Category Archives: My real life as a teen

Relationship 201: The Power of The Tongue and What I Wish I Learned Sooner

I have learned a few things in 12 years of marriage, and although I consider myself humble in all that I still have to master, I think it so valuable what I have paid for in pain. If my platform allows me to help other young women avoid mistakes and gain knowledge prematurely, then my work is complete. Looking back, the power of my words was something I thought too little on and never gave enough weight to, until I suffered the consequences. And where else are we more likely to be wounded the deepest, then in our love lives and personal relationships? I bring it up because, as I discussed a little more in Missing The Father of My Child As A Teen Mom, I felt incomplete as a young, single parent. I knew I had a family, but I was missing the man. Now we all hear how you should be confident and single, and I totally agree it is a place to work towards, but this “hole” in my life consumed a lot of my thoughts. It became a need and I became focused on meeting that need in my life. The problem therein was that a man became my solution, and in that, I was totally deceived.

I like to make sport of love at times because I have come to the belief that it is a matter totally out of our control, who we fall madly in love with. I believe in destiny. I believe we are slaves to that biological demand and we will only mate with those humans who are completely compatible for reproduction. Primitive? Maybe, but the kind of love I feel, it’s for one man alone. It’s powerful. It defies reason and no force can stop it. I can’t explain it, but I can tell you that you, too, may find yourself in the same predicament. My goal here is to point out the maintenance of such love, to make you think about the power of your words towards those whom you say you need.

Love is amazing and having a family is amazing….. sometimes. Other times it is really boring or hard or self-sacrificing. Like any good thing, the harder you work at it the better the outcome. I was convinced that getting married would solve many of my problems. Life has been more enriched sharing my journey with my spouse, but my weaknesses, my character flaws – they didn’t magically disappear because I got married.

I needed to understand that hard work on my own integrity was the necessary key to my happiness.

Because the primitive need is always there, but how do we respectfully and intelligently nurture our love? Ladies, please hear me, the power is in your tongue. To keep quite in the storms, when stronger voices rage. To speak words of healing and power over the one you chose to spend your life with. I promise you, if you place a high standard on the words you allow to come out in your relationships, you will live to see the fruit of your labors! If only I had learned this sooner.

#PleasingAbba

Synergy As A Source

The power that comes together when like-minded people join forces, Synergy. In this life of struggle and dog-eat-dog, let’s face it, we need all the support we can get. A huge part of my ability to overcome negative statistics as a teen mom was the devotion of responsible mentors who wanted to see me succeed. I was down. I was overwhelmed and I needed a team of people to set my feet on solid ground. Trust worthy caregivers to care for my son who was only weeks old when I returned to high school. Compassionate counselors who knew my pain and the kind of direction I needed to be imprinted with. And of course, the administrators who ran the programs and saw to it my educational needs were accessible. My life changed drastically when I became a first time mother at sixteen, but I have a success story that came out of despair and I can promise you it was not something I could have done alone. It required synergy as my source.

As life went on I found seasons change. I settled down to have a family. The simple fact of having a baby (or 6) at home can make it seem like there is no getting out. I became very isolated during the thick of my childbearing years. Suddenly, I was submerged. The long hours and the sleepless nights that went on for years. The challenges of money that come with acquiring more responsibility, it all was too much to handle alone. I looked around one day and realized losing my support system, or failing to ensure a new one, was a mistake. I needed help. I needed friendship and quality people in my life for it to be balanced. Though I benefited from the support of other good people during my single years, I had let it go thinking that was the normal thing we all did as spouses and parents. I excepted that everyone became more involved with tending to their own families and I followed suit.

When God called me to begin this ministry, my instinct was to surrounded myself with people who were already living ministry leadership. I changed my news feeds so I only saw posts from these mentors. I began to seek out my guidance and direction through anointed relationships. God was using others to bring me into this new level of my life.  I had reached a place were I understood it was no good for me to operate alone. The work God was doing required MANY. I faced the issues of hard relationships. I faced the issues of negative relationships. Both of these complications had kept me closed off and isolated in the past. I needed tools and I needed synergy again to beat the odds, to be a success at what God was calling me to do. One of these important relationships came in the form of a Twitter follow. Someone I had connected with recommended daily emails via #DailyProphetic and Neilvermillion.com. This became a powerful connection in my social media experience. I felt whenever Neil put a word out, it was an opportunity to meet with the Lord Himself and be refreshed.

 

Synergy as my source has become a motto in my life. I need the right people to break out into influence if I intend to reach the youth of this world with the love of the Father. It is a work I cannot do alone. It is bigger than me. It requires many experts. It will require a strength that must be tapped into through the anointed elect. Whatever you are trying to accomplish for God, I know you will find yourself in need of empowerment. Stay connected to the anointing of the Holy Spirit which is present in this age. Together, we can do great things! #PleasingAbba #DailyProphetic #TeenMomSuccess

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The Teen Sex Life

It almost sounds unreal. Far from unreal, is it a topic that is untouchable? I wonder as I try to reach out to young people. I ask myself what I needed to hear as a teen that would have helped me make right choices and encouraged me to reach beyond the norm. Because that was the reality that I faced as a teen. Most of my peers were in sexual relationships. For me it was a lot of pressure. Sexual relationships for myself and my peers filled a place in our lives to bond with other people and share love and affection. Love and affection are normal parts of human character, so we can say that teens rightfully need to explore relationships. I can speak to this topic as an adult who has lived through it.

Use caution with intimacy

Intimacy binds us together with another person and causes us to become attached to them. When you attach yourself so closely and deeply with another person you stand the risk of being hurt.  I was usually looking for a deeper connection while MOST of the guys that where approaching me to date me or hang out with me only wanted to use me for sex. I’m still blindsided by this sometimes as a woman. Its like my mind isn’t attached to the same body. I forget how men think because I am not one.

There is this intense sexual hunt going on in the world. It’s called nature and reproduction and our youth can feel the impact. We can offer them caution and discipline, because discipline in sexuality will never be unneeded. We can help our teens to work through temptation, but we have to open the conversation. And to open up ourselves to talking about what their sex lives really look like, we will have to acknowledge they exist. #pleasingabba

 

Working Moms vs Stay-at-home Moms

This is the battle, who is right and who is better? There is a range of emotion that follows this topic and it is no wonder why. Is there a more tender place in the heart of a woman then that space reserved for her own baby? I’ve known some pretty selfish people in my life and even they were moved to tears at the first time of having to leave their baby behind to return to work. I have had the privilege of living both situations, and because this is such an unrelenting topic, I would really like to address it for young mothers. Most young mothers are single moms because we know that 76% of teen pregnancy is unplanned. Since these teen moms are not married, a lot of the time they carry the financial burden of their child alone. It was like this for me. The father of my son was never involved, even during the pregnancy. I did have my parent’s support, but I felt obligated right away to earn some kind of money for myself and my son. I got a retail job at sixteen when my 1st was only a few months old. I went back to high school full-time 5 weeks after giving birth and on top of that I was working a part-time job at the mall. I woke up at 6 am 5 days a week and my son went with me to school. The majority of people have enough sense to agree that at this stage of my mothering experience, it was no good for me to be a stay- at-home mom. I never read the negative stats on teen moms, but I knew it would only make things worse on my son for his mother to be a drop out. NO WAY was I taking that crap from a society that had already betrayed me. I stayed in school and I kept working. My son was in daycare, a lot. I had my parents to help out with childcare in the evenings and weekends, but they both worked full-time and had lives of their own. It didn’t last long, they became fed up and insisted my son and I move out. There I was, 18, single, with a 2-year-old. Not too many would be confused why I was a working mother for those early years. Like many, I had no choice.

I did go on with my education and graduate college in five years. I worked as a waitress for consistent cash in my pocket and lived off of loans to get by with my books and bills. I got a good job right after graduating and within two years I was married and ready to focus on starting my family. Finally, I would get to be a stay-at-home mom! That is what I did and I dived into it with all my being! Those first years of getting pregnant with my next few children were precious, but there was a new element of hard, no money. No money of my own that is. I was to be submissive and embrace humility and service, all with a willing heart. I began to take on this attitude of feeling bad that I hadn’t been home with my oldest as a teen mom. Maybe, I thought, I was wrong to stay in school and focus on my education at the cost of those invaluable years with him? This was an emotional time filled with many unanswered questions about the role of mothers in modern society. I remember reading Titus chapter 2 for the first time and being enraged. THIS had never been taught to me as a young female. Today, when I question so-called experts in the church on woman’s issues, not one will answer me, all run for cover (cowards). Read it for yourself:

Titus 2:3-5 KJV

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Throughout bible, blaspheming the Word of God is only mentioned this one time. That if Christian women are not discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, the word of God can be blasphemed.

What!?

Why don’t they talk about this in church? I mean, seems like some strong words being used here and NO ONE, not one person in the church or in my family or community can explain this to me? Why? What does this mean?

This verse became the spark of an unquenchable fire. The emotions of money and babies and my own mother leaving me at daycare to pursue her financial stability were all-consuming. What would I do with my life? Like most mothers that are madly in love with their babies and husband, I really wanted to get this right. I read the verses over and over. I looked into the past. In my grandmother’s day most women lived the Titus 2 life. I studied feminism and I thought I had found my answer. Angry bitter women must have been to blame. It was them that stole the housewives of America and pushed women to abandon their God ordained position! Now I was angry. Angry for being lied to by my teachers who had brainwashed my mind from my earliest of memories,

What are you going to be when you grow up?” and “A woman can do ANY job a man can do.”

Their voices stern with authority standing over my 5-year-old mind. Career day was serious and expectations were laid out.  “Keeper at home” was never an option for myself or the millions of other girls in my time. Had I ever said stay-at-home mom for what I wanted to be, that would have been unacceptable and I knew it.

So there I was. Privileged with the ability to not serve another master apart for my lord and husband. Safe, blooming in motherhood, and confused as can be. After all I did complete my education. I had been conditioned my whole life to compete with my male peers as an equal, but now in my christian married life the rules were much different. My life completely changed. I had baby after baby. I shopped the clearance racks and clipped coupons. I gave up so much of the life I had been used to and I did it willingly. I was reduced to it and it was not easy to transition out of who I was made to be, but I did it because I believed in it. I took the scorning looks and words from family and friends. I took the sleepless nights and the never getting a break. The more babies I had the worse the criticism and isolation became. Now the mom support I use to receive turned into bitter jealousy from peers. My family, friends, community and society, all looked down on me and the respect I once held as an educated working woman just disappeared. I was now not myself. I was defined by my choice, Stay-At-Home Mom. Not worthy of a break or a friend or help. People I needed just mocked my choice to have children and they wanted me to pay. Eventually it was too much and I wanted out.  Now you can think I am exaggerating, but walk a mile in my shoes. Go through 8 pregnancies & care for babies with no income (earned for your labor) for over ten years and then we will talk.

may i

I can only relate what my experience has been and while I will never regret staying home to invest in my husband and children, I can also tell you trying to raise a family in poverty is a nightmare. With the recession our country has recently faced, making enough money is a challenge for most Americans. The best part of my struggle is my journey has eliminated my anger and hate towards other moms. I no longer blame feminism or my government education and brainwashing that molded my “I can do any job a man can do” core programming.

I have made peace with who I am.

I currently work from home as a writer. I  juggle the childcare and homeschooling with my husband. We are making plans to hire help to come into our home so I can work more hours and make more money. My husband and I have battled it out and we are finding what works for us, to care for our large family. I do not want to think about what life would be had I dropped out all those years ago. I am so glad I followed my gut! Otherwise, I’d really be in trouble.

Titus chapter 2 is still my pillar. It is still that grounding I need to remind me the importance God places on the woman’s role in the home. Ultimately, my God and my man come first. My first place of concern has to be my husband and children. If that is not right, the money won’t create the full life I deserve. I have learned to trust my heart. I have learned that people are cruel and are not going to carry your responsibilities for you, even when you really need that support, so why listen to them? Everyone told me not to have more babies, EVERYONE. But guess what, my children love me more than anyone ever has. My children bless me non-stop! They have educated and enlightened my life and soul!

What’s right for you won’t be right for another mom, so what’s this war between us moms really about? Competition? Our own past hurts? Jealousy? Time to drop it ladies. Let’s just love our God and men and children like crazy. Let us just be so driven to love our own families. And if your eye happens to catch a glimpse of another mom’s life, and you feel that awkward cringe of judgment for be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, smile inside and think of me! I give you permission to be you! #TEENMOMSUCCESS

 

Body Image

This may have been the most important topic I faced as a Teen Mom, or should I say, I was really into my looks. I think most of my friends were similar, but I had begun modeling school when I was twelve and I had been trained to be very aware of my look, walk, clothing and make up. I studied fashion. I learned how to prepare my mannerisms and voice. I did some work as a young teen, for L’Oreal as a hair model and representing Liz Claiborne’s newest line for a fashion show project. My main goal after graduating was working full-time as a career model once I turned 15. Like most girls in the modeling business, 15 was the age you moved to New York and started working. My path changed when my family and I moved to Jacksonville, Alabama half way through my eighth grade year. By the time I was turning 15 and completing my freshman year, I was emotionally invested in my high school. My dance team and friends were everything to me at that point. I mean, I lived and breathed high school and its social scene. Half way through my sophomore year, I found out I was pregnant. My life was thrown into chaos. Plans changed.

red girl.jpeg

I barely gained any weight at first, about 10 pounds the first 5 mouths. This changed once I moved back to Michigan and began attending an alternative high school with a teen mom program. I no longer had to hide my pregnancy, I began to use food as a comfort. Pregnancy is exhausting and I was experiencing it for the first time. I was still going to school 5 days a week, I never dropped out. I would usually crash as soon as I walked in the door. My mom and I stayed in a furnished condo while we house hunted, leaving the rest of our family behind in Alabama to wrap up loose ends and sell our home.

I could make excuses about the 50 pounds I ended up gaining as a teen mom, but apart from it being a super stressful season in my life, I was really uneducated about nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy. I was not monitoring my weight, even though I was regularly attending check ups. No one offered me diet help or said much about it. I gained a lot of weight quickly in the end, when hunger was the most intense. I was therefore left with a lot of weight to lose and, of course, I wanted to lose it very rapidly. I had my son in the middle of July and was due back at high school only weeks after giving birth. I was desperate.  I began a very restricted diet, even though I was breastfeeding. One day, walking down the stairs in my parents house, I began to black out. Luckily, I caught myself and sat down before completing my decent. That experience freaked me out and I learned I could not continue with too few calories. It was unhealthy. I could not starve myself and care for my baby. I did lose the weight, I am glad to say, but it took about a year – to a year in a half. It happened when I decided to go on vacation for spring break with some girlfriends to Fort Lauderdale. I joined a gym, gave up fast food and eating take out, and I finally lost that last 15 pounds that had just sort of lingered.

I’m now in a similar position as I battle off yet another round of excess body weight right after having a baby. I am older and caring for many small ones, so losing weight has become a science for me. I have to be smart and I have to find things that work for my ever-changing life and schedule. I did some research for this post recently, which I really enjoyed. I have made managing my weight a lifelong ambition, after all, once a model always a model. I am always wanting to look my best. Here are some things that have worked well for me:

Hydrate

I recently studied up on detoxing the body. The only problem was you can not detox during pregnancy or breastfeeding. But you can detox naturally. Avoid foods that don’t mesh with your liver like high fructose corn syrup and MSG. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water everyday if you are trying to lose weight. I like to use wide mouth mason jars to help me achieve this. I fill one with ice, a squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoonful of raw honey and a dash of sea salt for electrolytes. It is a treat! The honey comes through in bursts and I enjoy it more than pop, which I have vowed to cut out of my diet. Of all the things that are easy to do to care for your body, drinking enough water has the added benefits of making me feel great and giving my skin a nice glow.

 I find Plus models convey a much closer vision of the real women I see everyday. Be careful, especially when looking at  photo shoots which are airbrushed and edited – selling an image that doesn’t really exist.

Yoga

I have been a walker all my life. I have been a runner, I have done 2 hour cardio sessions at the gym multiple times a week. Zumba, Dance, weight training class for a year, as well as, Pilates and Yoga. In all my workout searching, nothing has given me the results I crave like yoga. I was surprised, too. I only tried yoga during my second pregnancy on a whim, to pamper myself. I continued in it for the relaxation benefits it immediately brought into my life. Never did I expect it to transform my body in the ways I had been wanting, all those years before! A close second to yoga is Pilates. Pilates has given me quick results! I love Jennifer Kries method Pilates, its my go-to routine whenever I need to trim down my waist quick. For yoga, I was fortunate that my first instructor was from India. She was taught by her father from a young age and she was very knowledgeable. You can pick up some good techniques in a class setting and then continue to practice in your home. Working out at home is a must for me. I live in a region where weather is too harsh for several months out of the year and I need a plan that cannot be sabotaged by money needs or babysitter assistance.

Liver care

I have recently become aware of the powerful role our liver plays in weight loss. Certain foods and toxins regularly consumed can foil attempts to loose weight via exercise. This goes for alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs (never stop taking a medication without consulting your physician). We can care for our liver by numerous healthy foods like garlic, ginger, beets and coffee. We can drink lots of water. We can simply learn about liver care and make it a priority. If you have struggled to lose weight, this may be your problem. Oil pulling, salt baths and dry brushing are all techniques you can google to aid in liver health, All are safe for breastfeeding mothers, too! I have been doing all three for a month in preparation for this article, as well as drinking half my body weight in water. I can say that the most dramatic difference is the appearance of my skin. It glows, especially after the oil pulling. I have also lost five pounds, and do to a hectic writing schedule, I have barley had time to exercise this past month. I really credit the weight loss to the liver care regiment I have begun.

Cardio

Cardio burns calories and fat and feels amazing AFTERWARDS (NOT DURING). Cardio oxygenates every internal organ! Cardio activates the lymph by invoking gravity. Our bodies were made to move.The latest science in health care is linking muscle atrophy (not moving a muscle for extended periods of time) to a majority of diseases that plague humans as they age. Get moving and keep moving. Throughout your life, cardio is necessary.

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Keep a Food and Measurement Journal

I have learned this over the years. Just like anything, being organized and informed is key.

We hired a midwife for my second pregnancy, and it was my first experience with a midwife. They offer a much more personalized care plan than I was used to receiving and I loved it. One of the first things my midwife required of me was a food journal. She told me I could take a vitamin, but it would be better to get nutrients from my food. I wrote down what I ate everyday for a month and, WOW, did I eat better when I had to put it in writing! Using a scale and taking measurements are the same, in that you are tracking your progress and being aware. The times I gained too much weight in my life were times when I avoided the scale or didn’t own one altogether. Measurements are important for properly ordering clothing online, which I do a lot, and it has been helpful to keep track of my changes over the years. I always record my bust, waist and hip, thigh and upper arm. (I learned this in my weight training class). My measurements have generally been the same through all my postpartum months and I can see how long it took me to lose inches in the past. Knowing I have been successful before encourages me I can do it again!

Limit sugar

I have had great success by simply measuring my daily sugar intake. 40 grams per day is the standard consumption for sugar. This breaks down into 4 teaspoons equal 10 grams of sugar & 16 teaspoons equal 40 grams. 16 teaspoons is a lot of sugar, by the way. When I measured out my sugar for coffee and kept ingestion strictly under 40 grams per day, I lost weight and kept it off.

All of this equates to my main message of this post: Love Yourself! Now. Right Now. Just as you are. Because as women that have babies, our bodies are going to change. You can love yourself and take loving care of your body. You will feel better for it and you will look better, too. People will notice! Embrace your body. Love your body. You are a one of a kind stunner. Have the right body image by being the best version of you and not looking to society or media to dictate true beauty. True beauty is right in front of you, staring back from that mirror! #fight #love #TeenMom

 

Disclaimer: The previous tips are my opinions.They should not replace medical advice.

Breastfeeding Normalized

Rowan 23

To be a teen mom In 2015 means it is more convenient than ever to breast feed.  America has put breastfeeding through the ringer and history tells of many agendas or cultural norms that dictated whether or not a woman nursed her newborn baby. I myself was fortunate to give birth as a teen mom during a time when nursing was encouraged in the delivery room. I was actually really uncomfortable breastfeeding as a teen. I was feeling very humiliated about being pregnant. I really didn’t understand much about what I was going through. My body was still foreign to me, in so many ways. How could I share my breasts with my new baby? It scared me and made me uncomfortable in a way I just wanted to run from. I was selfish and brand new to motherhood. Yet when my son was born and the attending nurse prompted me to try breastfeeding for the first time, I didn’t resist. I had been told how important a mother’s breast milk is to a newborn. I knew that even if I only nursed for days, it was greatly beneficial for my son’s immunity. So I yielded. I nursed my son the best I could for about a month. Unfortunately, that first lesson I received in the delivery room was the only one. Once home I never developed the technique of a good latch. Healthy newborn babies have what I call the death grip latch. It is intense and you have to understand how to properly latch your baby to your breast. If not, the pain can be unbearable. That was my experience. I nursed, but when I experienced pain I gave up. I was planning on continuing my education after I had my son. I was due to return to high school 5 weeks after giving birth. This in itself was stressful. As a teen mom I had the option of nursing my baby at school. I would be called out of a class to nurse as my baby required. My high school had a teen mom program for girls like myself. They made it possible for mom and baby to be on location together for different parts of the day and cared for by childcare professionals the rest of the time. Girls could get a high school diploma even though they were going through pregnancy and motherhood. Me, personally, I could not handle the embarrassment. I was so awkward as a teen mom breastfeeding,

but I really want young moms NOT to feel the way I felt at 16!

I say this because breastfeeding is such a profoundly beautiful experience. To be snuggled together as mom and baby; warm, soft, perfect. Your body makes the perfect food for your newborn! It’s as supernatural as the baby forming within you. You should continue to be healthy and exercise and take vitamins and watch your weight – just as you did when pregnant. This means sacrifice, but it is sacrifice you will be most glad you made. Especially as you watch your child grow into a healthy, secure being – you will treasure the time you spent breastfeeding.

Rowan 9

I have since had the privilege of nursing all 7 of my babies, the longest time frame being 18 months. As with my first, I have transitioned to formula with some at different points when I could no longer breastfeed. I also simply supplemented a meal for the luxury of having a break due to exhaustion. (Sometimes my teething babies would prefer to stay latched on for hours to comfort there growing mouths) As with every aspect of your mothering, do not allow people to shame you for however you choose to feed your child. I strongly recommend joining a Le Leche League support group in your neighborhood. You can attend during your pregnancy to build friendships and a support system before you give birth. This was one of my favorite experiences as a mother! I will always treasure the time I spent with other breastfeeding mammas, It was that awesome! Breastfeeding rocks! Go for it! #teenmom #pleasingabba

Relationships 101

I had the fairy tale dream. I admit it. I grew up believing in a fairy tale existence as the destination status for my future relationship. I believed in the soul mate, the one true love, and I was looking for that person to show up in my life and complete me. Of course, now that I’ve been married for 11 years, I see so many things differently than I did as a teen mom. I want to share with you something I have become conscious of and I hope you can examine your own ideas and beliefs about relationships. I won’t pretend to be a know-it-all or a perfect example, but I will be real. I believe you can learn from what I’ve been through.

Relationships have always been something of a roller-coaster ride for me, rapidly launching through a range of deep emotion. I am happy to say my love life has slowly become more of a peaceful and steady journey – but it is mostly a battle. A battle to win and a work that requires my strongest resolve. I have to be wiling to give up selfishness. I have to put my relationship before my own desires, and sometimes this is really hard. Sometimes it makes me angry. I have to deal with that anger or let it come out in an explosion of hate heaped upon the people I am supposed to love the most. It is toiling. It is frustrating at times. Of course there is the bliss. The oh so consuming fire of passion and true love. Believing that your relationship is meant to be and this person was created just for you, and you for them. Those times are awesome and real. They are what keeps people staying together long after the storms of life happen. But the euphoria is always mixed with the struggle, it only comes after the work. As a teen I understood so little of the work it takes to keep a family/marriage together. I wanted to be loved so bad. I wanted to have an intimate relationship and experience. It was this out of control hunger.

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I know for me this was elevated because of my broken family and lack of close relationships at home. My parents were so busy with their careers and I felt ready to move out as soon as I turned eightteen. It was a lot. I was going to college and I was focused on graduating before marriage. I was just doing the best I could, but I was always looking over my shoulder or around the room. I was waiting for that one guy to show up and whisk me away. That one man who would love me and my son. I had a deep and desperate need in my life. I wasn’t just looking for myself, I had a child to consider.

Relationships consumed my late teens and early twenties. Dating was almost like a career. Relationships dominated gossip among my circles. Who’s with who?! Who’s going? Who’s that? It really can be a great time in life if you keep things in perspective. The feelings of wanting to find a partner and co-parent are normal. Every young person goes through this time. Yet as a teen mom it is different. You are vulnerable if you have a deep need to be loved. You are vulnerable because you have your heart wrapped up in your child. You are not alone in these things, you are very much the same as all mothers. You only lack the experience. You only lack the time and hard work and self-denial required to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship. Just remember that when you admire a marriage or partnership from afar, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Real love requires a real obligation. Real love hurts because it makes us grow out of our own ideas and comfort zones. You will not always agree with your mate. You will disagree and get offended and you will have anger. You will then have to work it all out within your relationship and at times this will be the most challenging part of your waking life. You will have to juggle all these emotions with parenting and money management and your personal work or career, because we all have a purpose and destiny. (Did I mention you will be the main cheerleader for your partner’s life work, too?) It is a role of a lifetime – wife. It will bless you and bring much joy, but it will be more work than fun.

I’m not afraid to tell you the truth. I wish many of the older women in my life could have been a little more real with me instead of putting up a front. I do the same so I get it. We all want to look good in front of others, we want to feel like we have it all together. Each person is a one of a kind original and each marriage/family is the same – no two are alike. Your life may be so different from mine, but remember what I have said about the hard work. Expect relationships to be harder than you anticipated and invest wisely. Know that you will have to juggle many roles and who you chose to love is a big deal. It may be the most controversial decision of your life!

You may ask, do I still believe in fairy tale romance and storybook endings? Yes, I do. I actually have a castle picked out in France and I regularly daydream about living there with my husband. I am a bold dreamer, I know. I haven’t given up on happily ever after. I think the romance and the dreaming are the greatest payoff for the endurance and pain we go through. Relationships! What else can I say? #PleasingAbba #TeenMom

My fairy tale? To be continued…….

Where Are The Boys?

A recent article I read reminded me of an important truth I faced as a teen mom. It was this really cool article in Lens on NYtimes.com – “Teenage Motherhood in Latin America” written by David Gonzalez. Really interesting, to me, because it was research from the field on a topic I am most passionate about – teen moms and their real life stories. As I looked through some of the photographs shown for the article from the collection entitled “Teen Mom”  (www.christian-rodriguez.com) I was saddened. I felt compassion for these young girls. I recognized the look in their faces and behind their composure: They were experiencing the unknown, they were in a struggle. This gifted photographer, Christian Rodriguez, spent time capturing images of birth and then the following day. He also wanted to shed light on the poverty some girls were coming from by photographing them in their homes. It is a powerful work that shows the reality of teen sex. This story reminded me of a detail I had overlooked in my own writings, a fact many of these young mothers are combating alongside stereotypes and poverty. It was noted in this article that,

“At a Montevideo hospital where he photographed the girls in labor, the majority showed up with their mothers, as the boyfriends had long left the scene.”

As I read the words I was overcome with the familiarities of my own background. I knew I faced birth alone, but the thought never occurred to me that the majority of teen moms do the same. I was so moved by the sheer poverty and lack of support these girls were facing in Latin America; giving birth in a plastic bed with plastic sheets, a line of nursing students watching their every contraction and pain induced cry. Alone. No boyfriend or spouse, just their mother. I too walked into labor and delivery with my mother when I was only 16. She was the one who went to Lamaze classes with me. She waited on call those last days and she was there as I gave birth. I saw this in my teen mom program at an alternative high school as well. Out of all the teen moms, few still had contact and support from the father of their baby. The boyfriends/fathers were long gone.

boys

Over the years I have had the opportunity to have some men talk frankly with me about this topic. More than one have confessed that after sex a man walks away free and clear, only the females are left to face the consequences of a child. That perhaps it was unfair, but that this is the way it is. I always thought these types of attitudes that dismiss the male role in caring for an unplanned pregnancy and child to be a complete cop-out.

Anyone can walk away, but we are still ultimately responsible for the life we create

How can anyone have a child in this world and just not care? How can the majority of boys and men really believe it is not their concern, or that it is okay to simply have sex with a female and leave aftermath behind? I believe many do care. It’s time to stop using the excuses and demand more from our boys. It’s time we raise them to understand sex creates life and it’s a huge responsibility. Lifelong issue can come with sex and we can no longer afford to cast the full load upon our teen girls, their families and the government. This may mean having more difficult conversations and holding our young men accountable. This may mean taking a more active role in who are daughters spend time with and holding those individuals liable if an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Where are the boys, free world? More importantly – where are their leaders?

May I Have A Word? Encouragement For New Moms

Motherhood. It is a word that can bring lots of images and thoughts to mind. It is a beautiful experience and one that softens a women in a way nothing else can. The cry of a baby, so tugs at the mother’s heart that she must respond. The beauty is so real and raw, the stress and sacrifice also as consuming to a new mother. As a Teen Mom I really lacked patience. I was pretty selfish still, totally normal for a sixteen year old girl who’s only previous responsibilities failed in comparison to caring for a newborn. I also lacked parenting skills in general. We all have instinct as moms, it is a great thing. But the question I have to address is more about influence than instinct, more to do with lies than truth.

Why Do We As Moms Become Harsh and Impatient With Our Children? What Causes Us to Lose our Loving Nature and Become Annoyed With the Responsibility and Demands of Motherhood?

Now I know I am going to have to explain my way through this, but bear with me, I have a valid case. I was a short-tempered, stressed out Teen Mom. It was a common place occurrence in my younger parenting years. I actually developed this insane idea. I had a son and his father was never involved. I told myself I had to be both a stern disciplinary and a mother. If I did not raise my son harshly as a man would, I thought in my young ways, I would be failing him as a boy/man. It makes me shake my head just thinking about it, but this was the reality of an inexperienced mind. I know from my own situation that I was uneducated on parenting stragegies and outcomes. Most of my ideas had come from other people’s opinions which were also ignorant.

A child should be seen and not heard

A child should listen the first time they are Instructed to complete a task

If a child misbehaves, they must be punished

A child should have manners

A child should not run or be a nuisance in public

Certain places, like restaurants and movie theaters, should ban children because they are unwanted by adults trying to relax

There arewp-1456254468885.jpg so many false mindsets in society. I know that rules and discipline are important, but let’s call this training. Training a child is a lifelong commitment. It takes lots of love and endurance to see it through to adulthood. Let’s replace these former ideas with some truth.

We were all children at one time

Children are pure and innocent, unaware and in need of guidance

Children are sponges, soaking up everything new in a beautiful world

Ages 0-5 are the most influential years of a human being’s life

Children thrive in loving environments where they are respected and educated

I am all for a world of sweet, well-mannered children. To have well-behaved children, someone has to invest in them. Someone has to provide the skill sets needed to walk in obedience and respect. Children must be shown the way to go, not simply told. This takes time and hard work, which brings me to my next question:

Where do our expectations for our own parenting experiences come from?

Are we all caught up in images? Is it the fairy tale dream? Happy family, all dressed in coordinating outfits, smiling and healthy? (I love those kind of pics, don’t get me wrong) Do we only see the fun, the bliss and not the hours of hard work needed to be invested in parenting?

I couldn’t really prepare for the amount of hard work I was facing because I had no prior experience. Becoming a teen mom was scary for me. I was dealing with an internal war, one of survival. It was hard to focus on being a good mother, especially a single mom. I was in the dark, grasping for what I could to do my best. Of course I wanted to be a good parent for my son. Does anyone give birth and want to do wrong by their child? Young moms try to embrace your time with your child. Always yield to love, whenever you can. Know that discipline is something you teach your children only through a commitment and passion to see them succeed. Ignore the cold glances and criticism that tell you to toughen up on your little ones. Ignore the sarcasm you hear from other moms that tell you to be impatient with your child’s neediness and how burdensome it is.

I have done some research over the past ten years and have made a point to ask older women I come into contact with in the community, “What is your best piece of advice for a younger mom like me?” Hands down it is always the same answer,

“Enjoy your time with your children, it goes by too fast.”

Never once has a kind old lady who came to coo at one of my babies over the years said, “Hire a babysitter more” or “make sure you discipline them with punishments” or “Make sure you get enough you time”. It just doesn’t happen. They have all encouraged me to embrace motherhood, to give it my all, to ENJOY IT! Stay in love, you were made for this role teen mom. #PleasingAbba

What A Teen Mom Needs To Hear

So many things going on in the head of a new mother, how much more a teen mom? Teen moms have to combat stereotypes, negativity and sometimes the stress of being a single parent. It is a lot to carry around for a teen. Many may find themselves isolated from peers and circles they used to belong to. Because they are now caring for their child, it can feel like they just don’t belong among former friends or other teens. I felt this way. I felt a strange sense that I was different. It was always with me. I still went to parties, I still went to prom and other social events, but the fact that I was now a parent never really left me. If I went out at night, I still had this lingering feeling in the back of my mind that when I got home, my son was waiting. In some ways it was good for me. I avoided heavy drinking and drugs thinking,

“What if my son needs me? I can’t be high unable to get sober. I can’t afford to end up in the hospital or worse.”

Although I sometimes benefited by default, being a teen parent isolated me from the majority of same aged peers. Unfortunately, adults and teachers can also cast a judgmental light on a young parent. Even within my own family there was such a high level of ignorance and apprehension. They didn’t see what I had faced at school and the pressure I was under. They simply judged and held the assumption that I was bad. I must be. I got pregnant at 15 – good girls don’t do that, right?  Even though some people in my family and society never made a rude comment while managing to fake a smile at me and my child, their opinions were crystal clear. They lacked compassion and the ability to sincerely support me, a young lady, who had endured being victimized by her peers and culture. People on the outside did not know nor understand my story, yet they felt sure I was worthy of shame for the sake of tough love and being taught a lesson.

beach2

So there I was, feeling all this. Different. Isolated. Hurting in so many ways with no real loving wisdom to commune with. The reality of growing up was still on me. I still was experiencing the pressure to be successful and make something of myself. I still had competition in my family and fellow teens. They were all making plans to graduate and go onto college. They were getting jobs and talking about moving out on their own. I was thinking about my future also, but I was doing it as a young parent. It was a lot. Priceless how as human beings we have the ability to survive and find a way.

I distinctly remember one of the ways I stayed encouraged. It was going to visit my Grandfather on Sundays. Ever since I was very young, my mother’s family had gotten together on Sundays after church for lunch. It was a casual get together, you never had to call ahead. Every single Sunday, my Grandfather opened his home to all of us. There was always a simple lunch of sandwiches or hot dogs on the grill, and there was always coffee with cookies for dessert. We talked and visited.  I was grateful for the familiar faces and to be fed, but that’s not really why I went.

At the end of every visit when we said goodbye, my Grandfather would give me a big hug and say, “You’re doing a great job!”

My Grandfather was known for his bear hugs. I had been receiving them as a parting right ever since I was a little girl. When we were small, we would all giggle in his arms after a giant squeeze and his “good-bye – I love you!”. But his message to me changed after I became a teen mom. I love you was still implied, but now he made sure to speak these words of power over me every time we met, “YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!”.

I do not know if I can convey in this post what that did for me. I am not sure if my skills as a writer are up for the task, because when he spoke it, I didn’t believe it. I was so broken and overwhelmed, so isolated and alone; I really could not accept that I was doing a good job. This is true even though I had never given up and was doing my best. If I was doing a good work, why didn’t it feel better, easier?  I needed to hear his words. I went back again and again, Sunday after Sunday, just to hear that steady voice of optimism over my situation. I went just to hope he was right, just to be assured one more time. It was like a life line. It was like if someone in my world doesn’t believe in my chance to make it out, I won’t. Thank God for my Grandfather. Thank God for others like my Teen Mom mentor at school, who was another powerful voice I had to speak hope and confidence into our lives. This is what a Teen Mom needs to hear:

You’re doing a great job!

You can do anything you set your mind to!

There is hope for you and your child!

Keep going and keep chasing your dreams!

1 in 3 American girls will become pregnant by age 19, do you think you might come across a Teen Mom in your grocery store or at the local library? 1 of 10 babies born in the U.S. is born to a Teen Mom, do you think your children and grandchildren will have companionship with these kids as their peers in school? What about at your Church? If statistics tell us you will likely have a connection with a Teen Mom in society, can you make a conscious choice to support her with one word of encouragement? I hope so America – Together we can change the risks to these vulnerable families. #PleasingAbba