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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An Open Letter To The Friend Who Became My Sister

Love is thicker than blood.
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Sis,

There are friends. Then, there are best friends.

According to "Grey’s Anatomy’s" Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, they're your person. The one who, “if I murdered someone, I’d call you to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.” You’re so much more to me than any of those titles can express.

As I’ve matured throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that good friends with good hearts serve an incredibly important purpose in our lives, going above and beyond what we give them credit and appreciation for.

The family we choose. You’re one of those.

The day we met, I knew that you were going to play an important role in my life. What I had no idea of was that you would join the cast of my life with a starring role.

First, I need to say thank you. Thank you for always coming to my locker to check in before class during high school. Thank you for letting me control the music on road trips. Thank you for sharing your family with me, and addressing my family as if you were born into it.

Thank you for patiently listening to the physical embodiment of a broken record when I complain about the same boy I’ve loved since senior year. Thank you for tagging along on every doctor’s appointment, grocery run, and trip to the post office, just because you know that I hate doing things alone.

Thank you for not thinking twice before dialing when I text you “please call me.” Thank you for never saying no to a coffee date. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being my better half.

We don't share the same genetic makeup, but after all the sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations, shopping until our bank accounts cry, and swapping clothes so often that we don’t know what belongs to whom, how could I not consider you family? We have shared some my fondest memories together, and I wouldn’t want them to feature anyone but you.

You’ve been with me on my best days, and loved me on my worst. You know how to make me laugh when all I want to do is crawl into a hole and die.

Picturing sitting in my car with you in the passenger seat makes me long for summer, where we spend three months together doing all of our favorite things. You’ve seen me naked, done my makeup, and warned me before making a poor decision. Being away from you for extended periods of time makes me feel incomplete.

You are a piece of me that I am not quite whole without. You taught me that blood doesn’t make a family; love does.

You know me better than I know myself, which is both amazing and terrifying. You make me realize I’m enough for this world, and that means more to me than I know how to express in the limited words that make up the English language.

You remind me that I am more than my mistakes, and you keep me grounded when I spiral out of control. You’ve helped me carry my burdens along with your own, even when the universe comes down on you full force, way harder than you deserve.

You’re the one I come to for the truth if I think my new dress makes me look fat, and I know you’ll be honest. I trust you with my whole heart. You know the gory details about every boy I’ve ever crushed on, every professor who was an absolute jerk, and every fight I’ve had with my mom.

I wouldn’t make it in this life without someone who already understands and listens to every thought going through my head and each thing I seriously over think, even when you know, though you don’t say, it won’t matter in a week.

With all these affectionate things being said, don’t forget our fights. The few we’ve had were very real. We still don’t see eye to eye on some events of the past, but I never told my mom about it because there was no need to make her choose a side between me and her “second daughter.

We have learned to move forward, because the love we have for each other overwhelmingly outweighs any disagreement we’ve had, and always will.

Through all the tears and laughs, I don’t think that anything the world has to offer could seriously come between us. You go to a different school than me now, and college has rudely gotten in the way of our routine of spending every waking moment together.

Since we met, we’ve grown separately without growing apart. Neither of us are the same person we used to be all those years ago. Even so, we’ve pushed each other to our limits and you’ve given me the courage to keep going and do things that make me happy.

We lean on each other when it’s been a bad day and all we want to do is to snuggle and indulge in whichever show the other is currently watching unceasingly and unabashedly for comfort (it’s the little things). Having you as my co-pilot on this crazy ride called life has been frustrating, exciting, slightly concerning, absolutely insane, and something I don’t know how I would live without, and I don’t intend to find out.

I’ll conclude this letter with a quote from every basic, white girl’s favorite musical, “I don’t know if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Love you forever,

Your sis

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Fiction On Odyssey: Until The End

It's nice to have a peaceful day, but nothing is peaceful when you're with your best friend.

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I walk cheerfully throughout the house, humming Beethoven's fifth symphony. It's not every day where I can have a good day. With school, job, volunteer work and other stuff, it's hard to find a day where I can relax. As I enter the kitchen, I notice Michael leaning against the counter drinking orange juice.

"Well, I see you let yourself into the house," I state as I walk towards the cabinet to get a glass. I fill it up to the brink and take large gulps.

"That's what happens when you give me your house key," He says, smiling sweetly.

"I gave it to you for emergencies!" I say with fake anger.

"I was thirsty!" Michael exclaimed back.

"Being thirsty is not an emergency."

"It is if food is your life!"

"You're unbearable."

"I know."

We both look at each other and burst out laughing. Michael is leaning against the chair trying not to fall but failed miserably. Now, he is rolling on the floor, laughing so hard, no noise is even coming out. I'm leaning on the counter, trying to breathe but failing miserably.

We finally calm down, try to start breathing properly and wipe tears from our eyes. I turn my head and see my older brother staring at us as if we were going insane before telling us,

"I wanted some peace, so I thought to myself why not go home, but then I remembered that you live in it too."

Michael sticks his tongue out at him, and he sticks his back out before going upstairs to his room. We both sigh and sit down on the couch in the living room and stare at the TV. Usually, we would find something stupid to do, but we just sat there. Michael's head leaned against my shoulder, which looks like he is hunched over due to the fact that he is taller than me. I sat there continuing to hum Beethoven's fifth symphony when I heard the front door knob jiggle.

Michael lifts his head and turns to see who's going to come in. The front door view was blocked by a wall, so we couldn't see who would come in from our vantage point. We both have our heads peeking from the top of the couch, watching silently to see who comes in.

"I hope it's the FBI!"

He turns to stare at me with an incredulous look, saying, "Are you insane? Did you do something to draw the attention of them?"

I look at him from the corner of my eyes and whisper to him, "I've never seen anyone kick a door in before. It's so exciting! And no, I didn't do anything."

"Knowing you, I bet you did," Michael whispers back.

"Shut up or they'll know we're home."

We continue to stare until the door opens. We both hold out breaths and lower our heads in an attempt to hide.

"The door wasn't broken, so we can rule out the FBI," Michael states. I roll my eyes at him and stare to see whoever walks through the door.

"Kids, I'm home!"

My eyes widen. She's home early. She must have had a quiet day today at work.

"Hi, mom!" I hear my brother yell from upstairs. My mom chuckles and looks towards us with a questioning look in her eyes, to which Michael replies with while pointing his finger at me,

"She thought you were the FBI." I shoot Michael a glare. My mom laughs at this and whispers to herself as she walks upstairs to get cleaned us, "What am I going to do with you kids."

We sat there on the couch, the house quiet minus the yelling from my brother who is probably playing Fortnite.

"You ever wonder about the future?" Michael asks me with a thoughtful expression.

"I do, sometimes," I reply back.

"You ever notice how we are told to follow our dreams and work hard, but in the end, it doesn't matter? People just say that, but don't mean it, because it's all about money to them."

"Ya. Why can't we make money doing what we love? It might not be a lot, but at least every day won't be dreadful," I reply back softly.

"Well, I say screw all of them. It's going to be a long and painful journey, but we have to hope that in the end, it will all be worth it, plus I've got you to drag me out of trouble."

"I couldn't agree with you more," I replied, smiling at him, wondering where I found an amazing friend.

"I help up my pinky finger to her, smile, and say, "Until the end?"

He looks and me, smiles, and hooks his pinky around mine and says to me, "Until the end."

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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