The Monster Teen was born when I myself was nothing more than a teenager. I was a geek screwed up in the head, learning to be tough (and ghetto) to act out against the horrible separation/divorce that my parents dragged me into the middle of. I’ve touched on my parent’s separation a lot, I know, but only because so much of that helped shape me to who I am today. Let’s move on.
I never wanted kids. When I was a child, I never played house where I was the housewife. When people tried to get me to play that role, I’d argue or asked to be the husband or child. When playing alone, I was always someone with an awesome career. Maybe a teacher, and actress, a spoken word performer. Whatever it was, there were no children involved. I think in the back of my mind I always believed that when a woman had a child, her life ended.
But I did get pregnant with the Monster Teen. My father, who pretty much had chosen career and friends over his family had long since moved a couple of states away. When he found out, he called me to say that I was a whore, a slut, who might as well have 4 more kids and get on welfare, because I was NEVER going to make anything out of myself.
Luckily for Baby Monster Teen and I, even though I am pro-choice, I couldn’t let the growing creature I carried be killed. To me, it wasn’t fair to snuff out his life just because I didn’t protect myself from pregnancy. So I let the baby monster be born. And he changed my life for the better. I know that I would’ve grown to be a much more selfish and self involved person if I hadn’t had him to raise. But then, fast forward 4 years, and I found myself again at another crossroads.
While young/dumb/in deep depression and on my first tour in the military overseas, I made the same mistake again. Unprotected smexy times, because I forgot to refill my birth control. I swear I knew the moment it was done that I was pregnant again. And sure enough I was right.
I ranted and railed at myself. I prayed to God to change things, to let it be all in my head, to erase what was growing inside of me. I just could NOT do this again. There was not enough love in me to love another child. I knew instinctively that this was a girl child, and all I could think was that my personality was not caring enough to take care of such a soft sensitive creature (no matter that I was girl too). I saw my dreams crashing down. To be bogged down with the care of not just one child, but TWO. That through my faults I was becoming exactly what my father suggested! A whore no better than those aunts and cousins that sat with their legs open, asking for a handout.
I couldn’t do it, but again, I couldn’t destroy the life. And that is where my best friend came in.
We’ll call her Florida for these purposes. I’d met Florida only about a week after arriving to my base overseas. She was around the same age as me, new to the military, and geeky in her own way. Although we were of a similar age, her maturity level was higher than mine at the time (see last time’s post about trying to fit in) and she kind of took me in like a little sister. Coming from being the oldest and having a lot of responsibility in my immediate family, this was a breath of fresh air. Especially as I was going through a deep bout of depression with missing my son, missing home, and then, becoming pregnant again.
I went to her, in a borderline hysterical state of what to do about this pregnancy. And she had an answer that even today shocks me with the blessing it was for all those involved. You see, even though both Florida and I were baby 20 somethings, she wanted children. She was the exact opposite of me. She was proud to play the mamma when playing house. She wanted to have a career yes, but even that was to teach to young children. She wanted children right away, and the more the merrier. Her parents had her very late in life, so she wanted to have grandchildren before they passed away. But she wasn’t married. And she didn’t want to just get pregnant by a random person. And here I come with an answer to HER dilemma.
So that day, I sat there telling her my problem. That the dude had gone crazy, trying to force me to have an abortion.
“I can’t get an abortion, but I don’t, I can’t raise another child!”
She came to a decision.
“Let me adopt the baby.”
I laughed at her that day, shocked out of my depression. I was like yeah right, She could raise the baby, and since we were best friends I would get to know the child, and be in her life even though I couldn’t raise her myself.
“Exactly,” said Florida. She was serious. And I felt my heart lurch with so many emotions. Somehow, this blessing fell upon me and the Girl not yet born. We planned it out, right then and there, though I still didn’t really believe. We were leaving for our next assignments in a few months, and I would continue the pregnancy. When I got close, I would take leave and come to her base, so that she would see her child being born. She would raise her with the knowledge that I was her birth mother, that she had an older brother, that she was blessed with double the family of a normal child. That I would be her Godmother. We talked of how, if one day she wanted to come to me and stay with me, we would allow it to happen. That we would be open and honest with her and each other. A great plan that we both agreed on and thought was best.
Everyone else though, were against it.
I didn’t tell my mother I was pregnant until I was about 7 months pregnant, and already stationed back stateside in the Midwest Even when I had first come back to the states I hid it, spending time with my son and family without letting them know the secret plan. When I told her, lord, she was so angry. She begged me to keep the child, to let her stay with her grandmother until I was ready to raise her myself. Hadn’t she taken my son while I was in my first enlistment, going through basic training, school and then overseas for a year?!
She didn’t understand. I saw my gut instinct future. That I did not have the same connection as I did with little MT. That if I kept her, there would be that underlying resentment of being saddled with a child I didn’t want. Why do that to a child when there was someone ready and willing to love her with all of their being as a mother should?
We argued right through the Girl’s birth and a year or so afterward. Before she was born, she’d told others in the family about my decision, and all of them had harsh judgment for me. My aunt and uncle on one side of the family who were childless, why didn’t I think of them? My Aunt on the other side of my family, who’d been trying for a child, why didn’t I think of her? My evil cousin and her mother spread rumors that Florida had brainwashed me and was my lover, that had to be why I was giving away my child. My command at my new unit tried to force me to keep the baby, saying that they would allow me to take my son back early, before I re-enlisted. I could move out of the barracks if I said I planned to keep the child.
And it wasn’t just on my side. Florida had friends and family members saying that I was going to change my mind, or take the girl away once they’d had a couple of years together. That I had to want something else out of the deal.
But the day came to give birth. And Florida was right there, the first to hold her newborn. I signed the papers for adoption right then and there. And even when my mother called a couple of hours later saying that she would NEVER let me have my son back until I took back custody of the Girl, well even that conversation (that made me have a screaming incoherent anxiety attack) did not change my mind or heart on the choice (My mother apologized for her outrageous threats after I threatened for her to NEVER meet her other grandchild, and my mother and I repaired our relationship over the next couple of years). There was no guilt. No feeling in my heart that I had done wrong. I loved the girl unconditionally, but she was not my child. That mother/daughter connection forged itself between Florida and the Girl as soon as they touched.
And so years past. The Girl gets older. And at 10 she starts to asks questions. She is trying to find her place in the world. Is her family her family? Is her mother her mother? Do the boys Florida had later on after she married count on the same level as brothers like my son? I knew the day would come, but I thought I had more years. She asks about her biological sperm donor. I tell her his name and wait for more. Is she going to ask why she’s never met him? Do I tell her I cut off all contact when he threatened my life, demanding that I have an abortion or give him the child? That he got drunk and appeared in my room somehow while I was sleeping, threatening me until I had some male friends threaten HIS life? Do I tell her it came down to letting him believe that the Girl might not be his, letting him believe what he’d already accused me of, sleeping around on him while we were dating, just to keep him from stalking and harassing me?
One day I will have to tell this to the gentle soul that looks like the spitting image of me. She may grow to hate me for the things I did, the decisions I made. She looks up to me now as like a cool aunt kind of person, a person she wants to emulate. And it hurts my now older and humbler heart. Even after the years have passed I still believe I did the right thing. I gave her what I could. And hopefully, as she grows, and ask more questions, and understands, and gains deeper knowledge on life, love and the universe… Maybe then, she’ll still look at my heart and soul, and understand.