I was 20 years old when I had our daughter (don’t roll your eyes like I’m “one of those girls”). Even though having her at that time was unplanned, I’m glad it worked out this way.
It was a blazing summer day in June 2010 when I found out I was pregnant, and I promise I will never forget it. I will admit I had myself the biggest pity party you will ever see. Looking back I am so embarrassed, but I can laugh about it now. There’s a few reasons for my meltdown, none were because I was a totally horrible person and hated the thought of a baby.
1. The week before I found out, I had mailed my signed lease and deposit for an apartment at the college I was attending at the time. (A little FYI on lease contracts in college towns, even my death could not have gotten my family out of the responsibility of my lease!) So I could either pay off the 12 month lease or take by butt back to Troy… All I have to say is, Go Trojans!
2. I had two years left in college; therefore, no I was not working a full-time job with the income to provide for a child. I made and spent money like every other college student. This amounted to a lot of stress over the next few weeks, ahem, months. I didn’t let myself remember, “oh yeah, her daddy works a full-time job. PEOPLE SURVIVE ON LESS, CINDY.” Lesson has been learned, by the way.
3. I have this completely southern family who holds strong to their beliefs there is only one way you should do life: school, college/employment, marriage, children. Of course, they did not expect any of that to happen immediately or in a certain time frame, just in that order. It does not matter who you are or where you are from, no one wants to disappoint the people who loved them and raised them. I waited an entire month before I told my mom. It was October before I told my dad and his family, I knew it was a girl by then! No one screamed or yelled or even cried, and no one killed me. How amazing! Again, I say I can now laugh at how ridiculous I was. The reasoning for my fears was a tiny bit justified when I had a great-aunt who was very upset and a slight bit tiffed when she learned we did not plan to get married just because I was pregnant. She did, however, mail a nice check as my baby shower gift and a slightly cold letter reminding me that our family had always finished college and was happy to give suggestions on the type of career I should now choose so that I could stay home with my children. There are a few things that Southerners feel strongly about, especially the older generations, and I had found myself in the middle of one. (Just an update: When I graduated August 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree, I ran my photo and announcement in the town newspaper where my great aunt and that side of the family lives. A little childish? Eh, maybe.)
And for the record, yes I did finish college, albeit a year late with a struggling 3.05 GPA, full time job and a 2 year old, but dang it I finished. I had transferred to a local college at home after spending a semester in Troy pregnant. Those adventures will have to wait for another blog at another time.
Needless to say, I had the most amazing and beautiful daughter and she has grown into the smartest two year old. (No bias included in that statement.) Watching and helping her grow has completely changed me. I look at the world different. I see opportunities and choices in a different light. I cannot remember making a single decision within the last two and a half years that I didn’t contemplate the effect or involvement of her. Like, who am I? I will admit I had pretty selfish intentions about every decision I made until she was born. I’ve never felt more joy in my life than when I look in her face and her eyes glow about whatever subject she is obsessed with at the moment. Last night she jumped up and down in the kitchen because she saw the pan of chicken fingers and french fries cooking in the oven. (No, I do not need lessons on healthy food for my child. Thanks, though.) If you have never cooked your toddler chicken fingers and french fries from a bag in your freezer, well shame on you because I just won Mother of the Year for it while standing in my kitchen.
I know that I am constantly teaching and influencing her, but she is also teaching me. Every day I learn patience, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, the list could go on. I have never heard a child say “thank you” as much as my daughter does. She even says thank you for a happy meal toy out of the bag! I am forever thankful for her beautiful light in my life. She inspires me to continue on when I face a struggle. Her innocent heart blesses me every time she opens her mouth and asks a question.
I took her to church with a friend of mine who’s daughter is the same age. That afternoon, while getting ready for nap time I heard her in the next room singing, “Jesus loves me this my know. For the Bible tells me so.” I had tears in my eyes. From one visit in Sunday School class, she could sing the song. A week later we were sitting at a red light and I look back at her, she has her hands together and her head bowed saying, “Thank you for my Daddy. Thank you for my Mommy. Thank you for my friends. Thank you for my food. Amen.” I’ve never had my heart more touched than in that moment sitting in traffic. She is making me into a better person and she does not even realize it. When I lie down tonight, I will make sure that I say a special thank you for the child who saved me from my ugly, selfish self.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dainty Way Photography