Thursday, October 22, 2009

Too Soon Grown

I just watched a young woman walk from our building to the parking lot. She had a baby carrier that looked bigger than she is, a huge diaper bag slung over her shoulder and a second child, who appeared to be about two years old, walking with her. I could tell she was struggling to carry the baby and keep hold of the 2-year old.

I don't know if she is a resident with our transitional living program or if she is someone who came seeking help. What I do know is that she is definitely under 20 years of age, with a baby and a 2-year old in tow. I just can't even imagine. I see it every day, and yet I never get used to seeing young girls with babies and toddlers.....their adolescent years replaced by all too adult responsibility and burden.

When I ask the girls how being a teenage mother has changed their lives, they respond that they have had to grow up fast, that having a baby has made them more responsible, more caring. But when I ask them if they have regrets, each one cites getting pregnant as their biggest regret. They are quick to add that they wouldn't give up their child for anything, but that getting pregnant irrevocably changed everything--for a very long time.

I won't quote all the negative stats about teen pregnancy--most of the girls who come to Promise House defy them anyway and do very well. But that is with ALOT of help, support, education, mentoring, child care, and anything else they need to become good mothers. Without this help, young mothers have huge challenges ahead of them.

Hopefully, the young mother I saw just now will defy the odds and the stats. Hopefully, she will get the help she needs from us and become an incredible mother to her children. And hopefully, she won't give up the dreams she had before she got pregnant.

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