Proud Teen Parent

Have you seen these ads? 

I’m not a fan of these ads. When I was pregnant for the first time I was 17 making me a ‘teen parent.’ I hadn’t finished high school, I didn’t stay with her father, I didn’t have a good job, in fact, for  quite some time I had no job at all which ultimately led us to living in poverty for several years. I guess my past situation validates these ads but that is only half of the story. Maybe this is what irks me about these ads. Yes I was poor, yes I was alone but given the chance, I wouldn’t change a thing!

The experiences I had shaped me and changed me and led me to where I am today. I’m not rich but we don’t live in poverty any more. I am still raising my children alone but that is how I want to raise them. I did finish high school while completing a diploma program and am now on the verge of graduating from one of the top universities in Canada with a degree in a field I absolutely love. The problem I have with these ads is that they seem to be portraying teen pregnancy as an end to what could have been a good life; an act of closing doors and ruining your chances – which it can be but doesn’t have to be!

These ads also seem to be targeting those who are either already pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant (i.e. participating in unprotected sex). All these ads seems to be doing is shaming. They provide no alternatives or strategies for prevention. They are laying the blame and responsibility of teen pregnancy on female teens but it isn’t a female teen problem, it is a societal problem! If I had of saw these ads while pregnant I would have been deeply bothered by them, especially the “Honestly Mom…” one. The condescending tone speaking to young mothers-to-be as though they are complete idiots is not going to motivate or inspire positive changes but rather seems like kicking someone when they are already knocked down.

The tagline “Think being a teen parent won’t cost you?” is again condescending. When I found out I was pregnant I knew it was going to cost me. I took extra shifts and got a second job so that I was able to save my money and could afford necessities such as a car seat, crib, diapers, etc. I knew it was going to cost me my social life. Most of my friends slowly trickled out of my life but with that came new friends. I couldn’t participate in all the same activities I enjoyed before pregnancy and parenthood but I found new activities to enjoy. Isn’t this true with parenting at any age though? Why does no one speak to a 30 year old married women who engages in unprotected sex? Becoming a parent is costly at any age. Becoming a parent has cost me my ‘typical’ young adult years but I’ve gained much more than I’ve lost. And then there’s the claim that parents should expect to spend “more than $10 000 a year to raise a child” I’d like to see where they get their stats from because that is absurd! To be quite honest there have been years where my household income was not even $10 000 but I seemed to manage to raise not one but two young children. I think spending $10 000 on a child in one year is ridiculous and I’m not the only one who thinks raising children doesn’t have to be that expensive. Read Babies Really Don’t Cost That Much from Feisty Red Hair‘s Katherine Martinko – another proud young mother of two who doesn’t spend 10 grand a year on her children – for more on why there is no need to spend thousands on your children.

The one that infuriates me the most: teen4n-1-webReally? This one makes my blood boil simply because I didn’t do any of those: didn’t finish high school, didn’t start my career, and didn’t get married before having children. I understand that financially someone might be better off having children after checking these accomplishments off their life to-do list first but this ad is nothing more than a strict Christian ‘abstinence only’ perspective and it saddens me to think our society has yet to move past this mentality. I know many families that have followed this ‘preferred’ path and are still living in poverty, marriages are unhappy and some end early, and children aren’t raised in a positive environment. Being married is NOT a guarantee of a prosperous life like this ad is insinuating.

These ads are attempting to tell young people that teen pregnancy is a costly mistake. For me and my unique situation, I am grateful and proud of my ‘mistake’ and couldn’t imagine my life any other way. I love being a young mother, am proud that I was once a teen mom, and feel no shame regardless of what New York’s Human Resources Administration claims.

 

Related Posts:

And then there was one…
Bad Mommy Moment

 

No Rhyme or Reason

This post is in response to a recent email from someone who is following my blog. I thank her for her kindness and thoughtfulness and respect her opinions. I too have my own opinions.

I will not use her name but she did however give me permission to copy/paste bits of her email to me.

“I enjoy reading your articles and often browse through your archives reading posts I missed throughout the past few months. As I was doing this the other day I couldn’t help but wonder what your blog was all about exactly.”

“….I think you’d be able to create a stronger following if you had a specific topic of interest or purpose. One clear cut reason for blogging…”

Once again, I do thank this women for all her comments, compliments, and constructive criticisms. And in case others share her same wave length, here’s the deal, my blog has no real rhyme or reason. No specific purpose or “topic of interest.”

The reason I began writing my blog was just for pure fun. Why not have a blog? It doesn’t cost me anything and I enjoy writing. I write (and will continue to write) whatever I’m interested I’m at that particular moment. Sometimes it’s food and sometimes it’s kids, sometimes it’s complaining and sometimes it’s boasting. But all the time, it’s whatever is on my mind.

I am the type of person who changes their mind, a lot! What I like or am focused on one day might very likely change the next. I believe to focus on one thing is to limit oneself. Why put up walls on a blog when it can so easily be free of boundaries.

The focus of my blog, as it reads across the top of the screen, “Taking big steps, making big changes, appreciating every little thing along the way”

In the past year I’ve made some major lifestyle changes. I’ve made several immensely life changing decisions – and this is the focus of my blog. Everything that is involved in my life & lifestyle. Sorry if I jump from food & recipes to rantings of a single mother to re-telling a funny story.

I’m honoured that you’ve all chosen to take a little peek into my life & my blog and I hope you continue to do so. But if a “focus of interest” is what your looking for, look elsewhere because I ain’t what your looking for!

*but I could point you into the direction of some fantastic, focused blogs*

The Breakup

It’s the most dreaded part of the relationship. When you know that there’s nothing left of it and there’s no point in putting in any more effort. It could be for a number of reasons and even a combination of reasons. Sometimes it’s a defence mechanism, a way to run & hide from the real issues, or sometimes it is truly for the best. It’s time to breakup.

This breakup isn’t with my boyfriend, he’s great and I foresee no breakups happening there! No, this breakup was not that kind of breakup but it was still a significant ending to a long relationship. Today I broke up with my (ex) best friend.

It has been a long time coming. We went to high school together and shared a lot of common interests, beliefs, etc. We had many great times together and were always there for each other when a friend was needed. Over the years we’ve had our share of ups and downs but nothing every tore us apart, we had a very strong relationship. We found in each other what everyone needs (especially through your teen years!) some who could be counted on, was always honest but never judged. We became especially close when I became pregnant. At 17 I was very young and unable to deal with everything alone, she was the one I could count on. She helped me prepare for the biggest life changing challenge I had ever taken on. She was with me through it all. After the birth of my daughter, and after the excitement wore off, she didn’t disappear as most of my other friends did. Aside from her I had very few people in my life. She helped me navigate motherhood & infancy but at the same time was able to remind me that I was only 18 and it was ok to act my age once in awhile. She let me know it was ok to not have my entire life figured out and constantly told me I was doing the right thing and being a great mother.

So if she’s all these great thing I bet your wondering why I ended our friendship aren’t you. Well, things change, people change….and some people don’t.

I think that the bottom line is that we have grown apart.

Physically in that I moved away a year ago and we’ve hardly managed to stay in touch. This happens with a lot of people in life I know but it is the way one deals with this that says a lot about character. There’s a friendship quote I can’t exactly remember (and don’t have time to Google) that says something about true friends being able to pick up right where they left off no matter how much time or distance has passed….this hasn’t been the case. It has been a year since I moved away and I’ve still got nothing but resentment and the “you abandoned me” comments. That makes it hard.

We’ve grown apart in more than just distance though. It has become increasingly difficult to even have a conversation because we aren’t on the same page. If a chance comes up for us to spend time together her suggestion would be strapping on some sexy heels and tight fitting, short dresses to go to a bar and dance the night away. This is no way interests me. I’d much prefer taking our dogs for a walk and just see where we end up, drink coffee and chit chat about life and love and children and…basically not be groped by men at a bar. Not to say that friends need to be interested in all the same things and like the same things but what we have become is complete polar opposites.

I don’t think that to be friends you have to be similar to each other but I do think that complimentary traits are key. You don’t need to enjoy the exact same activities but I do think that the underlying beliefs and values must be similar. This is where we differ greatly and as a result it has become clear that there is nothing left.

She isn’t the type of person I’d like in my life. My mantra “Taking big steps, making big changes” sometimes means tough changes. The life I want to create for myself and my children is a positive one that she doesn’t fit in to. And it has become clear that I don’t offer her what I used to. I am no longer that non-judgemental, always there for you, no matter what, type of friend she first found in me.

It is sad it has to come to this but all good things come to an end. I enjoyed the time we shared while it lasted and will cherish the memories. I’ll keep her pictures in my frames and always treasure her for what she’s done for me.

Have you ever had to breakup with a friend? This is my first experience but I think that in the end, it is best for us both.

Breakups are never easy.

How Dare I

If someone else was me talking to me, telling me of their recent to do’s and happenings I would want to give them a smack! Life is busy, yes. Busy can be stressful, yes, very true. But how dare I complain –  it is all about perspective

Wedding Stress Will No Longer Be Stressful!

Perhaps easier because the two weddings in one week week has begun and wedding #1 was FANTASTIC! It was beautiful sunshine, 4 boats, magnificent Lake Erie, and delicious fresh perch. Plus, wedding #1 allowed me to keep up with my most recent Weekly Intention by letting me enjoy several glasses of wine and champagne! Wedding #2 is quickly approaching (this Saturday) and should be another great time. In the recent weeks leading up to this week I’ve made my fair share of complaints. * Who gets married on the long weekend? Who gets married on a boat, on a Tuesday evening? How do I find a babysitter? What about my exams? Just to name a few! *  But how dare I complain about how much running around these weddings have/are causing! They provide a much needed break from the everyday schedule, an opportunity to celebrate love and life, and most importantly bring about an excuse to crack multiple bottles of wine! I love my family and spending time with those who don’t get visited often. Weddings are perfect for catching up, sharing laughs, and enjoying the company of those I love.

School Stress Will No Longer Be Stressful!

This one is a little tougher. Exams don’t allow for ample wine drinking or celebrations with loved ones. In fact, they require the exact opposite! Time spent alone studying rather than enjoying the summer sunshine and happenings. BUT if I can survive my final three exams – rephrase – WHEN (not if) I survive my final three exams I will be free & clear of any and all academic obligations for an entire month! Nothing good ever comes easy or without a fight. This is the final battle…it will be stressful but I don’t have to let it defeat me! Until the battle is over, I will try my best to remain calm, enjoy the fascinating topics I’m studying and I will continue eating my most favourite study snacks – Peanut Butter Perfection!!

Life is too much fun when it is enjoyed to be wasting it stressed! So here’s how I’m altering my perspective:

How dare I complain about having to be a part of two weddings in one week. Instead I will be grateful for (A) having wonderful friends & family to visit with (B) the excuse to drink excess amounts of wine (even mid-week!) (C) the opportunity to dress up doubled by the fact that I have a boyfriend who looks fantastic dressed up as well!! (D) the heels I’m wearing as Maid of Honour (in Canada we spell it with a ‘u’ – kind of like colour!) in my sister’s wedding are hot pink! (E) People are in love!

How dare I complain about school. Instead I will be thankful that I am able to pursue the field I am interested in, the learning challenges that excite me and act as stepping stones to the career that will fill my days with meaning and purpose. The challenges along the way are small in the big picture and help me grow and develop as a student, mother, and person in general.

*Glass of wine in hand* Here’s to a stressful week that will be enjoyed to it’s fullest potential, hope yours is enjoyable to!

Question of the Day: How do you alter your perspective AND have you ever had two weddings in one week?! 

Wasted

Yup, completely wasted.

No I’m not drunk blogging (although I’ve seen/read it being done and similar to drunk texting and drunk facebooking, it’s entertaining) Yes I may be a student but I’m not the typical sort who consumes an astronomical amount of alcohol and gets this sort of ‘wasted.’ When I refer to wasted I’m talking about wasted food. Wasted groceries to be exact.

Last night as the chicken was BBQ’ing and the table was set I was digging through the fridge to find the soy sauce to go with the munchkin’s rice (they’re addicted to the salt-infested sauce!) Through my digging I started coming across several spoiled items.

Grapes. Tomatoes. Left over Corn on the cob. Nectarines. Peaches. One plum. Left over homemade pesto sauce (so good!) Mayo that expired in 2011 (can ya tell I never eat the stuff?!) and finally, some cheese that had seen better days.

Just to clarify, I do clean out my fridge regularly generally right before or after the weekly grocery trip! So the issue isn’t a build up from lack of cleaning. I didn’t buy a lot of groceries last week – and the week before that we weren’t home. So the issue isn’t an excess of food. So what’s the issue?

It is frustrating when funds are limited (remember: single parent/student) to waste so much food. I am dollar conscious and so throwing away all that food felt like I was throwing cash straight into the trash (I made a rhyme!) It is also frustrating to know how many go without enough food and here I am wasting it. Not that they would have wanted to eat my mouldy cheese but it relates and makes me feel guilty.  

When we go grocery shopping we go with a list and for the most part we stick to the list (as long as I don’t shop hungry!). I encourage my kids to pick the fruits and veggies they would like to eat for the upcoming week and happily purchase their choices. However, it seems as though Kate (age 6) becomes madly in love with every fruit while grocery shopping. She gets so excited and giddy in the fresh produce section and tells me all about how much she looooves peaches. And plums. And oranges. And kiwi. And of course the regulars we buy every week like apples, bananas, and grapes. Kate’s deep love for fruit seems to flee once we leave the grocery store however, leaving the fruit to slowly evolve into piles of stinky mush in our fridge & fruit bowl.

Now I am not blaming my whole problem on a six-year old….just some of it. Changes will be made to this week’s shopping trip, she will be given limitations to her fruit selections. I just don’t like the idea of discouraging her love for fruit – it’s much better than a love for unhealthy snacks such as chips & cookies – but I don’t like the wasted food either.

We’ve come a long way throughout the past year with the whole “Eat what’s on your plate” rule. I’ve advocated for taking what you like but eating what you take. This lesson has had its share of ups and downs and it’s not over yet, but we’re getting there. Obviously we’ve got more work to do on the wasting food issue. Choosing snacks according to what is closest to spoiling, freezing what we aren’t going to eat before it’s too late…just a few strategies to try.

Basically just wanted to rant about wasted food. I don’t like it.

How do YOU avoid wasting food? Got any strategies you’d care to share?
*I did that rhyming thing again, and I liked it!

The Storm

Have you ever compared your life to the weather?

You know like, When it rains, it pours. ?

Well today I’m feeling like its the calm before the storm. Although I don’t live in an area that often has tornadoes or hurricanes or large scale storms of that sort, I can relate to the feeling.

I know that what is just around the corner is going to be tough. It’s going to be a battle that will likely knock me down, stomp on me, an scuff me up a little. But it won’t break me.

Here’s the outline: the final two weeks of the term, 6 final exams, 2 term papers….take a breather now while you still can…my boyfriend’s big brothers wedding AND my big sisters wedding – of which I am the maid of honour! Still breathing? Let’s also factor in the two kids who seem to require my time, energy, and attention what’s that all about and the travel time to get to both of these weddings. Although the one wedding is a small, casual, midweek affair, it is still a two hour drive making it less than convenient. As for my sisters, it’s far from small & casual! It’s the big kahuna. It also requires much more of my time. Rehearsal, last minute run arounds, etc etc. I haven’t even begun to think about my speech! that’s a lie, I think about it all the time I just haven’t written it!

So how to go about this forecasted storm….

I do lead a pretty busy & chaotic life in general so I’ve become accustomed to whirlwinds and have some strategies to help bear the storms:

1) make a list – several actually! A list for every topic, day, reminders, the list of lists I have is never ending but ever so helpful.

2) drink coffee. Pretty straight forward that one is.

3) when I’ve had too much coffee, switch to decaf green tea. If there’s time, throw a cinnamon stick in for good measure.

4) prep everything before bed. This includes everything from packing & loading the car to setting the coffee maker on auto brew (my true love).

5) stick as close to regular routine as possible. This one is for the kids. We are on the go so much that it is important to keep some things stable and predictable. Meal times, bed times, story times, etc. Basically, if it has a “time” it should be done at the regular time.

6) keep a spare phone charger in the car. You never know when you’ll forget/lose your charger and without my phone….let’s not even talk/think about that. Plus my many lists are generally saved on my phone – yes, there’s an app for that too!

7) make sure you have one strong person in your corner. This is where the boyfriend comes into the story! He’s definitely the rock I depend on at times like this. Even though he’s not often with me physically, he’s always with me. He’s always just a phone call, text, or email away and always willing to listen and help. He is my go to person when I am unsure or faced with a problem; a problem solver by nature. He should be #1 on my survival list simply because without him I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I do! He also looks pretty damn good when he’s all dressed up so that’ll make these weddings even more fun 🙂 sorry about all the mushy talk but if it weren’t for him I’d be medicated by now!

These will help me get through the next two and a half weeks. Actually, what is really getting me through is the thought of one full months vacation after it all! As soon as classes end & weddings happen, I’ve got a clear calendar for a whole month! Ok that’s another lie, we’ve got camping trips booked and day trips planned but there will be no studying or weddings! I just might get some sleep…

Heat Appreciation

That feeling you get when your fingers are so cold they feel twice their size and don’t work properly.

When your toes feel like they are frozen together inside your boots that claim to protect you in -20 degree temperature but they sure don’t! And then that awful feeling when you remove your foot from your boot and have to wiggle your toes and they feel like they are ripping apart.

When you can’t get up in the morning because the wood stove has gone out through the night and you’v found that perfectly warm cozy spot in your bed. If you move even a centimetre you’ll lose your warm spot.

The cold toilet seat. no explanation needed

Scraping the car windows. Aside from the kids enjoyment as I clear a hole in the window ice making the outside world visible from inside the car, this job is torture.

Snotsicle – if you don’t know what this is stop and think for a minute: your face is frozen, you can’t feel the moisture leaking from your nose, it ultimately freezes leaving you with not an ice-sicle but a snotsicle!

The getting out the door and off to school routine in December, January, February, March, and soemtimes even in April. The snow-pants, the hats, the boots that are still wet from yesterday, the one lost mitten, and then finding out the school buses are delayed due to snow and icy road conditions and won’t be picking kids up for another two hours.

Just reminding myself of all the reasons why I dislike the cold so that I can bear the heat a little better!