My oldest daughter is my mini me, so like me in all ways except in one, she became a mother at 15 years old. I had her at age 25 and even then I felt unsure of myself and very nervous thinking about taking care of someone else. At 15 years old I was no way able to take on what she did. And not only was she taking on a big change in her life, so was I. I was going to be Parenting A Child Who Is A Parent.
My daughter was Daddy’s girl until she was about 11. Then as she was going through puberty she started gravitating towards me. We had a great relationship, but the one big mistake I made was trying to be more her friend then her Mother.
My Mother and I had a very difficult relationship that didn’t get better until I was about 18; I think I was overcompensating for that situation with my Daughter. My Mom did it right, not my friend, my Mom who ticked me off, had rules I didn’t agree with, was hard on me and didn’t care if I liked it or not. It was frustrating and I don’t even know how many times I told her I hated her. The kicker, it helped mold me into a better person. I didn’t understand that until I was older and I have apologized to her many times for the way I acted to her. Even though I learned some great lessons from that experience I still swore I wasn’t going to be that hard on my children. So, the epic fail, being more of a friend.
My Daughter and I talked about anything and everything. The biggest issue came when she got into boys around age 12 and by age 13 she had her first really serious boyfriend. I let her spend every minute of every day possible with him, took them out places and was just too easy on her. When she entered High School she met a guy who set off all of my “mom alarms”. There was just something about him that made me nervous. He was a year older; he had a driver’s license and a lot of freedom. I tried keeping her from seeing him, but that backfired.
And it happened, she fell head over heels in love with him and wouldn’t you know it, she got pregnant. It was a month after her 15th birthday when I found out. Do you ever have that feeling that you know something is going to happen long before it happens? Somewhere in the back of my mind since she was very young I had already seen this playing out in my mind. Physic abilities? I doubt it. Mother’s intuition? Maybe. So, when she told me she was pregnant it really didn’t surprise me. I handled it much better than I ever thought possible. But what can you really do at that point? She was already pregnant and had already decided she wanted to keep her baby. Her father’s answer was that she should terminate her pregnancy. That was the start of downfall in their relationship. (That is another topic) She got so mad at him for that suggestion. She may have been 15 and still a minor, but I was not about to force my daughter through a termination when it was something I wouldn’t do myself. Luckily, I never had to make a decision like that. So the choices that were left were adoption or keeping her baby. If she felt she wanted to put the baby up for adoption, I would have adopted it. There was no way I would have let that baby go. I was 40 at the time, so still young enough to have a baby around myself. My answer to her was I would be there to help her, but this was her child and her responsibility.
She had a very complicated pregnancy. It was attributed to her young age and a body that just wasn’t ready to handle the strain of pregnancy. At about 20 weeks she was put on complete bedrest. This was around Thanksgiving of her sophomore year. She missed the rest of the school year. She had weekly trips to the Doctor and to a High Risk Doctor, as well as, regular ultrasounds and monitoring in the labor and delivery unit at the hospital. At 38 weeks she delivered a healthy baby girl. We agreed to have her boyfriend move in with us so that they could raise the baby together. We had a very tiny house and this made the family dynamic extremely difficult. But the hardest part was parenting my daughter who was now a parent herself. The normal feeling for someone with that level responsibility would suggest that she should be in more control over her own life, but she was just 15. There were still rules and expectations. She and her boyfriend would have loved to have moved out and lived on their own, but I would not have been supportive of that. They were just too young. He went back to school and finished out the school year. He picked up a part-time job and for a while things were ok. The stress level rose as she became defiant to the house rules as did her boyfriend, how do you parent your own child who is a parent, let alone “parent” a child who is not your own, but living in your house? My daughter did not ask for much in caring for her daughter. I never woke up in the middle of the night, I babysat her once in her first 6months of life and I just got to enjoy being a grandparent and snuggle and kiss the little bundle of joy. By 6 months after the baby’s birth, my daughter and her boyfriend succumbed to the stress and pressure of young parenthood and broke up. They agreed split time with baby going back and forth, which was extremely devastating to my daughter.
She returned to school that fall so she was essentially a single parent with homework. I did not push her to get a job because I felt she had enough on her plate, but she decided to take a course through the schools vocational department that would train her to be a CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) she would get a valid certification that would then allow her to work in this field. After doing rotations at several assisted living facilities and the local hospital she was offered a job at one of the facilities. She was now able to provide an income for her daughter. We did watch the baby while she worked and she had daycare during the day when she was in school, but that was all we did for her. She did all the feeding, changing, bathing and other baby care needed. She defied the stereotype of teenage moms that never graduate and end up struggling. She graduated on time with her class, with her CNA certificate and a job already. I have to say I don’t think I could have done it and I am so proud of all she accomplished.
As my granddaughter grew and became more mobile first crawling and then walking it was hard not to parent over my daughter. I was perfectly able to have had a baby of that age myself and because my own daughter was so young it almost felt at times like her baby was my baby. I tried very hard not to tell her what to do in respect to raising her daughter. I did offer advice and support when I could. I tried to respect the fact that my daughter wanted to be independent but I did have to enforce the “as long as you live in my house, you will follow my rules” rule. There were times when we would argue and fight over that. Of course she would say she couldn’t wait until she could move out.
Days before my daughters 18th birthday her father and I were divorced. She moved in with me and spent little time with her Dad. It gave her a little more independence than what she had before and now at 18 I agreed that it was time that I loosen the reigns, but it was still a situation of her living under my roof “my rules”. Our relationship improved with less push back from both of us. She certainly proved she could take care of herself and her daughter. When I eventually moved out to move in with my new husband she stayed in my apartment for another 10 months until the lease ran out. She finally got to be her own person.
She continues to split time with her daughter’s father and my sweet grandbaby will be turning 6 this Saturday. She met a wonderful young man who she married this past fall after 3 years of dating. She has had two more pregnancies, one resulting in a fetal demise at 19 weeks. That was an extremely difficult time for them and they grieve the loss of their little girl daily. The second pregnancy resulted in my now 2 year old granddaughter. Her husband is supportive of her being a stay-at-home Mom and takes great care of all of our girls. We couldn’t be happier. So at 21 she is the mother of a 2 and 6 year old. She swears she is the youngest mother in her daughters Kindergarten class. She certainly gets looks when people realize she is only 21, but she doesn’t let that get to her.
My daughter may be 21, but I still see my little girl. I have had to move on to a new type of relationship with her, one where I offer my advice or opinions but know that she is going to take it or leave it. She is an adult and the choice is her own. Overall, she has done very well for herself and grows more every day. I am so proud of the woman and mother she is.
We survived teen pregnancy, and I survived Parenting a Child who is a Parent. I certainly didn’t plan to be a grandmother at 40, but the bonus is that I will hopefully get to enjoy many years with my grandchildren and potentially be able to enjoy great-grandchildren. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. It showed me that my daughter is strong, determined and extremely capable and it showed me that I am too. My Blended Life makes me a very Happy Wife and Grandmother.
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