Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Growing Up by Nina Packebush

Growing Up
by Nina Packebush

My baby is about to turn 15. I can't believe it. I am excited, proud,scared and in awe. For his birthday I plan to give him his life story. I have been sorting through the thousands of photos taken since his birth. I have bought the acid free, large blank journal. I plan to arrange the photos and include stories detailing the events in his life.

The first photo is of me in the delivery room, eighteen, shy, obedient and quiet (boy have I changed). I will write about how they assigned me a social worker that tried to talk me into giving him up for adoption. I will write about how they would talk to his grandma and my aunt instead of to me. I will write about how frightening it was to be giving birth at eighteen, about my grand plans, about how incredibly in love I was with him from the moment I saw him. I will tell him about how I was mistreated and dismissed as a mama, but how I tried to be the best mama imaginable because that is what he deserved.

The next picture is of his dad holding him when he was three days old. Dad has large skulls dangling from his ear, black eye shadow and a spandex shirt (boy, has he changed). He looks scared and proud. He had dropped in for a few
minutes to visit between work and that evening's party.

Here is Jason at two with a nebulizer strapped to his face, struggling to breath against the harsh grasp of asthma. I will write about how none of the doctors believed me when I tried to tell them that something was wrong. I will write about how they ignored me because of my age and how it took us two
years, of me holding him upright each night so he could sleep without choking, before they listened. Before anyone took me seriously as a mom. I will write about how they said "It must be tough to try to take care of a baby at your age. You should get out more, quit focusing on him so much. He is perfectly healthy."

Here he is at three all dressed up and looking totally confused as his dad and I get married at the Court House. I will write about how we decided to get married because I was pregnant again and needed the insurance. I will write about how I cried the night before and how we honeymooned for 3 days on
the coast. Here he is at three holding his baby sister seconds after she is born, looking scared and proud, much like his dad looked at eighteen, holding him.

This one is of him at my mom's, at 4, playing with the neighbor boy. I will tell him about how we had to move in with grandma for a year to keep from losing everything we owned and to avoid having our house repossessed. I will write about how this was one of the worst times of my life.

Here he is at 5, back at our house, playing with the neighbor girl, just before her dad came over to tell us that Jason was doomed to become a sexual predator. According to this man, because we were so young, because we let
our son hang out with the lesbian woman next door, because we let him play naked in the back yard and because he liked to pee off our deck he was doomed to prey on children for his sexual gratification. I will write about the absolute blind, murderous hatred I felt for that neighbor from that day on. I will write about how I told him off, about how I called his wife to tell
her off and about how my friend came over just to go over and tell them to FUCK OFF.

This one is of Jason at age 6 looking like a zombie. I will write about how all the "professionals" told us that if we didn't put him on Ritalin he would end up in prison. I will write about how they continually noted the fact that we had him at eighteen in his records. I will write about how much we fought it but that we were afraid, overwhelmed and really believed that the
"professionals" knew best. I will write about how the continued reference tothe negative impact our age had on his development caused me to loose all confidence in myself. I will write about how we finally pulled him out of school, changed our diet and, three years later, and tossed the drugs. I will tell him that in spite of the severe dyslexia, and supposed ADHD, we never doubted that he would go far.

Here is Jason at 11 leaning against the wall of the birthing suite as his second sister is born. Here is another of him holding her when she is minutes old, looking proud and confident. Here is one of him changing her diaper.This one shows him rocking her to sleep. I will write about what a fabulous big brother he was from day one.

And here he is at almost 15 with his latest funky haircut. I will write about how proud we are of him. I will write about how artistic, creative, funny, moody and beautiful he is. I will write about how I still love him in that incredible, indescribable way that I did when he was first put into my arms on the sunny June day, when I was eighteen, and he was born.

I will write the truth of his life even though some of it is painful and sad.I will include the good with the bad, the wondrous and beautiful with the tears and the shit. I will do this because all of these things have madehim who he is today. I will do this because all of these things have made his mother who she is today.

Nina Packebush lives with her three children and husband in Washington state. She is the editor of the Edgy-catin' Mama, a brutally honest zine on homeschooling. She can be reached at