Her Mother And Her Friend

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I am the mother of a 22 year old woman. Yes, a woman. And her name is Jaelyn. Although at times I still call her “my little girl”, she’s very much a woman. She has been on her own since she was 18. She worked a full time job and kept a roof over her head and her bills paid, all while she did two internships and attended college full time. She maintained an A/B average too. She is now a college graduate with a BA in Psychological Studies and a minor degree in Children & Family Studies. She now works as a nurses’ tech in the psych ward at Self Regional in Greenwood, SC. All this at the age of 22. Yeah, she’s an adult now. I guess. My heart seems to think otherwise on a daily basis. She is my daughter and my friend.

I got pregnant with Jaelyn about a month after my 19th birthday. I had been seeing this 30 year old who my parents did not care for. So of course this made want him even more. We went out a few times, had sex just once, and I got pregnant. And all hell broke loose in my life. My parents were furious and hurt and disappointed and to them, getting pregnant out of wedlock was one of the worst things I could’ve done. And they let me know that on a daily basis. And to top things off, I found out that the man I was pregnant by was married, and that his wife was pregnant too. She and I had our babies 29 days apart. What a fun time all around!

I thought about having an abortion. I knew my parents weren’t gonna go for that so I thought about adoption too. But, she was mine, and I couldn’t imagine giving her away or her not being with me. She was mine and that’s all that mattered. My pregnancy was physically easy, but emotionally and mentally brutal. I felt like I was being judged and that no one cared about me. I felt alone and I felt like I had to protect my baby from everyone and everything. The sperm donor was long gone by then. My family was coming around but I was still mad at them too. I still felt alone. So as I mentally prepared to be a mother, I developed this “us against them” attitude. I decided that for as long as I had breath, it would be me and my baby against the world. That was the norm until I got married and had another baby.

I didn’t know a thing when I had Jaelyn. I was 19 and clueless. The only thing I did know is that I wanted us to have a different relationship than what I had with my mom. I knew that I wanted to talk to her, and not at her. I wanted her to know she could come to me with anything. I wanted her to know that I had her back no matter what. I never wanted her to feel unloved or unwanted. And today, she knows this, fully and completely.

She has drunk texted me before. She has drunk called me. She has asked me for life advice. She’s asked me for sex advice. She’s loaned me money. I’ve loaned her money. She’s my kid and my friend. We took our first road trip this past August and it was like riding with my girlfriend. Even in all of that, there’s a line of respect that remains intact. I know some are shaking their heads about the drunk calling and such. My mother thinks it’s disrespectful. But my mother is also 69 and was raised in a different time with different values.

Jaelyn has called me when life and bad choices have caught up with her. She has shared things with me that made me cry for what she was going thru. We’ve had some tough conversations. We’ve disagreed. We’ve gone days without speaking. But we always get it right and we fall back into our happy rhythm. My daughter has shared things with me that I know I would’ve never told my mother. I remember one conversation that left me in tears for several weeks. I was so mad at her for being stupid. I didn’t tell her that though. I told her, “It’s going to be okay. You messed up but you can fix it. I’m here. I got you. We’ll get thru this together.” And even though my heart broke because I couldn’t fix everything for her, I was so glad that she called me FIRST. She wasn’t afraid or fearful. She reached out to me immediately. Why? Because she knows that I will never judge her. I will never leave her hanging. I will never stop loving her. I’m her mother. And I’m her friend.

L. Thompson