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Parenting: The Great Equalizer

24 May

When I first got pregnant, I thought I would spend the rest of my life (or at least several more years) being shunned. I thought people would perceive me as an inexperienced kid masquerading as someone’s mother. While that view is something all teen moms are bound to run into now and then, it has been surprisingly irrelevant. Parenting makes us all equal. Equally confused and terrified, that is.

But, maybe you’re thinking, older moms have time to read a lot of books. They’ve probably watched other people’s kids. They know how things work.

God, I wish that were true, because then maybe some of the dozens of books I read as my belly swelled for nine months actually would have helped me. Unfortunately, none of them said what to do when your daughter screams if you even get her near her crib, and she won’t sleep unless you’re holding her in a semi-upright position. None of them told me what to do when your toddler won’t eat.

Wait, let me rephrase. They all told me what to do in such situations, and they all said something different, and they all ignored the little things that can make their advice completely useless. I’m not sure there’s a single one I didn’t end up chucking in the trash during a particularly difficult parenting fiasco.

And then there are the serious resolutions parents-to-be make in that magical period of time before the baby is born when they think they know everything and don’t yet have to put any of it into practice. This is just anecdotal, but 100% of my friends who said they would never co-sleep did end up co-sleeping at times. 100% of my friends who said they’d wear the baby everywhere at all times (after all, The Happiest Baby on the Block must be right!) ended up leaving the baby in the bouncer once or twice just so they could take a shower alone and without listening to ear-shattering shrieks.

I’m not just talking about teenage moms. I’m talking about moms who, after years of trying to get pregnant, had their first child in their forties. I’m talking about moms who’ve been reading parenting books for decades. I’m talking about moms who have worked as nannies and thought they knew everything.

Being a first-time parent is a lot like being a teenager: you think you know everything, until you don’t.

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I Wanted You, Persephone

22 May

Dear Persephone,

I wanted you. When you are sixteen, and we are in the middle of a fight, and you say, “But you were eighteen! I was an accident! You don’t want me!” know that a) you are really cute when you’re angry, at least right now, and b) that’s totally wrong.

It took more desire for me, an eighteen-year-old with a surprise pregnancy, to have you than it might for a thirty-year-old with a stable environment. It is easy to want a baby when your life is ready to accommodate one. It’s indescribably scary to want to keep your baby when your life is not ready at all. That didn’t stop me.

Sincerely,
Mom

10 Things I’ll Tell My Daughter About Sex*

20 May

1. Guys aren’t the only way to feel good. Try a vibrator before a boy.

2. But hey, girls can’t get you pregnant. Wink, wink.

3. Yes, I will take you to get birth control if and when you decide to have sex. In fact, maybe you should start taking it now. No, you don’t have to hide it from me. You should probably just take it along with your daily vitamin. I won’t make any awkward jokes.

4. Yes, I will purchase condoms for you, though you can go get some free ones from Planned Parenthood. I think Abercrombie sells them too. I know because I remember the parental outrage.

5. Here is my credit card. Here is www.tryavibratorinsteadofaboy.com**.

6. You can get pregnant during any hetero+vaginal intercourse. Even on your period. Even standing up. Even if you pray real hard.

7. Pregnancy is not the worst thing sex can bring. So don’t skip a condom just because you’re on birth control.

8. If you get pregnant, how to proceed will be your choice. Abortion is perfectly okay. Adoption is perfectly okay. Keeping the baby is perfectly okay.

9. Don’t base sex just on love. Base it on whether or not you’re ready to deal with the complications it brings into your life. A feeling of love is worth bullshit when compared to readiness and responsibility.

10. Have fun. If you’re not having fun, say no. It’s not worth doing it just to please someone else.

*I will probably be less snarky when I tell her these things.

**Unfortunately, this isn’t a real web site.