I have a confession.
I used to watch Teen Mom.
Ok, ok. Maybe "used to" is a little too...past tense? Occasionally, when Dr. Drew interviews the girls, I still tune in to episodes of Teen Mom.
(Or read about them online.)
(It's like a train wreck. I just can't seem to look away.)
Most of my viewing time is spent wondering if the show really is accomplishing all that Morgan Freeman hoped: namely, reducing teen pregnancy rates. I struggle to determine if it is an honest and open look at the difficulty of parenting while still needing a parent or if it gives attention-seeking teens one more reason to get knocked up.
And it's not like I just struggle with those questions while playing Couch Commando with the remote. In my five (limited) years as an educator, I've seen way more than my fair share of teen mothers (and, to be fair, fathers). But despite all of my exposure, I have no idea how to respond to these very real, and often frustrating scenarios.
Take today, for example: I apparently enraged a student when I told him/her it was ridiculous his/her significant other was bringing their now month-old infant to the school for lunch. Let me give you the rest of the details: 1. The person bringing the infant was walking. 2. It was snowing (a lot!) outside. 3. I am sending 3-4 students home a day due to flu season. 4. The person bringing the infant was actually going to sit in the cafeteria with the majority of the student body to "show off" (their words, not mine) the new baby.
I understand that teenagers don't always make the best decisions; however, this particular incident left me chewing my tongue to the point of tasting blood--and not just because toting a month-old infant around outside in the snow to present him to whatever virus is floating in the cafeteria obviously indicates horrible decision making skills.
I had to shut my mouth because I will never see these situations outside of the spectacles of infertility.
(In my defense, I've managed to keep from sarcastically making comments like "Wow. I wonder how many of those people are going to be around to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over your six-year-old when you all are 21. Oh, wait. I do know. Almost none of them. Because they will be in the business of starting their adult lives while you are learning to navigate the life of a first-grader. Glamorous, isn't it?!")
It goes without saying that a fifteen year old is going to possess a certain amount of naivete when it comes to child rearing. After all, the fact that they still need parents to help them make difficult life choices pretty well means their parenting skills are non-existent. What I can't always explain is the almost uncontrollable surge of fury I have when these situations are aired openly and regularly in my presence.
As Ryan's due date (quickly!) approaches, I find myself waivering between panic, ecstacy and complete unbelief. The latter occurs daily--which is odd given that my stomach shifts on it's own and I really need to add a "team lift" sticker to my wardrobe as standing up on my own has become a little difficult. Regardless, I've said a hundred times how grateful Favorite and I have been to receive this opportunity. And over the course of this pregnancy, we've been given the multiplied blessing of sharing our joy with friends (and family) who have found themselves miraculously expecting after years of struggle.
To put it simply: For me--a several other people I know--this is a big deal. Huge. Gargantuan.
And I refuse to share any part of that experience with someone who is using their "crisis" situation to gain attention.
Some will probably see that as a little selfish. It's your perogative to believe that's who I am. But I can tell you honestly that all I really want is the blessing of his birth and his life. Other honorifics, while extremely awesome and very gratifying, are unnecessary in light of him.
I certainly don't mean these "teenage pregnancy" babies are worthless or less of a blessing because of the situation in which they are born. I just don't know how to navigate my "this is really special, waited for and miraculous" with their (very often) "we just didn't have a condom; I wanted someone to love me; I need this baby to get some attention from other people."
So tomorrow, another day closer to my due date, I am going to attempt to find a way to encourage the student who just delivered a healthy baby while keeping the conversation from connecting my impending delivery to her recent experience.
Similar or not, we just aren't the same.