I found out that I was pregnant when I was 18. I was in my senior year of high school and just turning 19 when those two red lines showed up on my home pregnancy test. In that moment, my hopes and dreams for the future came crashing down around me. It was as if those red lines put a slash through my to-do list in life.
My future with the Marines? Gone. College? Gone. That “I’m never getting married and having kids” plan? Gone. My perky, 18 year old boobs and flat stomach? Gone.
After I recovered from the initial shock, something else happened. I felt ashamed.
My father’s side of the family were very conservative Southerners. Not exactly holy-rollers, but pretty damn close. There was no public teen pregnancy. There was rarely, if ever, divorce. Illegitimate children? Unheard of. The news that I was pregnant with no intention of marrying the baby’s father was not going to go over well.
My father cried. It was only the second time I’d seen him cry – the first time being when my great-grandmother died. I broke up with my boyfriend. He was a horrible person, a drug addict, a liar, a cheater…there was no way I was going to marry him. I was terrified of what my grandparents would think, of the way my grandmother would look at me when she found out.
You see, my grandparents got married on their first date – because my grandmother wouldn’t “fool around” until she was married. When she told my grandfather this at the end of their first date, he backed the car out of the driveway and drove two states over, making a beeline for the Georgia state line, where there was no waiting period for a marriage license. After obtaining the marriage license, he promptly found a preacher’s house and sat on his doorstep until he woke up that morning and married them on the spot. True story. (They’re still together, 50+ years later, in case you were wondering. They are totally old school!)
Things with the rest of the family went better than expected. My grandparents disliked my boyfriend so much that they saw me as a victim to his charms. They were disappointed, but they accepted me and only once has my grandfather ever made a disparaging remark about the whole ordeal.
My pregnancy was difficult. My years as a single mother were incredibly desperate. While I was spending my days working 9-5 and my evenings at home with my daughter, my peers were away at college, partying, sowing their wild oats, slowly growing up and facing the real world.
I had already done that. I grew up in about 3 minutes – those 3 minutes it took me to register that those red lines meant that I was pregnant, back when I was 18.
I see those same old friends in pictures on Facebook, pregnant or toting their toddler kids on their hips…I see them complain about babysitters, diaper rash and day care bills. My daughter? She’s 13. She may cost me a fortune in trips to the mall, but she’s pretty self-sufficient.
While I was 21 and sitting at home without a babysitter for my most exciting birthday, my friends were throwing outrageous parties. Now? They’re paying out the ass for babysitters when they want a date night. Me? I tell my kid to lock the door behind me and to call me if she needs me when I want to go out with my husband.
Those two little red lines that I thought were going to ruin my life back in 1997? Nope, not at all. It was hard, but I wouldn’t change it for anything!
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This is my response to this week’s prompt from The Red Dress Club. We were asked to write about a memory we associate with the color red.