I’m sorry for the lack of blog over the last few months. As I’ve mentioned on the Facebook page, events have rather overwhelmed me in the last few months.
The court case has happened, and looks likely to happen again (more in another post), but the most important thing that’s happened, and something I couldn’t really write about until now is that Youngest Daughter is pregnant.
It’s kind of funny. I’d been expecting baby news for almost three years – but I’d been expecting it in the form of an announcement from E and P – but not from one of my children. Having said that, I wasn’t really shocked.
When she started seeing her boyfriend, in May this year, we had *the chat*. I knew that she would likely be in a sexual relationship, and I knew I had no more control over that, than I had over the tides or the sun rising and setting. But I wanted her to be safe and comfortable with her decisions. This might sound too liberal to some, but to me it was purely pragmatic. I told her that it was her body and her rules. I told her that, if she was going to sleep with her boyfriend, I’d rather she did it at home, where she was safe, and where, if she felt uncomfortable or unsafe, she had support. For me it was about allowing her to set her own boundaries and explore them safely. Was I 100% comfortable with her in this kind of relationship? No, I wasn’t. I felt that she was too young, and I wasn’t sure if she was ready. But, I also knew that she was always going to follow her own path and that there was nothing I could do to stop her. We talked about contraception (she was using it) and had an appointment booked to get her the contraceptive pill, but, she’s 17 and ferociously fertile, and despite doing everything right, she fell pregnant.
To her credit, she told me she suspected she was pregnant before she’d even taken the test. We talked things through, I sent her, and her boyfriend, off with the money for a test kit, and a few hours later, I found out I was going to be a Grandma.
I wasn’t actually worried, at least, not in the long term, about her being pregnant – babies have a habit of coming when they’re meant to. Also, of all the things my daughters could tell me, of all the horrors a woman can face, of all the things that I worry about my children dealing with, a baby, whilst a life changer, was a positive thing, a lovely thing, something to be celebrated.
At the same time, this was something so momentous, so big that I could barely process it. I was still not receiving any child maintenance from E, the house was a mess, I struggling increasingly with anxiety, the CMS had just told me it would take another two months to get any money. I was mired in all the ‘stuff’ caused by E, and now I had this other, massive, thing to get my head round.
Her boyfriend is a lovely chap, but like her, he’s a kid (he’s 18), and this was obviously a huge thing for them both to deal with. When Youngest Daughter told me she was pregnant, I told her that all options were on the table, and that I’d support her no matter what she decided to do. She, however, was sure that she was going to keep the baby from the second she suspected she was pregnant. Her boyfriend was obviously 100% behind her, however, he had friends whispering in his ear, telling him that this was going to ruin his life, suggesting that he’d been manipulated into this, making comments and assumptions about Youngest Daughter’s character (it’s depressing how nothing changes – this is exactly what was said about the 17 year olds that ‘got pregnant’ – as if they did it magically, all by themselves – when I was 17). This made it really tough for both of them. He was overwhelmed and unsure. She needed support. They seemed to be facing a world which would turn its back on them. it was a touch few weeks for both of them.
When she first found out she was pregnant, Youngest Daughter didn’t want me to tell her Dad. However, a few weeks in she decided to text him. She did so in her own inimitable style: “Yo Grandad, where’s the child support, got an unborn baby to support here”. To my surprise, within a couple of days, he texted back. The volte-face that Youngest Daughter then went though regarding her Dad was staggering. She went from despising him, to worshiping him in the space of two texts. Whilst I was happy that she was happy, I did find this sudden change a little hard to deal with. After all, nothing had changed. he still hadn’t paid any child maintenance. the kids and I still could barely afford food, but all of a sudden Youngest Daughter was beaming and talking about her Dad as if he’d always been a wonderful part of her life.
I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt. However, the one thing I’ve tried to do throughout the separation, if to try to ensure the kids have a relationship with their Dad. I just wasn’t expecting her to change her attitude towards him, quite so dramatically (I’m not sure why – this is Youngest Daughter, and she does everything with her whole heart and soul, there were never going to be any half measures). I also think she’d been so desperate for his approval so so long, that now she was getting his attention and he was treating her like she was special, this was almost what she’d been waiting for for her whole life. She’d finally found something that she felt made her special to him. I didn’t mind that, but I was taken aback by how all of a sudden, in contrast to her wonderful Dad, and her boyfriend’s amazing parents (they have been incredibly supportive), that I was the Wicked Witch of the West. Everything I did was suddenly criticised and judged. The fact that I had spent money on wine, when we had no money, was me being selfish (no account taken of the fact we had no money because E hadn’t paid anything for nearly a year).
Of course, this was because I was the safest person in her whole world to be hostile too. At a time of huge confusion, and mired in a toxic cocktail of teenage hormones combined with pregnancy hormones, Youngest Daughter was lashing out at the one person who would never turn their back on her. But it was very hard to suddenly feel like I was so harshly judged, by someone who I was trying to do everything for. Thing thing was, she was right – of course, I never bought anything for myself without making sure the kids were ok – but I did buy wine that I couldn’t afford. Someone she’d looked up to was failing her by not being perfect, and someone she had hated was accepting her at the most difficult time of her life. That’s why her Dad was suddenly a hero. I knew this. But it didn’t make it any easier.
I’m pleased to say though, that as the months have moved on, things have improved and we’re back on an even keel. Her Dad has still done no more than text her, but she’s happy with that, she’s happy to be building a relationship with him, and I’m happy for her that she’s happy. I’m also proud of the way she’s dealing with the pregnancy and all the challenges that are coming with it. It doesn’t feel that long ago that I was pregnant with her, so seeing her body change, and watching her bump develop is an oddly emotional experience.
The others have all rallied round Youngest Daughter, and each in their own way have offered their support. Oldest Daughter is overwhelmed that her sister is doing something so grown-up and fascinated by her changing body. She’s also made a note of baby’s likely 18th, so that she can schedule taking him or her out for a drink. Youngest Son is over the moon (he doesn’t want to be called Uncle, he wants to be known as Funcle…), and Oldest Son, the one who is closest in age to Youngest Daughter, and the one who was probably the most shocked, is the one who is most interested in the scan pictures, and whose face softens whenever the baby is mentioned. I’m proud of them all. I think E leaving has made us a very tight knit unit, and nothing has proved this more than Youngest Daughter’s news. We weren’t expecting this, but we’ve all made space to accommodate the newest member of our family. This baby is going to be so loved.
My baby is having a baby and it’s an astonishing thing,