Friday, April 13, 2007

Dreamy Teens

I had a light topic in mind today for the blog. This morning, I'm in the shower, thinking, Oh. I'll write about list-making! Which is related to organization! Which is related to part of my quest! It will be witty! And pretty! And bright!

But then I'm having my tea and reading OPB (other people's blogs), and I come to Dawn Friedman's This Woman's Work, and she has a post about a teenage mother in Ohio who arranged for her four-month-old baby to be adopted. It was arranged by her high school guidance counselor and an adoption agency; her parents weren't involved in the decision, and, in fact, the mother was told to run away so she could give up custody of the baby. According to the article, she now regrets her decision.

And you know what? My heart just sank, lower, lower, lower, until it was muffled by my guts.

If you've been reading Brain, Child for a few years, you might have read the feature I wrote about teenage mothers, using the stories two teenage mothers in particular, my sisters Erin and Jill. I'm not in the business of judging other mothers, but I just wished that this news article about the teenage mother in Ohio didn't exist. Just as I don't like to hear about older mothers stumbling in huge, irrevokable ways, I don't like to hear it of teenage mothers, either. Actually I hate it worse because it just confirms the shitty stereotype of teenage mothers (incapable, waffling, rash, irresponsible). My ladies have had enough push-back to deal with.

I know how news works, and I know this is a story that interests a lot of people. It has issues a-plenty: adoption, birth mothers' prerogatives, minors' rights, parental consent, runaway teens, baby-snatching.

But I wish every once in a while, there might be a story that shows the ordinary magic of teenage mothers. The teenage mother who bites her tongue and ignores a certain holier-than-thou attitude so her son can form relationships with people he should. The teenage mother who accompanies her daughter's class on a field trip and winds up giving her lunch to a kid whose thirtysomething mother forgot to pack one. The teenage pregnant who sit alone in the cafeteria, who go to school through morning sickness, who drag their bellies to prenatal classes without any mate.

I don't mean to imply that good motherhood always means sacrifice or that we need any more martyrs. It's just that teenage motherhood is always held up as taking the easy way out, an act of the lazy--an act of the selfish brat who thinks she can handle raising a baby. I submit that this is bullshit.

Over Christmas, I was up at my mom's and we were all being goofy. Jill took pictures of me taking carbohydrates out the fridge. She took pictures of Brandon smelling the roses. Krissy took pictures of Jill walking down the street, looking as if she were avoiding the paparazzi.

Jill's daughter looked out the living room window and saw her mother out there. She immediately put on her shoes and grabbed her purse. She threw on her jacket, the one that looks like Jill's. I need to get in on this action is what her face said.

What I'm saying is that the kids of teenage mothers are watching. They'll see if their mothers get, as Aretha puts it, a little respect. They'll watch to figure out if they deserve some respect, too. There is a song about this.

All right. I'm off the soapbox for the weekend. Sock it to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was recently at my son's soccer game when someone so gently pointed out that the kids on the team are only a year younger than me when I had my son. "They're just babies. Can you imagine?" I though, yes, you idiot!