Many of my peers from high school went on to have children with the people they deemed "the one" during that period of time. While some of them lucked up, the rest of them soon discovered what so many of us already knew: staying with your high school sweetheart is as rare as a unicorn sighting.
When I first left for college, that was when my millennial peers began booming babies faster than the OGs, or at least that's what it felt like at the time given just how many of them bombarded my timeline with ultrasounds and baby bumps. It was also the first time I felt the words of disdained adults before my time branded into my young mind, "I'm not mad at you. I'm just disappointed."
Their naivety baffled me.
You see, they had the babies but I had the firsthand insight. I had been their baby, and I was wary of building a life with someone you tagged your high school sweetheart upon witnessing what happens when two people mature in different ways. At different paces.
This was my parents who had me while my mother was 17 and my father was 21.
While their struggles are heartfelt, I also felt the impact of them choosing to bring me into this world based on temporary feelings of lasting love, poor judgement, and their individual searches for worth and esteem.
For my mom, and so many other teen moms, having me meant securing the unconditional love that was never felt and in some cases love they truly never had during their childhood. She did this despite what I'm certain was feelings of uncertainty in a subpar relationship.
Because of this, I was fated to a tumultuous world and stuck in between, as the byproduct of my parents' poor choices. This was the fate I saw for many of my high school friends who deemed their highschool sweethearts worthy of 18 years...minimally. Sadly, this truly was the result of many of those love-lust encounters yielding in children.
I wouldn't dare make this out to be some type of lip service for any and everyone who dares to have children before their prime and full development -- cognitively and otherwise. But, we've seen it all too often to ignore the dangers.
While couples end their relationship and part ways, how do you part ways with the shitty parent you had the misfortune of being dumped with? You don't because you can't.
In a nutshell, my father is the worst case scenario when it comes to toxic masculinity. I grew up watching him abuse the women in his life, refer to the mother of his children as b*tches both directly and indirectly to his children, and he's taught us young to keep our mouths shut about his extramarital affairs.
You may shrug this off, I did the same. I mean I had basic daddy issues, but no big deal. Or at least that's what I thought, up until an event in recent months allowed me to see the PTSD that I had developed as a result of my father. I woke up to a new group chat that included my father and mother. In this thread, he threatened my mother -- referring to her as every b*tch in the book. With immediate anxiety kicking in, an anxiety that sent me into hyperventilation, I was reminded of the fear that I felt all those years ago and the panic I spun into with every weekend spent with my father.
This is what I've dealt with all of my life, and I'm sure you can imagine all of the ways this has affected me as a woman, and even more so, as a person.
My mom is not without fault, not in her complicitness of creating me with a less than acceptable father figure in countless ways, and certainly not in her own toxicity that I've inherited. And I won't go into a victim blaming spiral saying she should've noticed the signs, but I will stress that at any given age, it's imperative to engage in sex with caution.
Every case is not as extreme and conversely, it would be naive of me if I didn't acknowledge that carefully selecting a co-parent for your child is easier said than done. After all, we're talking affairs of the heart here. Nonetheless, it's a responsibility that you have the minute you deem yourself responsible enough to have sex.
Ensure that your child is set up with a parent who they can be proud of; a parent who instills them with the type of love that sets the bar for their relationships to come and the one with themselves.
Although this is something to consider at any age, it seems more likely that, with personalities and brains still developing, this is more likely amongst young folks looking to defy the odds.
But let my hurt, disappointment, and trauma serve as a lifelong cautionary tale that our decisions to recklessly choose love can have consequences. Be careful of who you decide to make a baby with because while it will impact you, the damage done to the children is irreparable.
Never forget, broken people break people.
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