Ten Years Later
Dear Carmen (Please read at 9pm on February 16th, 2007),
You are fifteen years old and this morning you found out you were pregnant. You saw those two pink lines in the bathroom at Fryn Pan. It’s ok that you didn’t smile or cry. It’s ok that you proceeded to eat your breakfast as if nothing happened. You had some hard conversations today. The first of many hard conversations you will have.
You did the right thing by telling Mom right away. She is not as disappointed as she seems. She will hold your hand until you are ready to fly. She will know when you are ready before you do.
And Yosi? He’ll stay. Just like he told you today. Even when things are hard. And even when you make mistakes. He’ll stay. He will teach you the art of staying. Pay attention. Follow his lead. He is a natural at loving people. He will love the baby more than he loves the breath he breathes. He will love you, too.
And for you? It’s going to take some time, but you’re going to be ok. You will mess up a lot, but you will find your footing. It will not be easy. The tears that are falling right now are the first of many more. You will cry often in the next years. Usually at night in the dark. You will cry because you’re scared of failure. You will cry because you feel like a stereotype. You will cry because you are positive that you disappointed your teachers. You will cry because your family might never look at you the same way. You will cry because your friends’ lives are now so different from yours. You will cry because you are lonely. You will cry because you know that your baby will need so much more than you have at this minute. Keep your head held high, love. It’s going to be ok.
But here’s the thing. You will wipe away your tears and you will wake up in the morning and you will face the day anyway. I want you to know that you do not need to be embarrassed. You are being brave. You will wake up and be brave every day because the baby will need you to be brave.
Do not use your ‘teen mom’ status as a crutch. Let it go. Do not make it your platform. Do not use it as an excuse. Do not attach meaning to the label. Let it be true and nothing else.
You will work hard. It doesn’t matter that you do not finish high school. Do not agonize so much over this choice. It will be to your benefit. Do not be embarrassed about this. College awaits you and will change you in ways you cannot yet understand.
The road will be rocky sometimes. You will falter. Do not be so hard on yourself, because to fall means you are trying. You and Yosi will make it through. Even when it feels impossible, you will continue to choose love. He will show you how. You will lean on each other when you eat eggs for the fourteenth supper in a row, promising one another that it won’t always be like this. And it won’t always be like this. Not only will things get easier, you will become better at weathering the storms.
As for the baby? He’s going to be perfect. He’ll be born early on an October Saturday. The sun will come up as you hold him in your arms and this is the closest to God you’ll ever be. Don’t worry, you’ll recognize the magnificence and you will be changed forever. In that moment, you will become a mother, and you will never again doubt your purpose on this earth. You will sing him Rod Stewart songs and he will fit perfectly in the crook of your arm. He still does.
Hold your baby close. He’s going to challenge you; he will demand the best of you. He will require so much more than you think you have to give. Do not panic. You have it. He will be your greatest teacher if you can slow down, and calm down, enough to let him. He will change the way you see the world and the people in it. It feels counter intuitive to trust yourself, but you must learn to do this. White knuckling parenthood is not fun. Do not forget to have a good time.
I know the fear feels crushing on your shoulders. Just keep moving. Keep putting one foot in front of the other; you will forge your own path and it will be beautiful. The tears will still fall sometimes, but they’ll be different.
You will cry when you and Yosi buy your home. You will cry when you walk through the halls of your university. You will cry when you welcome your next baby, and when you welcome your final baby. You will cry when Christian’s third-grade teacher tells you, “You’ve done something right. He’s a bright boy with a gentle soul.” You will cry when you host all of your beautiful friends and family in your cozy living room to celebrate family events. You will cry when Christian asks questions about this world that you cannot answer. You will wipe your tears, and you will wipe his. And you will say, “Keep your head held high, love. It’s going to be ok.”
And it will be ok.