What Being A Sibling Of A Teen Parent Has Taught Me, Besides The Obvious

What Being A Sibling Of A Teen Parent Has Taught Me, Besides The Obvious

It has given me the opportunity to love more than I ever thought I could.
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I remember hearing of the show "The Secret Life of an American Teenager" on ABC Family. I thought how could people have a baby as teenagers? They are so young! They are still in school. I was amazed at the fact that it even happened.

I never thought it would ever affect me or my family. I was raised in a strong, Christian home, with protective parents. We had curfews and had to always update our parents on where we were and who we were with at all times. I never thought it could happen to someone I knew.

Then it did.

It was a shock, obviously. I couldn't believe it. I was just entering my freshman year of high school, and my older brother was just finishing up his freshman year in college. He was 19. NINETEEN. Like, what?

It was on the down low for a long time. Then, people started finding out. I heard people talking at school, and out in public places. It was never anything bad, well at least of what I heard. It was always the same.

"Wow. I just can't believe it. They ruined their college years."

Eventually, the talking went away, and then the preparation and readiness of welcoming their baby into the world came.

I learned a lot in that process of awaiting that baby and then caring for the baby when she finally was born.

Babies cost A LOT. Baby clothes, toys, accessories, food, diapers, and things I didn't even know existed were bought. How many clothes can one baby have, honestly? There was so much more to this whole baby thing than I thought.

You give up a lot. You shouldn't have a baby until you're ready, that is pretty obvious. My brother and his girlfriend at the time were both in college. They were beginning their lives out in the world and then they both gave up their spots in great colleges to take on the role of parenting their daughter.

You also gave up socializing. Instead of going out every weekend with friends, you were home, taking care of your child. The young years you thought you were going to spend going out and partying, are now filled with diapers and reruns of "Barney" and "Elmo."

Nothing can prepare you for how hard it actually is.

No matter how many people give you tips or try to prepare you for parenthood you will never know until you actually do it. There is an emotional roller coaster, lack of sleep, baby vomit, poop, pee and lots of tears, but there is also nothing greater than loving someone as much as you love your baby. And I see that in the way my brother and niece's mother care for and love her.

It adds stress to those around you. If you aren't prepared, you might still be living at home. That means other people other than you and your baby are living with you. My brother was living with his three siblings and mom and dad. I didn't realize the amount of stress it would cause all of us in the house.

We had places to go and things to do, but now we also had our brother and his child. We had to be careful of what we said and what we had on TV. We had to be quiet at night and during nap times. We had to help out in taking care of her.

But, it brings an amazing amount of love. I realize that the last few things I talked about were more negative, but being the sibling of a teen parent isn't a bad thing. Yeah, it has its up and downs, but it is so rewarding. I got to bond with my niece in a way that I won't ever with any other nieces or nephews I will have.

I got to take care of her when she was sick, and watch her after school when both her parents were working. My entire family and I got to bond with her and love her all the time and make sure she knew how much she was loved.

Being the sibling of a teen parent has truly shown me how love conquers all. Through all the ups and the downs this journey has brought my brother and our family, it has brought this beautiful little girl into our lives who lights up the room whenever she is around.

Being the sibling of a teen parent has given me the opportunity to love more than I ever thought I could.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Johnston

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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To The Sister About To Move Away, Girl, You've Got This

You may not physically be here right now, but you're always with our family.

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You were there on the day I was born, somehow sleeping soundly as our mom gave birth to me. I'll never forget the photograph of her presenting me to the world and you sitting beside her, holding up your newly-purchased beanie baby with pride as if being handed this toy was equal to the miracle of birth.

It was a crab, by the way, which somehow makes it funnier.

Growing up, you loved to trick me. You'd make me do chores for you and steal my favorite Barbies, but I think that's just part of being an older sister. I'd stick my tongue out at you and cry out the same phrase, "Mooooom, Sissy is being mean to me!" In fact, I yelled this phrase so often that it began to take on a musical quality.

You were mean at times, but you always had my back. You physically beat up other children that had wronged me, and you let me crawl into your bed so we could watch TV together and exchange stories. We'd often immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds where we were princesses and we rode unicorns side-by-side.

But we grew up, and our fantasy world evaporated like the muddy puddles we'd play in after stormy nights. One second it was there, and then, it was just gone. I remember having a conversation a few years back where we wondered if we had known the last time we played Barbies would, in fact, be our last.

When I was a seventh grader, you were a junior in high school. Our problems were very different back then, but that didn't stop us from talking endlessly about them. We were so similar. We bonded over cheerleading, cute boys, books and music. But even more than that, we bonded over our similar life views and questions about the universe. We both possessed an innate love for life yet we were both distrustful of society's guidelines.

Watching you enter new life phases enthralled me. I thought, Wow, that will be me someday. I danced around the house in each of your four prom dresses, my imagination taking me to a place much grander than a high school gymnasium. Through your stories, I romanticized the future and hoped that I would be as cool as you.

It was a little tough at times, though, always longing for a different part of life. When I entered junior high, all I wanted was to be in high school. When I entered high school, I decided college was much cooler because that's what you said. And you were certainly right about that one.

You were the only one I felt comfortable sharing my writing with, the only one I knew could read the meaning behind my sideways glances. We just got each other in every way.

And we still do. To this day, you are one of the people I love and trust most. I don't know what I am going to do without you by my side, as you've been right there for 20 years. But I'm so proud of you. Of the many things we would lay around and talk about throughout the years, one topic persisted: moving away. Moving used to be a pipe dream, something beautiful that lived in your mind but would never come to pass.

And then you took a chance. And now that dream is a reality.

I want you to know how much I admire you. You are so incredible and resilient. I've never met anyone so strong-minded and willing to fight for what she believes in. You would never compromise yourself or your values for another person, but you are generous with others and so kind-hearted.

You are curious about the world and have a desire to learn about life and the richness it has to offer. That is a special quality that cannot be learned. You are beautiful in every way and are truly a blessing to have as a sister.

And it is from these very qualities and so many others that I know you will do great on your own. Sure, it's super tough at first; nobody said it would be easy. But if anyone can do it, then that person is certainly you.

I will always cherish our moments together, and you can always count on me to be there on the sidelines cheering you on, no matter where your adventure takes you.

Much love,

Your Little Sis

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