I'm Not Part of an "Epidemic"

I flick through the world of television, and see teen mothers portrayed in different formats - news reports, reality shows, comedy sketches. And you know what? I don’t recognise myself in one single portrayal. You see, I’m not part of an “epidemic”, I’m not a statistic to be waved around to support abstinence only education or to be used as a headline on a piece about how teenagers have no ambition or sexual awareness or responsibility. I’m also too normal to have a whole MTV show devoted to the antics of my life. And a comedian would be hard pressed to find something about me to caricature to fill a sketch.

I have two degrees and a good job. I own a modest little house with my partner. I’m planning my wedding. I like indie music, making lists and painting my nails cute colours. I have a crazy little dog. I am a feminist, trained as a midwife and am passionate about finding little ways to love life. I am also a mother to two sons. And one of those sons just happens to have been born when I was still in my teens.

Does that last fact make me a bad or lesser person? Sometimes I think the media would like you to think so, and I have spent the eleven years since I became a teenage mother watching people make an assessment of me when we meet. It is clear when someone is mentally trying to figure out my age when I tell them I have a tween son. And it is also clear when they are struggling to reconcile the woman in front of them with what they expect of someone who had a kid while her friends were still in school. This used to make me feel uncomfortable. But more often now I like to think that by simply not fitting into the awful stereotype coined by the media, I am doing my bit to break down the barriers to people really seeing women and girls like me. And seeing us for what we are - individuals, just raising our kids.

Comments

Been there! Agh, the worst feeling is when someone asks you your age, looks at your child, looks back at you, and you can literally see them doing the math in their head. Then their eyes widen when they realize how young you were. That's usually when I want to just turn around and walk away from them. Anyway, bravo to you for sharing your story! And thank you for breaking down the barriers. : )

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