I don’t know where to start.
I haven’t written about this because it’s not my story. It’s not my life. It’s not my business. But I can’t stop thinking about it.
I work with a great group of people. I’ve become good friends with some of my co-workers. One of them – let’s call her Sally – is a few years younger than me, a single mom of four. We both have 6-year-olds and share stories about them. Her other kids are older – three teenage girls.
About 5 weeks ago, we learned that the oldest, who’s 17, is pregnant. My friend, who is 37, is about to become a grandmother.
Holy frigging crap dot com.
We then learned that not only was Sally’s daughter pregnant, she estimated she was about 6 months along. She’d been hiding it from her mom, who (in her defense) works long hours to put food and cell phones on the table for her four kids.
The 17-year-old has had no prenatal care whatsoever. At her first prenatal appointment, it turned out that she was 7 months pregnant and the baby is due in the first week of June. Needless to say, Sally is crushed. She is already struggling to make ends meet. Her daughter is in denial that this even happening, and doesn’t seem to have a clue or a plan as to how she is going to care for the baby. The parents of the baby’s father say they don’t want the kids to get married just because of the baby, they don’t want their son to drop out of school, and they’ll help pay for whatever the baby needs. In theory, this is great. In reality, I feel like they’re letting him off the hook for taking care of his baby – and who knows if they’ll actually come through with any money consistently.
Pretty much every day, Sally has more bad news about this whole situation. She comes into my office and tells me the latest (which I won't share here) and asks me what she should do. Fortunately, we work in social services, so all the resources for a situation like this are readily at hand. But every time we talk, I can feel my stomach lining being eaten away. I don’t know how she is even walking upright.
Last night, after the kids were in bed, Sweet Dub and I were sitting on the couch watching the NBA playoffs. I guess I was staring off into space because Sweet Dub asked me what was on my mind.
“I can’t stop thinking about Sally,” I said, and told him a fraction of what she’d told me. Then I said, “I can’t help thinking about how I’m going to talk to my kids, about what my hopes and expectations are for them. I mean, I feel like she did the best she could and it wasn’t enough. I just feel so bad for her.”
If nothing else, this has led us to the latest of many talks about how we want to prepare our kids for life in general, and more specifically about how we want to talk with them when it comes to sexuality. My mom was always very frank with me and my sister, and I expect I will be the same with my two. And Sweet Dub is pretty much the master of being direct and open. We are not perfect, but we are pretty much both of the school of “better to have too much information than too little,” and of the credo, “what you don’t know CAN hurt you.”
In the meantime, our little group at work is pulling together a baby shower which will be as much about pampering Sally as about preparing for the baby.
It’s a girl.