“It was the summer of 2019, two months after my 14-year-old daughter Ava’s 14th birthday, and we hadn’t heard of Coronavirus. I saw that Ava hadn’t asked for feminine goods in over six weeks. As I walked into Ava’s room and handed her a pregnancy test, I yelled, ‘Ava, take this pregnancy test in front of me right now!’ It felt like the longest three minutes of my life, and possibly hers, while we awaited the results.
At the time, we were a happy blended family of eight, and it was a new dynamic that I suppose we were all adjusting to. After many years as a single devoted dad of four children, I met a single father of 5-year-old twin twins. We knew we wanted our lives to blend right away, so we jumped right in, trying to figure out how to make this new family dynamic work for everyone. Raising six girls is a daunting task! My two oldest kids, Taylor and Ava, seemed especially receptive to a new father position in their lives. My ex-husband, their father, had died tragically only two years before.
Everything was running smoothly! We were all adjusting to our roles in this hybrid household. I’m sure Marques, my husband, and I had big plans for our daughters’ futures. After then, everything came to a grinding standstill. Our lives were turned upside down when we found out my 14-year-old was pregnant. To put it bluntly, I was upset. I was furious and humiliated. I was resentful of all the hard hours I had put in at work. I had misgivings about myself as a mother. I was furious that Ava’s father had died, leaving me to take on the roles of both mother and father.
The news upset Ava’s sisters, especially her older sister Taylor, who wailed and moaned, “Why does terrible stuff always happen to us?” I tried to persuade her and the rest of my children that everything would be alright. At the time, I had a nagging notion it was. I assumed Marques would run if this were too much for him. After that, I had to find out how to inform my family and friends. Everyone would declare me a bad mother, and Ava would receive even harsher treatment. Regrettably, this proved to be somewhat correct.
If Ava and her elder sister were thinking about sex at all, I had offered them the option of starting birth control shortly before she became pregnant. They were both smitten by a boy from their school. Because my dating rule was that you had to be 15, Ava was still not allowed to date, but I wasn’t deceived into thinking that making it difficult for her to spend time with this boy would prevent her from sneaking around behind me back. As a result, I established a rule that your male pals’ might come over as long as an adult was there. All of my rules were in place: no boys in bedrooms, no laying horizontally together anywhere, and no being under the same blanket. I taught the importance of safe sex and even accumulating money for marriage in all of my girls from an early age.
I was reared in a Christian home and raised my girls in a Christian home. They were well aware of the moral and societal consequences and the risks of having risky sex. At the same time, I didn’t want to shame them if they had sex before marriage and kept it hidden from me or felt unable to discuss it with me. This was my attitude toward my mother. In reality, my first child was born when I was 21, engaged, and living with my future husband. When my mother learned, she was devastated and wished for a brighter future. Shaming a grown adult who no longer lives at home sounded weird to me. I never intended to treat my children in this manner. So, even though I believed I had done everything perfectly, it didn’t work!
Ava and I talked about abortion, but she decided against it. I then suggested that Ava consider adoption. I even went so far as to offer myself as a potential adoptive parent for the child. I even informed Ava that if she wanted, we could keep her pregnancy a secret and tell everyone that I was the father.
I’m sure Ava considered all of her alternatives carefully. Ava eventually approached me, tears in her eyes, and said, ‘Mom, I can do this; I want to keep my baby and be its mother.’ ‘Mom, will you help me?’ Ava asked, looking more terrified than any child should. ‘I’m here every step of the way, darling child,’ I cried and hugged her.
Marques was the one thing that I believe changed both of our thoughts and gave us the strength to accept our circumstances, to welcome and adore this tiny infant into our family as Ava’s mother without lying or hiding our tale. Marques was the first person to show his support for Ava and me. It was a significant relief for me, and it gave us the courage to announce to the world that Ava was expecting a baby! Marques made us feel comfortable enough to take it a step further and be happy about this new tiny life that was about to enter our lives. I shall be eternally grateful to him for it.
‘What did the father think about it all?’ many people wonder. Many people believe he flew away, and many still believe it. It always amazes me how people make assumptions without even asking. From the beginning, Ava’s father has stated that he will support her in whatever decision she makes. He hasn’t changed his mind. He and his family have played a vital, even daily, role in the upbringing and care of both Ava and his children. Yes, you read that correctly; I said ‘both infants,’ and no, Ava did not give birth to twins.
So here we were, all of us, throwing a baby shower in honor of the impending arrival of a little BOY! A male was the most joyful news ever after having six girls in the house! We made it through the birth, and we were all getting used to our roles in assisting Ava and JK (the babies’ father) in their transition to adolescent parents. I was adamant about avoiding taking on the part of caring for my precious little grandson. I’m sure the other granny shared my sentiments.
I told Ava she needed to start using birth control right away. Even though she was now the kid’s mother with someone, the same regulations still applied to boys. JK was in her room with her infant, solely caring for the baby when I happened to walk in. But that didn’t matter to me; I was enraged, and I ripped her door off its hinges for two weeks. So here I was, feeling like I was in charge of ensuring she never got pregnant again and that I had made it nearly impossible for her to be alone with a boy. It happened yet again!
I kept a careful eye on Ava the second time she got pregnant while on birth control. For a long time, Ava kept her pregnancy a secret from me. She was terrified, and she was ‘hoping it would simply go away,’ as she put it. I noticed Ava wasn’t asking for feminine products again, and her body began to change in the same way it had during her previous pregnancy. I forced her to take a test, and she sobbed since she already knew the answers. Ava considered having an abortion but felt she was too far along in her pregnancy to go through with it.
As a result, we made preparations for baby number two! Ava had a daughter this time. The most adorable young girl ever. Now I have to figure out how to teach and support Ava in being not only a teen mom but a teen mom of two! I believe that the entire family, including us and the father’s side, has done an outstanding job of adjusting to and maturing into this new life. It’s our new normal, even though it’s anything from ordinary.
I was much less hands-on during the first several weeks home from the hospital with the second baby. ‘This is not my job, this is yours!’ I remind Ava and Jk, who have improved; thematically in parenting abilities. Almost anything Ava wants to do, I make her find sitters for. I also told Ava that dropping out of school was not an option. I often remind Ava that while she and her sister were babies, I went to and graduated from nursing school. I’m still exhausted now and then, and I think about how much easier life would be if this hadn’t occurred. All the hard work and any embarrassment or unpleasant comments we endure from outsiders are worth it when I cuddle my grandbabies or hear their adorable giggles!
Ava and I decided to tell the world about her/our experience, knowing that we would receive a lot of backlashes, but also knowing that our tale would perhaps inspire others to love and support teen moms. Nobody glorifies this life, but I believe it is beyond wrong to spew hatred and turn our backs on these young, fearful ladies when they and their unborn infants need us the most. I will never glorify or normalize teen pregnancy, but I will promote and normalize loving and supporting our young girls when they are at their most vulnerable.”
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