When I was 20 years old and pregnant with my first child (and only one so far) I was told that I didn't deserve a baby shower, and that what I had done to get pregnant in no way deserved a celebration. It is true that I was young and unwed, and in a two year relationship with a boy that I probably should have never even met, but words like that are hard to hear for a scared young girl, especially coming from her mother.
It was for reasons such as those, among others, that I waited until I was almost 7 months pregnant to tell my mom, even though I lived with her during that time. During the second to last trimester of my pregnancy it was fall and winter, and I was able to wear big thick sweat-shirts in order to hide my tummy. I also spent most days trying to avoid my mother at all costs. The whole time my boyfriend's family said, "I can't believe your mom doesn't know," but she didn't, and I focused my entire being on keeping it that way. At what was supposed to be one of (if not the) most important times in my life I was busy hiding in my bedroom, bawling my eyes out, and working long hours to save money to move out, because I knew I would have to when I told my mom the news. Every fiber in my being and all the energy I had was put forth to keep my 'tragic' secret.
Then the day came. I have never felt such humiliation as when I told my mother I was pregnant. I believe the first word out of her mouth after me divulging my secret to her was "abortion." After I told her no that I wasn't doing that, and that it was too late anyway rage filled her veins and I was called anything from a slut to a whore, and the phrase that still hurts the most and makes me sick as it plays over in my head is, "you're just (insert boy's name here)'s little slut aren't you? That's all you are." These words scarred my heart, and still play over and over to this day. My beautiful son was then referred to as a "n*gger bastard," because his father's mother was African American, and I was told he would be an outcast to the entire family. Why would I want to do this to a child? Why why why? I can't repeat everything that was said, but you get the jist of it.
Needless to say, my family never gave me a baby shower, and actually I spent the last couple of months of my pregnancy hiding myself from society (at my mother's
wishes demands). When shopping she would suggest that I go to the next town north so that no one I knew would see me. She wouldn't tell anyone that we knew. She didn't even tell the family.
While thinking about this period of my life, my heart swells with pain, and I'm wiping the tears from my face. I ache and yearn to have those 9 months back. I yearn to sit and rub my tummy and talk to my unborn child and play music for him, and I yearn to have protected him and myself from all those horrible words and that hell-on-earth that we lived in. It would mean so much to be able to enjoy the most important 9 months of my life as a woman rather than feel the humiliation and shame that was forced upon me.
One thing I remember very clearly is logging onto babycenter.com, and talking about my pregnancy in the forums. Every time mom would come near I would quickly shut down my browser for fear that she would look at me and see the bit of excitement twinkling in my eyes. That was not allowed, and would have only been shot down with a reminder that my "situation" was nothing to be proud of or excited about. I had heard this so much and it was beat into my head so hard that 75% of me believed it too by this point.
If I could go back I would do things differently. I would walk around proudly in public, without taking my mother's advice (or directions should I say) to not go into public in our town. I would buy beautiful maternity shirts instead of wearing over-sized sweats, and I would show off my bulging tummy rather than trying to suck it in and slouch over to hide it. I would enjoy my pregnancy and the changing of my body rather than being shameful. I would put together a beautiful nursery instead of throwing together the second hand things given to me at the last minute by my family who she didn't approve of my telling until around 2wks before my son's birth. Looking back I know that all of this was completely wrong, but who else did I have but my mother? Who does a young girl turn to in times like these? Her mother. So I acted on all of her suggestions, regardless of my better judgement.
Now, almost five years later, I know what it means to be a mother. Motherhood is not about marriage, although marriage is a beautiful thing. I've learned in my years as a single mother that marriage does not equal motherhood and motherhood doesn't equal marriage. Motherhood is about strength, endurance, soft smiles during 4am feedings, sweet kisses after bath time, reading Dr. Seuss over and over and over again. It's about time outs, and baseball games, and being "the meanest mommy in the world" every now and then. It's about hugs, and laughter, and chocolate covered faces. And, did I mention Dr. Seuss? That is a lesson that I wished I had learned 5 years ago. Another thing I wish I had known back then is that motherhood, in any form, deserves a celebration.
Happy Mother's Day!