Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Outside the Radar

Outside the Radar by dancing_in_the_nude

My name isn’t important, it’s something ethnic, something foreign. Something filled with delicate L’s and rolling R’s, it suits me. I am brown like cinnamon, warm and passionate, and I blend in well in my warm and passionate neighborhood. The streets here aren’t too well cared for, and the houses all need paint. The dogs are chained up, and in the July heat the children fill the streets with their bikes, balls, and games.

Two of those children are my boys. They are warm and dark as me, with thick black hair, and fat little faces. They look like their friends, and I look like their friend’s mothers. Not one woman who watches silently from behind a screen door is over 25. We are an army of teen moms.

When I got pregnant at 14, no one told me “How much I was throwing away.” No one tried to talk me out of carrying my pregnancy to term. Of bringing another into the world. No one talked to me about missing out on college, on high school even. The doctor didn’t bat a lash at me when he came in. He was very business like.

My teachers didn’t raise their eyebrows at the freshmen in maternity gear, my mother moaned a little but her complaints were soon lost in her joy at becoming a grandmother. My grandmother, likewise. Even my great grandmother, who at seventy three still knit my son a blanket, smiled and nodded in her quiet way, and never said a negative word.

I thought I had the most understanding people in the world around me. These people who would support me, and understood why I wasn’t going to abort this time, and why I was willing to share my twin bed with an infant. I thought wrong.

When I take my sons into the world, the mall, the zoo, filled with rich, white people, I don’t feel any more ostracized than I did going out with my own mother, or my friends. I don’t feel like people are judging me, because most of the time, the people who judge don’t see me. I am just another poor brown person, raising poor brown kids, and no one expects anything differently.

My mother didn’t expect me to go to do anything else, neither did my grandmother, or my teachers, or my doctor, or even, myself. I have been trained to accept that being a breeder is my lot in life- as was my mother. And while I see the benefit of my support, I sometimes feel shortchanged in the lack of expectation for me.

I have a friend, she is 16 and expecting her first baby in two months. She always tells me about the dirty looks she gets. She tells me about the fights her mom and she have. She complains to me about the snide look the doctor gave her, and the lectures her teacher gave her. And then, she pulls her blond hair up into a pony tail, and tells me how lucky I have it.