No, this is not what I aspire to be...

I’ve recently become annoyed with the state of the media these days, namely, in print. Aside from catching the occasional episode of Anthony Bourdain or Seinfeld, I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it seems like every time I’m waiting in the grocery line, scanning the magazine covers, there’s always something about that stupid, waste of a TV show “16 and Pregnant”.

Now I’ve never seen one episode, and I purposely neglect to. The show follows various teen moms, some with their man and some without, and documents their daily lives, from the baby, to the relationship drama some have, to the daily struggles of juggling a baby and academics. Now I can’t help but think, why would someone care about some young girl, not even graduated from high school yet, and watch her grapple through life trying to be some responsible adult? It truly amazes me that magazines like OK!, Life & Style, and US would fill their publications up with such nonsense. And it’s not only in the magazines, it’s everywhere. In the mall, in the grocery store, at theme parks. I see these young girls toting around their babies like they’re some prize winning achievement of life. Newsflash girls: It’s not hot, and it’s definitely not admirable to be a young mom with no money, no education and in more than half the cases, without a man.

I’m 26 years old and I have no desire to procreate anytime soon. Bring on the contraception! I’m unlike many of the people I graduated with, many of whom are now married and have become parents. I’m in no hurry to have a child; there’s too many things I want to experience in life, too much territory begging to be chartered, and a lot of growing room to do when it comes to my career choice and educational goals. I’m all for procreating with someone you’re in love with, in a solid relationship with and whom has a stable financial outlook. But since when did it become something intriguing to be young, penniless, pregnant and alone? And the bigger question: why all the media attention to it?

I’ve never been one of those women who meticulously plan out their life, in terms of some unrealistic chronological timeline. You know the ones…

“I wanna get married around 21,22…”

“By 25 I want to have two kids. A boy and a girl.”

“By 30 I want to have at least one more.”

And not to forget that naive adage, “We’ll be together forever.” Ugh…

I’m not putting down someone’s individual dreams and goals. I’m just being realistic. I often find that the people who conjure up these big, grand ideas of how they want their life to fall into place, are almost always let down. Why? Well, because it’s this simple…you can’t outline your life. Life happens. You have to roll with the wave, adapt to the changes, and assimilate. So what if you’re not married in your early twenties? What’s the rush? Your twenties are a time of self-discovery, of coming into your own. Enjoy it. I know I’ve grown considerably from the time I was 21 to present. And I don’t understand this rush to get pregnant. It’s a known fact that most women are fertile well into their forties. Not that I want to wait that long to have a child, but it’s just a reminder. I don’t have a problem with procreation, I have a problem with women who aren’t ready for the parenting part. Sure it’s all exciting to be pregnant and get the nursery ready, but, the reality is…anyone can be pregnant. Not everyone knows just how to be a good parent. And this is part of my hang up with this whole babies having babies ordeal. When you’re in high school, even when you’re a freshman in college, you’re still developing. You’re still discovering what the world is about, what you are about, where you stand on certain issues. I’m not suggesting young mothers are incapable of being good parents, but what I mean is when you’re that young, you haven’t had enough experience to come full circle on life. You’re still learning. So my question is, do they even know what being a parent means?

When you birth a baby, that’s forever. Suddenly, your life isn’t about you anymore, it’s about that baby (or should be, anyway). As on that “16 and Pregnant” show, some of the girls are seen going out, drinking, partying, flirting with other guys other than their baby’s daddy (hate that term), desperate on the search for ones who won’t run from a girl with a baby on her hip. Okay, I’m sorry but once you give birth, it’s time to slow it down a bit. This is the sacrifice you’ve given. And although it’s totally believable that every new parent will get exhausted from time to time, primarily, your time should be given to that baby, 100%. And if these young moms aren’t ready to do that, then they’re not ready for the selflessness that’s part of becoming a mother.

Once you’re a mother, you’re not only tied to that baby for life, but also to the baby’s daddy (hate that term) or mama. And while it’s a warm, fuzzy notion to assume that everybody will be happily ever after, reality suggests it doesn’t always work out that way. I don’t understand the idea of hurrying up and marrying when you’re pregnant. I think that’s the worst thing you could do.

Although I’m not promoting having a child out of wedlock, if it’s a known fact that your relationship is rocky, do you really think it’s going get better with a marriage certificate? I’m all for having shared parental rights and raising a child separately if the couple is indeed not right for each other. If you get married, and in 4 years, divorce, this sets the stage for a whole other slew of obligations: child support, spousal support, divorce costs. No bueno.

Many unwed young mothers lack health insurance, and even if some carry insurance, some plans don’t cover labor & delivery. And what about opening savings accounts for your child, or investing in some savings bonds for your child? If you already don’t have any money how are you to provide for a better future for them? So not only are you pregnant, but you’re also setting yourself up for a lifetime of struggle, starting with the huge medical bills. Who wants that? Surely not me.

An acquaintance of mine, who we’ll refer to as B., recently found out she’s expecting. She’s 21, has no college under her belt, but makes decent money as a dental assistant. She has no car, relies on her man to chaffeur her around town. And let’s just say, the time they spend together is somewhat dull. I rarely see the two go out and do anything, no day trips, no fun in the sun, no gallivanting around, doing ‘couple’ things. Sometimes I wondered if she purposely became pregnant to pull him in closer. They’d rather sit and waste away in front of the TV. Bizarre. Anyway, her other friends are all excited for her pregnancy, but I find myself being the lone, unexcited one. It’s not that I’m jealous or anything of the sort, but rather, I guess I look at it from a more logical point of view. What I see is this: a young girl, totally unaware of the world, somewhat sheltered of what else is out there. A girl who has no money, no health insurance, and is totally and completely dependent upon her man. This worries me…while everyone else is talking baby clothes, nursery items, and possible name choices, I sit back and ponder how fragile a situation this is. If I were in her shoes, I’d be freaking out. I surely wouldn’t be flashing my WIC card around. She applied for Medicaid and is now compiling a huge paper mountain of bills from her OB/GYN visits, none of which she can pay for. So this leaves me wondering, does she contemplate the volatility of her situation? Or was I the only one thinking about all this logically?  I just couldn’t get all giddy about her pregnancy because there were so many things stacked up against her. All I could think of was how much she didn’t need this pregnancy. And this is an ongoing theme with so many young moms out there. Regardless of the reason, so many bring babies into the world when they’re not ready-emotionally, financially, etc. All I could think was, if you’re having trouble affording yourself, how the hell are you going to afford a child? It’s just my opinion that one should procreate when they’re at a point in their life where they’ve done enough self-discovery to know who they are, to have a moral compass, and, to some degree, hold a stable career. True, even the busiest career minded people aren’t always ready for a baby, but surely a stable financial situation makes the transition from single to parent a whole lot smoother.

This has always been an issue I could go for hours and hours about, I think my recent sightings of young 17, 18, 19, 20 somethings strolling around with their babies made the issue creep back into my head… this ends my rant, applause for contraception and some planning!

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