With lots of understanding and support.
My parents have been great. I help pay for some of Tyler's stuff, but basically, they're supporting both of us. My mom babysits when I'm at work. She's terrific with him, almost too good. Some nights, I'll put him down, and he'll fuss nonstop. I'll try so hard to get him to stop crying -- and then Mom comes along and quiets him down in half a second. I have to admit it: That makes me feel bad. The whole situation has been harder for my dad. He wasn't planning on living with a baby again, and he gets annoyed sometimes. But he's really wonderful about everything and completely supportive in every way.
I don't have much of a social life. I can't relate to my old friends anymore: the things they talk about, the clothes they wear, the parties. I still have my Eminem posters in my room, but instead of staying up late listening to music or talking on the phone, I go to bed at 8:30 so I can get up at 6 a.m. with Tyler.
I plan to go back to school and will probably take some classes at the community college someday. But right now, Tyler is my life. I'm crazy about him. At 15 months, he's starting to talk, and he knows so many words. He says "Mama," "Mamaw" (that's what he calls my mom), "bye-bye," "hi," and "no-Ty" (for "no, Tyler" when he does something wrong).
He can wave bye-bye, clap his hands, and point at what he wants. He's starting to pick out his clothes by opening the drawer and pulling out a shirt. He knows how to Velcro his shoes too! I'm just so proud of him. I love buying him stuff: I get a 25 percent discount from the toy store I work in. Woo hoo!
Tyler's a good little boy most of the time, but like any toddler, he has his moments. When he cries in public, I really cringe, because I feel under a lot of pressure to be a perfect mom. If he acts up, or if he falls over and bumps his head, I always think people are looking at me as if to say, "It's because you're a teenager."
In truth, though, I think I'm a great mom, and I know that my son is crazy about me. I definitely don't want to promote teen pregnancy; believe me, it's not easy at all. But I truly believe that having Tyler has made me into a better person. And I'd like the world to know that teenage moms can be every bit as caring, loving, and perfect or imperfect as any other mother. We're parents too, and we're just like other parents -- only a little bit younger and with a little bit more to learn.
Copyright © 2004 Debra Immergut. Reprinted with permission of Parents magazine February 2004 issue.