Grandma By 40: Getting Over The Hump of the Bump...
I must say, it definitely takes a different type of thought process when parenting a teen Mom. It just seems silly to me to try and ground someone who has to worry about buying diapers. Call me crazy and unconventional, but I just can't get my head around that. And as my daughter likes to say, she's pretty much grounded herself via the situation. Smart kid. Therefore, as common of a position that I find myself in, it is a strangely unique one. I had found that I'd gone from thinking I had about two more years to make sure Kieran (I have her permission to use her first name) was in a position of financial and educational success before she left us, to needing to try my very best to cram one final Crash Course/Cliff Note version of parenting into her before she became one herself.
Now, I know that you never stop being a parent, but there does come a time when you do stop offering direction and start making suggestions.
From the moment she confirmed to me that she was keeping the baby, an exceptionally loud Tick, Tick, Tick started going off in my head and it wasn't my Bio-clock.
When the Baby on Board sign gets the same reaction as a Scarlet letter...
Admittedly, I started off knowing that I am fairly lucky to have the daughter that I do in this situation, at the age she is. Regardless of how things are stacked against her, becoming a Mother at 17 is by far better than becoming one at 15. She was almost at the point of flying the coop, college and first apartments.
Also, because of that, giving her the respect of one parent to another as opposed to a Mother teaching her daughter is much easier for me. That in turn makes it easier for her to feel comfortable enough and independent enough in her own parenting to not want to leave. That is very important to me and I realized very early in that her not moving until she was truly ready needed to be one of my main goals. Statistically, my daughter has told me they learned in parenting class, 4 out of 5 teens who become pregnant and keep the child move out by the time the child is 6 months old if not before the child is born. These kids have enough negativity to overcome, to move out before she has enough education to provide for her and Beaner would make me walk the halls every night with worry. And that, again, would be something I would consider to be my failure, not hers. It's my job to raise her so she can be released into society, not unleash her upon society.
Which brings me to one of the biggest hurdles that we encountered together.....the negativity. Funny enough, instead of most of the stress coming from within our home because of the situation, it came from without.
Of course, at first it was all from within. Kieran spent the first 3 months with hellacious morning sickness, much like I did. It was horrible. For more than the first half of that time period, she spent also being incredibly depressed. Even when she wasn't feeling sick she wouldn't leave her room, wouldn't leave her bed. She was crushed that she had gotten herself pregnant, it was NOT in her plans any more than it had been in mine. She had made the same mistake as many in thinking that condoms alone are good enough, had it confirmed by her Sex Ed counsellor at the time (no blame implied), and now she was being hit with the reality of it all. Throw some pregnancy hormones into that mix and you have a recipe for disaster. That, I think, is a big reason why I never freaked out at her for this. It was obvious to me that this wasn't simply the result of teenage reckless abandon. When she was sick and we were suspicious, she really truly believed that there was no way she could be pregnant.
All I could do was comfort her. Make sure she knew that I was there, family and friends were there, we'd pull it together and have emotional support. And, gently talk her through what she was going through, ask her what she was feeling and talk about my own experiences. Ask her to just try my suggestions, and, most of all, get her to start getting up. Start recognizing the depression. Talk about it. Make it open and in the livingroom instead of shutting it all up behind a bedroom door. Go through it, but let me go through it with her. She was at no point alone and never needed to feel as such. That I was disappointed for her but not in her.
The smack in the face to it all for us both was that the majority of my family members who had been through what she was going through themselves and ones who had been put in my position are the ones that instantly turned their backs. I didn't expect to get congratulations from them until the baby was born, but I certainly didn't expect what happened. All that advice, all those resources, all that experience, SO much hypocrisy and hurt. We had waited until she was 3 months pregnant to make sure we didn't start going through the process of dealing with the reactions of telling everyone only to, Heaven forbid, have her lose the baby and then have to go through all those conversations next. She was terrified to tell The Family in the first place. I spent so much time reassuring her as well as truly believing myself that those very people who turned their backs would be the first in line to support her and talk to her being that they had been through it, that I went completely ballistic at their reactions and what was said or not said. I think, in retrospect, the reaction that we got caused me to go into the same level of shock, heartbreak, disappointment and complete anger that the initial news of the pregnancy had. True story. In that order.
I expected people on the street to stereotype her, I expected her to hear her full share of "Tut's" and have an ample serving of "Once overs" when getting on the bus or walking through the mall. Because of growing up with this very situation in my house, I knew to, at the very least, expect that much if not worse on occasion when she came across someone particularily outspoken about their personal offense at her "condition". Just never from the people that it came from the hardest and the meanest. The rift still hasn't been mended after almost a year and I can't say that it ever will be. That is truly up to the parties involved and their decision to be more than superficially involved if involved at all. What I do know is that a phone call hasn't so much as been placed, though there were a few poite emails from some to us both, to my daughter through this whole thing by any of them and Beaner is now going on 6 months old. It's their loss and that's the way I need to see it for now. Call it survival instinct or simple avoidance, but my cup runneth over in the "dealing with" department as it is.
Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge...
And DID she encounter "Tut's"....and "Once Overs" by the way to top it all off. By the multitude. You just can't control some things. All you can do sometimes is steel yourself to them, grit your teeth, try to smile and carry on. Try to avoid being in those places that can cause those things when you know you aren't in the head space to let it roll off. Be aware of where you are at with yourself before you let others have a say in it all. I'm not saying barricade yourself in your bedroom, but have a couch day instead. I never tried to put her around people like that if I could help it and do have to admit I avoided certain people because I knew that they would only be naysayers. I myself have had my share of "What do you know, your kid's knocked up" comments, finger pointing at my parenting abilities and some of my friends stopped talking to me or inviting us around their own kids. I do make a rather large target mind you, also having a Special Needs son and only an intermittently working brain to mouth filter, out on the ol' Rifle Range of the Ignorant and Judgemental.
The best nugget of wisdom that I walked away from that whole aspect of this with is that trying to avoid the areas of life where people are going to sling crap your way is like playing a game of Dodgeball. Exactly like playing a game of Dodgeball. Usually you can see it coming and who's throwing it, but there's always someone in your blind spot eventually that's going to give you a real stinger.
Appreciate the people in your life who don't do that. Even if they simply do nothing different, appreciate them too. Loudly so they know it. Thank them. Pound it. It encourages them to keep being the way they are. They are the ones that will be your support, that will come and earnestly celebrate one of the most incredible moments of your life. You don't want to be looking for someone to share that with and find them not there. Those people in our lives have given Kieran (and now Beaner too) just as much encouragement and love, if not more, than I have and I don't think I personally can EVER express enough just what that means.
As for the stingers, well, sit out a rotation if it smarts that bad, but get back in the game.
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