Thursday, July 19, 2012

Old Fashioned......

This post is destined to tick some people off. But after careful consideration of the four people I'm SURE of who read my blog, maybe it won't be my regular audience.

The closest "real" newspaper to us is the same one in the college town where I used to live, work, and breathe football. On Sundays they publish the baby announcements for the previous week, and sometimes I scan them. I look for former students (even though some of them are probably old enough to be grandparents by now), and sometimes I look for unusual names. This usually leads to an extended session of head-shaking at the spelling of babies' names these days, and then I'm sorry I bothered.

What really bothers me, though, is the number of babies born to single moms these days. I am dismayed by the births that are proudly published in the paper with only a mama, no daddy in sight.

I know, I know, that's terribly old-fashioned (and perhaps narrow-minded) of me. And I shouldn't make judgments without knowing all the facts. There are situations in which I would find it acceptable for a single woman to have a baby.

Most of the ones I've been acquainted with, however, are teenagers. They aren't financially or emotionally equipped to handle a baby (or two), and many, many of them aren't even with the "baby daddy" long enough for him to be present at the birth. They are still more interested in partying than settling down, and they seem to resent the fact that the baby interferes with their social lives.

I feel sort of hypocritical for even saying this. I mean, I was a single mom too, but I WAS married when I had the baby. She was planned, right down to the number of sick days I would need for maternity leave, and I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing. I was college-educated, married, had a (sort of) good job with benefits, and having a baby was TOUGH on me. Having two babies was even tougher, so I had to divorce one of them.

We had a student last year who got pregnant, and like a lot of them she brought her ultrasound pictures to school and passed them around for everyone to see. Sigh. Then she had a "miscarriage" that she later admitted in a teacher conference was actually an abortion (she spilled all those details, we surely didn't ask). She graduated and had plans to continue her education, because heaven knows a high school diploma isn't good enough these days. Then I read on that time-sucking social media site that she is pregnant again and expecting in July and "super excited!!!!!" Double sigh.

And the grandparents. I wrote once about the mom who brought her daughter in to interview for a slot at our school because she was pregnant. She wanted her daughter to come to our school until she had the baby, then the mom wanted her to go back to the traditional school so she could have a "normal senior year," complete with cheerleading. What she really wanted was a chance for her daughter to avoid the inevitable gossip long enough to earn some credits, then go back when someone else was the topic. Triple sigh.

There are stories from the other end of the spectrum, too. One of our former students (who is actually the daughter of a former friend and classmate of mine) also came to us because she was pregnant. Her boyfriend was younger than she, and she made the (to me) adult decision to put her child up for adoption. She went through an agency, met the couple, bonded with them throughout her pregnancy, and helped them decide on the name "Max." When the baby was born (and believe me, she had the normal nine-month pregnancy, long enough for these things to have been ironed out), the boy's PARENTS didn't allow him to sign the papers to let the adoption go through. THEY wanted to raise the baby. What are these people thinking? The happy ending to this story is that she kept the baby, had/has tremendous family support, has graduated from UGA, and is pursuing graduate school. And by the looks of her FB postings, she is an incredible mom. I'm afraid, though, that she is the exception.

I truly wish I could do another dissertation (did I really just SAY that?) about the teen moms just in our county. I think it would make for fascinating reading. I know it happens everywhere, but there is something strange about the culture in our county that makes me go "huh?" Wait...did I just say "something strange"? As in singular? Oops... my bad.

Maybe I'll contact my former dissertation committee chair. We could do an article together or something. It wouldn't be the all-American novel, but it would be SOMETHING.

Jumping down off my high horse now,



DJan said...

Today's mores are so different than when I grew up that I hardly can connect them with anything meaningful. I think it would be great if you wrote about this phenomenon. I too think it's sad, but what do I know? I'm old and out of style.

Julie said...

You're looking at it from an adult perspective, knowing how difficult it is to raise a child by yourself. It is sad, especially sad for the child who will suffer the residual social ostracism their whole life. We all know that the child is blameless, but society will repeatedly make them feel less than whole.