Sometimes, it felt like I was the only child while I was growing up because my first sibling didn’t come along until I was eight years old. Being an only child has its benefits, but it also has its faults. Sometimes it was awesome because I had all the attention, but sometimes is was exhausting because I had too much attention. I had cousins to play with, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t have a sibling to bond with like my other cousins did and that made me feel left out and lonely sometimes. My parents probably didn’t know that I felt that way, but that is okay! They were so young when they had me, that having another child right away would have been a poor choice. One of the things that I admire most about my parents is that they were smart enough to hold off on having more kids until they were in their twenties. A lot of people don’t have those kind of smarts, especially teen parents. They waited eight years to have more kids, and by the time the second kid came along, they were 25 and slightly more mature. Plus, they had me to help out if need be and to be honest, my help wasn’t needed as much as you would think. I looked after my siblings and lent a hand when needed, but I don’t actually remember having to babysit a lot or miss out on things because I had to watch a sibling. My parents had a lot of help with all of their children and I think that if they didn’t have the necessary resources to have four kids, I might not have any siblings.
Before my sister, Tayler, came along, I had gotten used to being the only child and doing things on my own. When she came home my whole world shifted. I suddenly had this baby to help look after. What the heck was I supposed to do with a baby? I couldn’t play with it, I couldn’t have meaningful conversations with it, and I couldn’t even tell it what to do. While my friends complained about their little brother or sister, I was excited I was finally not going to be the only child anymore. I was going to have a sibling I could hang out with and talk to. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong. While I did spend time with Tayler, we were still eight years apart so we pretty much had nothing in common other than the fact that we had the same parents. I couldn’t understand the gibberish that was coming out of her mouth and it didn’t help that she was like a human tornado every time she entered a room. She was so destructive that her nickname was “Taz”. I literally had to hide all of my belongings so she wouldn’t destroy them when she came into my room. I had to hide the breakables and make sure I didn’t have anything that could spill. I was constantly picking up after her, but I loved her nonetheless. She kept me on my toes and always had me laughing. I am happy to report that she still makes me laugh, just much harder. It wasn’t until she was in high school that we began to grow closer. My advice to her was more relevant and she could talk to me about things that she probably wouldn’t talk to my parents about. Her laugh makes me laugh, not because it’s a funny laugh (well sort of), but because it is a pure laugh, one that makes me proud to be her big sister.
Three years after Tayler was born, my parents decided to have another baby. My parents decided that if they had another baby then cool, if not, then that is cool too. So I suppose they weren’t not trying. Apparently my mom was fertile myrtle because she got pregnant not with one baby, but two! Before you ask, no, twins do not run on my mom’s side of the family, it was just a fluke. There is more to the story, but that is my mom’s story to tell, not mine. When she came home from her doctor’s office, she showed us her ultrasound photo that showed Baby A and Baby B. We all thought she meant view A and view B. We were mistaken. She repeated herself, “Baby A and Baby B”. When it finally clicked, everyone was beside themselves. How the hell were we going to take care of two more babies? And yes it was “we” because we were all in it together. I was excited, but scared at the same time. I had just gotten used to having a toddler as a sibling (a devilish toddler at that), now there would be two more of them! I think my worst fear was that they would be terrors like Tayler and if they were identical I would have trouble telling them apart from one another. To my relief, several months later John and Rhyan were born.
Once the twins were born, I think I was just entering the age where I wanted my own space so I would retreat to my room a lot. I also didn’t want them in my room because they were slobbery and sticky! Never fear though. Those little monsters found their way into my room one way or another. I would eventually put a baby gate in my doorway to keep them out, but they were just so cute I couldn’t handle denying them entry. They were much more mellow than Tayler was and they would just wander about my room without really making much noise. Now they are young adults and are doing things I probably don’t want to know about. They will call me from time to time and we will talk about what life is currently throwing at us, but most of the time we text or share memes.
I think my relationship with John and Rhyan is and was more of a parent/child type of relationship than it was with Tayler because I was 11 years old when they were born. There was an even bigger age gap, so I really didn’t understand the gibberish they thought were words. It was easier to let them be on their own because the three of them had each other to play with and they understood each other. They would do their own thing while I did mine. Once again I was by myself. I think that is why I don’t mind being on my own today. To this day I don’t like large gatherings for a long period of time. Even though we are more than a decade apart, I couldn’t be more happy to be John and Rhyan’s older sister. John has the biggest heart and his care for others amazes me. Rhyan is my mighty little protector and defender and she will always have my back. Tayler is full of spirit and her humor warms my heart. All four of our personalities couldn’t be more different, yet we are the same.
Having siblings that are much younger than me is one of the biggest challenges because we aren’t as close to each other like siblings that are one, two, or three years apart. At times I was like a third parent to my siblings. I still struggle with this because I have a hard time of wanting to be a parent figure to them and wanting to be their friend and I am not sure which person they want me to be when they ask me for advice. I am pretty sure it’s the later, although I want to be both, but I suppose being their parent isn’t my job. I am sad that we weren’t closer while growing up, but now that we are older it is easier to talk to them about certain things. It is absolutely uncensored and i love it. I admire all three of my siblings and I am humbled they are mine. Even though we are separated by years in age and miles in living distance, we have a special bond and I will cherish that forever.
Pop culture has taught us how to glorify one-sided social media and TV and sometimes we forget that there are multiple sides to every story. Two of the most popular TV shows that demonstrate this are 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. On those shows, we get to follow the lives of teen parents, but what we are really watching is the exploitation of their struggles and failures as parents while their successes get ignored. Don’t get me wrong though, most of what they show on TV is non-sense and it’s all for ratings, but the stories we don’t really get to see and understand is that of the child who is effected. This has a lot to do with the child being so young, but also because TV likes to dramatize their parent’s lives to make a good story. In this blog it is my mission to provide a voice to those children and to other people like myself who are products of teen pregnancies. I have been alive long enough to share stories of a child born to teenage parents and I suppose I wonder if there are any other people out there like me who suffer from anxiety or other ailments from similar experiences. Most of the time we hear from the perspective of the teenage mother, but now I want to share from the perspective of the child because I feel like our voice is often overlooked.
Feeling like you are sometimes overlooked or not heard can drive you crazy, but what happens if you live with a bunch of crazy people just like yourself? Let us talk about crazy people for a minute. I’m not talking about the clinically insane (or am I?). All of our families have crazy members. My family is full of them. In fact, I am one of them. But I love them and they love me. Those crazy people are who shaped me into the person I am today. Those crazy people were always around when I was a baby and young child, but the most important thing is that they were loving and caring people who helped my parents tremendously. I come from an amazing, yet complicated background. I was born to teen parents which is tough enough, but being born to teen parents where both came from divorced families made it even more difficult. The odds were definitely not in my parents favor, but they overcame the odds in more ways than one. Both sides of my family had to learn together what it was like to raise teenagers and their infant daughter. We all grew up together and we continue to grow whether we are living near or far. When I was a kid, one of the running jokes my aunt used to tell me to try and scare me when I was acting up (which was almost never because I was a weird kid and I never cried or got into trouble) was that she was going to take me back to where I really came from. She was going to take me back to my real parents (monkeys) at the zoo (probably because I was a hairy child and my parents were crazy like monkeys). If you find this funny and want your kid to turn out totally cool like me, I have many character building stories just like this one so stay tuned! If you really think about it though, a lot of families are ‘zoo-like’. There are so many different dynamics, but it works. It is because of things like telling me that I was born at the zoo that I have a twisted and sometimes morbid sense of humor. It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows being raised by teen parents. There were many ups and there were many downs, but I never went without and my parents always put me first. And to be clear, I had an amazing childhood, but it definitely wasn’t perfect.
It took me a very long time to mentally get to where I am today and I hope to grow even more as time passes. Finishing school in the last year and a half and finally getting my bachelor’s degree felt like one giant therapy session. Switching my major from Liberal Arts to Psychology was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only did I grow as a person, I was able to recognize things about who I am and where I come from in a way that I have never thought about before. I have a better and deeper understanding of who I am and where I came from. I also gained a new form of respect for my parents and myself.
I used to be an extremely anxious person all the time with high levels of anxiety because I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my adolescence and early twenties I chose to dwell and remember only the bad things that I had gone through with my parents (fights, family drama, being everyone’s therapist), but what I failed to see was that those experiences were important because my family was learning as things were happening. My grandparents had no experience in raising children that had a child themselves. Since I did know some of my family member’s deepest thoughts and secrets, I developed a lot of character and personality over the years, but I also gained a huge weight on my chest knowing the personal individual struggles of family members. I shouldn’t have had to hear the fights or known everyone’s business, but it is because of those experiences that I am who I am today. Those experiences and memories outline the conversations I have with my partner, teachers, co-workers, friends, and strangers on a daily basis. We are 100% made up of our memories and experiences. Without our memories and experiences, we would have nothing. We would be walking around mindless and emotionless. Just always remember that the experiences you want your children to have will define who they could become in the future. Don’t let your kids do asshole things because chances are they will do asshole things as adults. You are the creator of your life and the creator of your child’s life.
I am so excited to be writing again, but sometimes my words don’t work when said out loud so writing helps me express myself when words fail me. The way I speak to myself in my brain is nothing like what I sound like in real life. I feel like I am my true self when I am writing. I am 100% uncensored and honest. It is kind of like writing in a journal for the entire world to read. I may not have a million followers, but it makes me happy to be writing for those of you that are reading this and I hope that through my writings I might be able to help someone else who is going through a difficult time or that just needs a break from their norm. I want to document my life experiences to let you know you aren’t alone in your struggles. Everyone is human and has problems and if they try to tell you otherwise, then they are just lying to themselves and are full of shit.
There ARE silver linings and pots of gold at the end of rainbows, but that doesn’t come without a few storms here and there. I think a lot of people try to escape the craziness of their lives in hopes of finding peace by leaving. I did it. While some people might call it running away from their problems, I call it trying to find sanity and inner peace. When I left California I left my entire family behind, I left all of my friends behind, and I left behind all of the beautiful mountains and beaches California has to offer. But the most amazing thing I left behind was my anxiety (not all of it, but most of it…life would be boring if I didn’t have a little anxiety…said no one ever). Even though I left the crazy in California, I find myself wanting the crazy back. Not all of the time, but once in a while. I want to hug my family and friends and go to the beach. Sometimes I just want someone to take me back to the zoo.