DIARY OF A TEEN MOM
Interview with VIVIAN DE LEON
I was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. when I was 13 years old. Adjusting to a new life and trying to fit in was hard. I always felt like an outsider at school and at home. Chaos, arguments, yelling and screaming were part of the daily routine in my house. I felt lonely and craved love and attention
Did it ever occur to you that you might get pregnant as a teen?
No! Like most young people, I thought it could not happen to me.
Were you using protection? If not, Why not?
No, at that age, I felt invincible and did not think about the consequences of my actions. I also believed my boyfriend when he said he was "allergic" to condoms, and that wearing condoms would ruin the moment, and it wouldn't be as pleasurable for him.
What do you wish you knew before you got pregnant?
I wish I would've known about the responsibility it entails. My worries immediately changed from what to wear to incredibly important things like: how would I find a babysitter I could trust and afford? Would this person would treat my baby well? There are just so many things to know: all the doctor visits you have to miss work for; how helpless I felt when my baby was sick; how much time and attention children need and deserve; and how every decision, every mistake I made, would affect my baby in ways I can't even imagine. Perhaps most importantly, I wish I had known how important a father is in a child's life, but not just any father, a good, caring, loving, responsible one. My daughter did not have that and I regret it.
How is teen parenthood different than you thought it would be?
I thought and dreamed about marrying my baby's daddy and that we'd have a house with the white picket fence, travel all around the world and we'd live happily ever after. Clearly, none of that happened. I wish I would've listen to the adults who told me that if he showed no signs of responsibility as a young man – if he refused to find a job, dropped out of school, got arrested – then he would probably grow up to be an irresponsible man, without a care in the world. They were right!!! My daughter's father has never held a steady job in his life and never paid a dime in child support. He would actually rub it in my face that he "Knew how to play with the system, they can't make me pay if I have no job".
Why do you want to share your story with other teens?
I want teens to know how much I relate to the dream of forming a perfect family. You think you will never be lonely again but that's not the reality. If you feel unhappy now and you feel stuck at home, having a baby will only duplicate those feelings.
I don't know if there is a perfect age to become parents. What I know is that being young, uneducated, unemployed, and having no moral support makes the experience of parenthood so much harder. You can ALWAYS be a parent when you finish school and get a job. If the guy you're with now really loves you, he will still love you in a few years. You can start your family together then. The reality is that very few of the fathers of babies born to teen mothers stick around.
My daughter is undoubtedly my pride and joy, and she has brought me immense happiness. I have absolutely no complaints about her but what I do regret is that I gave her such a deadbeat, uncaring, emotionally unavailable father. And I was an inexperienced, immature, young mother.
My sincere advice to young people out there is to pace yourselves, enjoy your childhood and your adolescence. I always wanted to be older than my age, and it did not get me anywhere. Adulthood will come and when it does, there is no going back. There is no need to rush it!