My parents are married and all of my siblings are from the same parents. I’d just like to get that out of the way because I get asked a lot if my parents are still together and if my siblings and I come from the same parents since there is such a big age gap between us. It is uncommon for people in my parent’s situation to still be married and there were times where they almost weren’t, but they have come a looooong way. I am a firm believer that no one has the whole marriage thing down because the truth is, life is constantly changing and we have to change with it. My parents have overcome many obstacles, but now that all their children are grown, it will been fun to see what their life will be like sans school aged children. My parent’s obviously did things a little backwards, but they did do things like other couples did. They got married, had kids (one before marriage, obvi), and bought a house. Their wedding wasn’t grand, but it was special.
Weddings have been around for a long time and even though weddings have evolved over time, the gist is about the same. Family and friends come together to celebrate the union of two people and eat and drink and have a heck of a time. In most weddings, the father of the bride walks down the aisle with the bride or groom and “gives them away”. This is all usually done in a fancy environment and your kid is usually not in attendance because first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage (for the record, I don’t believe you have to be married to have kids). Certainly, at most weddings, guests do not show up with their half naked baby in tow…because it is a wedding…but someone did just that at my parent’s wedding. I understand that styles change, and to each their own, but in the case of the wedding of my mother and father, some standards were thrown out the window for some people who were in attendance (but did they even have standards to begin with? Probably not). Maybe it was because some guests thought, “Oh, they already had the baby so this is just a formality”. Or maybe it was because the wedding was being held in a backyard and not a fancy reception room. I don’t know. What I do know is that it was the most exciting day of my life because my mom and dad were getting married and my mother looked beautiful in her dress. My dad, while he was handsome as ever, wore black dress shorts and a penguin tail suit jacket (please see the below photo). I was five years old when my parents got married and thought it was normal to be at their wedding. Looking back at it, I probably thought all little kids attended their parents’ wedding. I think I may have just started school, or was about to start, so I had no little kid friends to compare lives with.
The coolest part about my parent’s wedding was that I got to give my mom away to my dad (and one of the guests gave me a Precious Moments doll). I got to wear a pretty dress and flower crown (I was obsessed with both), and I was able to walk down the aisle with my mom like a grownup. I think my childhood dream was to be a grownup. Most kids probably wanted to be things like a firefighter or superhero, but I just wanted to be a grownup and walking down the aisle with my mom allowed me to feel like one. She didn’t have a relationship with her dad, so it was my responsibility to fill that part. I think that as I write this, I am just now realizing that I wanted to be her protector because she didn’t have one. She was my protector, and I was her’s. Yes, she had her mom, her siblings, and my dad, but in my eyes she was my responsibility just as much as I was her responsibility. Sounds strange, but it makes perfect sense in my brain. I think those kind of emotions are pretty heavy for a five year old and it shows.
Like any adult in a wedding party, I got to stand at the altar with the bride and groom. In reality it was more like, “You’re our kid daughter so ya, duh, you are a part of this as much as we are,” but I didn’t feel like a little kid. At times I felt so grown up, and when I wasn’t included in things, I got offended. Those aren’t really feelings that a five year old usually has, but I did. I also thought about things like how people were going to get home safely if they had been drinking, and I consciously thought about what to and what not to say in front of certain people. To me, that is a ludicrous skill to have at five years old. People might have known or might not have, but I was ALWAYS listening. Not that I was being nosy, I was just taking mental notes of how to be an adult. This is why I tell my friends to watch what they say around their kids because it could potentially stick with them for their whole life and impact how they make decisions. I am glad the adults in my life growing up weren’t dumb dumbs because I would be royally screwed.I think as a kid I was always in my own thoughts and analyzed things way too much, which is where some of my anxiety comes from. I was never that kid who would go off and play with other kids, partially because I was the only kid around, but also because I was more interested in what the adults were doing.
Someone once asked me if I always knew my childhood was different or if I had to be told it was different and the short answer is yes to both questions. One thing that you have to understand about having teen parents is that I didn’t know any different, just like you didn’t know any different about your upbringing. I knew that my parents were young when they had me and I knew that we were not a typical traditional family, but what is typical anyway? To be honest, I dislike when people talk about what should be “traditional” or “typical” because we live in a world where things like that shouldn’t matter. You should do what is best for you and your family and do what is ‘traditional’ for you. I was always treated like an adult while growing up, I was never lied to and my parents never fabricated stories to hide things from me. I am sure they told me sugar coated versions of some things to keep my child brain safe, but for the most part, they told me anything I wanted to know. I always knew that I came from a complex situation and that my upbringing was different from other children, but I was and still am proud of my upbringing. I was the luckiest five year old because I got the honor of walking my mom down the aisle and witness my parent’s marriage to one another. Most people can’t say they got to participate in something so special. My parent’s marriage wasn’t and isn’t perfect, but whose is?
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.