Why I Wouldn’t Have Traded My Wacky and Wonderful Teenage Mom for the World.
When people find out I grew up with teenage parents who were divorced before I was one, they automatically label me as “unfortunate” or assume I had a sad or rocky childhood—and yes, I did bounce between my mom, dad, and grandparents a lot, and my life wasn’t without a few prickly patches here and there. But the truth is, my unconventional upbringing actually had its own particular brand of ideal—and my free-spirited teenage mom was a significant part of it.
One might not equate having an often role-reversal relationship mixed with being their mom’s playmate as ideal. In fact, being raised that way would—understandably so—throw a lot of people into the camp of dysfunction. But within the quirky dynamic my mom and I shared from the beginning, there was something completely natural—and even nurturing—for both of us in the decidedly “meant to be” magic that defined us.
Yes, my mom sometimes begged me to stay home from school and play with her (I refused all but once), and she played a few tricks on me that garnered squinty-eyed rejoinders (often with a hand defiantly thrown on my hip). But contrary to what one might expect from this kind of unconventional twosome, I was never burdened by or inappropriately responsible for taking care of my mom. In fact, the parental instinct she chose to embrace gave me one of the greatest gifts a child could receive: being allowed to always, as she coined it, “dance to my own drummer.”
While my mom and I shared an uncommon compatibility and adoration of each other, as well as similarly upbeat personalities, we were also very different. But to my mom’s credit, even in her lack of maturity as a young parent, she never strove to reshape me into someone who reflected her more nonconformist sensibilities; instead, she gave me unparalleled freedom to be unapologetically me, idiosyncrasies and all, with complete acceptance of who I was.
My mom not only instilled in me that my voice mattered, she allowed me to stand confidently in my authenticity as I took some relatively individualized paths in my life.
Though I spent my teen years living with my dad, and it was undoubtedly heartbreaking at times for my mom and me to see each other only sporadically, we came back together under the same roof when I was an adult. After nine years apart, we savored having independent lives yet relished when we could spend time watching favorite movies, engaging in long conversations, and cultivating our signature witty banter. When she resolved to seek out her birth mother, I was by her side; when I endured a lengthy dark night of the soul and was forced to completely reinvent myself, she was by mine. When we needed a confidant to share heartaches and dreams, disappointments and joys, I was there for her as much as she was there for me.
And when my beautiful mom—with whom I had always delighted in exchanging mother and daughter roles throughout our souls’ journey together in this lifetime, and whose unconditional love for me had never once wavered—left this Earthly plane much earlier than I ever expected, I was there as I’d promised as she set off for her next grand adventure.
People sometimes ask if I ever looked at more traditional families than mine and wished my upbringing had been different. And the truth is, with all the love and respect and freedom I was surrounded by from day one, despite my family’s atypical makeup, I honestly believed I had it made. I consider that awareness, both as a child and as an adult, a blessing beyond measure, as I do growing up with that sixteen-year-old girl I chose as my mother, who for nearly fifty-two years made being her daughter—with all the bumps we weathered together and the open, comical friendship that was the cornerstone of our relationship—a gift I wouldn’t trade for the world.
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The product of an exceptionally loving, accepting, and big-hearted family, Stacey Aaronson is author of the memoir Raising, and Losing, My Remarkable Teenage Mother. She is also founder of The Book Doctor Is In, where she takes writers by the hand as a ghostwriter, editor, book and website designer, and publishing partner to bring books of excellence to life. To date, she has been gleefully and gratefully involved in the full or partial production of over two hundred books, both within her business and as a layout artist for She Writes Press. Stacey lives on Whidbey Island, WA, with her soul mate of twenty-one years, Dana, and their rescued Maine Coon kitty. Visit Stacey at www.staceyaaronson.com and www.thebookdoctorisin.com.