about that. I wasn’t ready.

What she said was true… I wasn’t ready – but that wasn’t going to stop me. By the middle of that year I was pregnant.

My daughter was born three weeks before my 18th birthday… I was a single teenage mother. I had to leave my high school, and go to a “special school” for pregnant teenagers. The school was awesome… it was called L.A.M.P. for Lee Adolescent Mother’s Program. It’s still going strong today, and has helped thousands of young ladies through teen pregnancy and graduation.

By the time my daughter was born, I had already gotten my GED and was enrolled in college for the Fall semester, which started on August 25th that year. I was supposed to have my daughter on July 4th… then July 18th… In reality, my daughter was not born until August 18. So… just a week after my baby was born, I was in school again. Now, I have not shared my oldest daughter’s birth story. Let’s just say it’s a long one – and was really difficult. I had 37 stitches. I sat on a donut… it was ugly.

But I went to school every day. My grandparents watched my daughter. My mom was in school in the 3rd year of a 4 year nursing program, so she was gone either all day or all night, depending on her rotation.

By the time my daughter was 4 or 5 months old I went to work in a grocery store full-time. Again, my grandparents, and mom when she was home, cared for my baby.

A week after my 18th birthday, I got married, against everyone’s wishes. He was a first class loser, cocaine addict, and thief. I spent my daughter’s second Christmas dying on our couch because he refused to take me to the doctor. When my mom finally got me there, I had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I had double pneumonia, and was breathing on about 1-2 inches of pleural space in one lung. The doctor said another 4 or 5 hours and I’d have drowned.

We divorced, and my mom and I resumed our life of parenting my daughter together. She was my support and my rock. She helped me through so much. And she never complained. I learned a lot about being a mom.

Friends who taught her the first “real” word she spoke… Gucci. (Thanks Aunt Pat). Friends who would load us up in an old International Scout and take us “mudding” for hours… Friends that I could call on day or night to cry, laugh, or just talk.

I had it pretty easy compared to a lot of the girls I had gone to school with… some of them didn’t even have their parents to count on… I knew at least three girls at my school that were living in the Catholic Home for Wayward Girls… thrown out by their parents because they got pregnant out of wedlock… an embarrassment

I was never treated that way. I know my mom was disappointed. But her love for me never changed or lessened because I made a simple mistake. She gave me options, and let me decide what to do about my baby. And when I made the choice to keep her, she stood up for me to the doctors – and told them to shut up when the suggested I was too young and maybe needed to “get rid of it”.

We spent hours shopping and preparing for her arrival. And days on end walking the beach, the mall, and beyond trying to encourage her to make the appearance.

For years, my mom would be my strongest ally and my best resource. And when things in my life took a trip off the beaten path, she stoically accepted my actions, and helped me choose the best thing. She adopted my daughter when she was 4, and with my step-dad raised her as their own. She knew who her mamma was… but I was totally in no position to care for her. When all was said and done, I did what needed to be done for my daughter. No matter what the cost… and I realized that even though I felt guilty about doing what I did… I had done the right thing.

 In the end – that’s all any parent can do – what’s best for their child.

I’m glad I made the choices I did… especially now when I look at my daughter… Who, at 26 still doesn’t have any children, because she’s not ready. She learned from my mistakes…

Knowing that – I wouldn’t change a thing.

This guest post is courtesy of Elizabeth @  (Name change: Set in my ways)

 Top 10 things she thinks people would be most interested to know:

  1. I have three natural and four step-children.
  2. I have two grandchildren a boy and a girl.
  3. I have five dogs, and three cats. Yes, we DO think we have enough animals…
  4. My youngest son is severely emotionally disabled, and is currently being treated in the hospital.
  5. I trained as a paramedic in college – then decided not to follow through.
  6. My oldest son is currently in college studying to be a network administrator. He still sleeps on my couch.
  7. My step-daughter has been dating the same boy for a year, and it is making me nervous.
  8. My father passed away when I was young, and I was raised by a very strong woman.
  9. I don’t need a man, I have one because I want him here.
  10. I am however, looking forward to the day when I don’t hear “Mom, what’s for dinner?” EVERY single day of my life!

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