Yesterday I watched a video that had tears rolling down my face.
It took me back to a time when I was a teenager. All I wanted back then was a family, thought my 15 year old self.
And so it was that I “fell in love” and tried for a year to get pregnant. The boy and I decided that if I became pregnant, we would be allowed to be married.
I became pregnant at almost 17 years of age. I went to Planned Parenthood and they gave me the happy news.
I had no permanent home. I shifted back and forth between friends’ homes until their parents would shift me along and back out on my own.
But I was so happy with the knowledge that I would have the baby I’d wanted so much. I would have that family I’d been denied.
However, when I told the boy the news, he was not happy, as I’d expected him to be. He was upset. Unbeknownst to me, he had been seeing another girl. And she too became pregnant.
He told me to get rid of “it.”
I understand he too was just a boy. Nineteen years old. But I was devastated.
The other girl had a father and mother who looked out for her, and so they were married.
After I had my daughter, I went back to school and sat in classes with her as I watched her burgeoning belly grow another daughter for this boy, who had not bothered to come see his first one.
No one in his family acknowledged my daughter. Or helped me out in any way.
The reason I am telling you this story is really not about the boy I knew at all. Or what happened when I was a naive teenager.
It’s about the women who mother these boys, then protect them from having to take responsibility for the children they bring into the world.
All the while blaming the girl who becomes pregnant.
News to mother of boy: she didn’t get there alone.
I didn’t see it then. I just felt shame.
But I see it so clearly now.
These mothers are women just like you and me. But in the rush to see that their sons’ futures are not complicated by the constraints a child might bring to their lives, they often chastise and ostracize the girl.
The girl that carries their grandchild. The one they often don’t want to know about. So sometimes they close their eyes to what their son was also a part of.
And pretend it never happened.
I never had a son. But if I had, I promised myself that I would one day, when he was a teenager, say to him:
“If you get a girl pregnant, you are in it for the long haul. You will not run away. You will not forsake her. You will honor your child. Because you had just as much to do with this as she did.”
Forty some odd years ago, things were different. Girls did not proudly go to school in maternity smocks (maternity smocks!) unless they were married and had a shiny new ring on their finger.
Then it was expected that their child would “arrive early.” And no one pointed fingers.
But if you were the girl who became pregnant and the boy turned you away, you were a whore.
Oh but, boys will be boys, someone will say…
Isn’t it interesting how thin the divide is between one girl and another? The divide is the width of that shiny gold ring.
The thing that gives one girl the promise of happiness. And the other the promise of being alone and ashamed.
The world is not as it was then.
But if you’re born a woman, you must realize that in some ways, it always will be.
So if you happen to be the mother of that boy, and your first thought is that you don’t want this girl to ruin his life, remember that the girl is in dire need of your support.
Remember that she just as well could have been your child.
And please don’t turn away and pretend she doesn’t exist because it has caused a ripple in your boy’s life.
Please don’t let him think that he can just skate when it comes to standing up and doing the right thing. Make him understand that if he brings a child into the world, he is in it for the long haul.
Because children often create children.
Please watch the video and tell me your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to your input.