*I share my experiences for the purpose of teaching/motivating/inspiring sisters who might be able to relate or who might be in the same situation. This is NOT a confession
*Please keep in mind that this was all before I knew anything about Islam.
When I fist became pregnant I was only 17 years old. I was so happy, but for the wrong reasons. I didn't finish high school and I began a relationship with the first boy that said he loved me.
To give some more clarity as to how messed up my situation was, I need to mention also that I grew up an orphan. An orphan whose parents were very much alive but unable to raise their children. My parents were not able to care for us (my brothers and I), so I was in foster care from 6-15yrs old. Shortly after I was in foster-care, my father was sent to jail and served a 15 year sentence.
To get to why I'm bringing up my childhood, and how this ties into how I became a single, teenage mother is to understand how low self esteem can effect some teens. I grew up unstable (3 family members, 6 foster homes and a group home by the time I was 15). I went to six elementary schools and three high schools. Not having my parents or siblings drove me to want to create the family I never had because I was always the outsider. Problem was, I had no clear direction, steps or guidance. By the time I was 15, I had been placed with my paternal grandparents who had moved from Chicago, IL to Dixon, IL. The move united me with my older brother (we are 13 months a part), and closer to the prison my father was in (we were then close enough to visit every day). My grandparents had the best of intentions MashaAllah, however it was not enough to get through to an already damaged me.
My grandparents, who were originally from Puerto Rico, spoke very little English and were Pentecostal. I felt that they were out of touch and didn't understand this "American" culture, or what I was facing as a teen. While my family always spoke of marriage and the need to have a husband, there was also a lot of mashismo and double standards I didn't understand, and rebelled against (ie. refusing to learn how to cook). While I knew my family loved me, there was no emphasis on self love, self esteem or healthy confidence. All that mattered was what others thought of you and who you were associated with.
Having grown up within a system that represented (to me) abandonment, I became an expert people pleaser - seeking acceptance/ a place to belong. I learned to bottle-up my feelings, and put myself last for everything. I felt unworthy of anything good, and if anything good did happen - I expected to pay for it in full. I am Puerto Rican yet a mollato (mixed Spanish, Native and West African) and so I also carried complexes regarding my skin color, scars and hair texture that often paralyzed me (depression) and kept me from wanting to draw any attention to myself physically (why I never learned to swim or play competitive sports). I loved to learn but after going to three high schools I thought the only hope for me was to serve a purpose for someone else. I not only thought I needed to be saved, I thought I also had to pay the price one had to pay for being saved - extreme selflessness.
I share this because there are so many looking to be saved, "loved". There are not only teens and lost youth going though this quest for validation but adults as well. This life is not about waiting for others give you value or worth but to seek it for oneself.
I used to look at my childhood with sadness and my poor choices as a teen and young adult with anger and bitterness. I learned that a life away from God, is guarantee depression-which is where I was. Looking for things and people to fuel and feed your soul is like putting orange juice in a cars gas tank, unnatural and will eventually lead to more and bigger problems. Being a mother taught me to not only be responsible and balanced but to lean on and submit to something other then myself when I need refueling, the one who created me.
"And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind." - Quran Surat Taha 20:124
Not all teenage mothers are bad or promiscuous. Not all youth are lost in this corrupt, selfish world. Some are just misguided (or un-guided), hurt and looking for love/purpose in all the wrong places. InshaAllah we all find our way and remain on the straight path (Islam). May we also not forget to learn the lessons from the times we do stray so that we can help others from repeating our mistakes. May we also appreciate Allah's mercy and not take it for granted. ameen.