Jeff and I first conceived a child in January of 2004. When I found out I was pregnant- I was overjoyed and went into immediate overload of information mode. It’s what I tend to do. I need to know as much as I possibly can about whatever subject I am passionate about. I started reading everything I could and came upon the online community at Baby Center. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the women or how the place was set up. Then I miscarried and just never went back.
When I became pregnant again, I sought out another online community to join and found Pregnancy.org and this was my niche. I found a birth board- all pregnant women who were due to give birth in March 2005. I’m still friends with several of these women but we keep in touch through Facebook for the most part. Our group went through a lot in the years that we relied on each other for each move and doctor visit and all the birth stories (our earliest was born in Dec!) and all those milestones and joys and frustrations. We asked each other for help, we laughed and cried together, we inspired each other.
There was one young mom that I felt a particular kinship with. She turned 21 just a bit after finding out she was pregnant and joining our board. She was a single mom with a very unexpected pregnancy. Because my mom raised me as a single parent, I felt this connection to Lindsey and her situation.
Ava is Lindsey’s daughter. Ava was born just 2 days before Teagan. Lindsey is now 27 and is about to celebrate her 1 year wedding anniversary to Mike. Choosing to birth and keep Ava changed Lindsey life. She is an amazing young woman- beautiful and funny and compassionate and smart. She is uniquely in tune with her daughter- the years that they spent with it being just the 2 of them created a very special bond. Lindsey understands Ava in a very special and profound way.
A lot of Lindsey’s story is best told in Lindsey’s words.
I found out I was pregnant with my daughter two weeks to the day before my 21st birthday. I was devastated, frightened, terrified. But, it did not take long for my heart to know that for all the “pro-choice” talk I spouted, I could not do anything but have and love the baby that was inside of me. Before I had Ava, I was a child. I have grown up right along side of her, and while I do think that is special in its own respect, in retrospect, I do have my fair share those “if I only knew then what I know now” moments. But, I am sure all mothers, heck, all people, have the same moments.
From the moment I knew I would have her, and be on my own, I committed my life to my daughter. I committed myself, all that I am, to doing everything I could to give her the best life possible. I understood at a very tender age that this child did not choose to be born or to have me as her mother, and I chose to have her, and therefore, I must be willing to give it everything I’ve got.
You see what I mean? She is a remarkably wise woman.
I was very close to Lindsey in those first couple of years. We bonded tightly together and turned to each other for advice and support quite often. She lives far away from me (she is in Connecticut) so it was a huge excitement when I was able to travel on business on 2 occasions and spend a weekend with her.
When Ava was 2 1/2, Lindsey met Mike. As I recall, they spent a lot of time getting to know each other by e-mail and phone calls first. Lindsey was very serious about not bringing someone into Ava’s life that wasn’t going to be a long term commitment- to Ava. I was always so proud of her when she talked about that balance- it came to her naturally because she knew what was best for her child. No matter that Lindsey might be a bit lonely for adult companionship or long for more of a social life- she set limits and stuck to them because that was what was best for Ava. Period. And when she did start an in person relationship with Mike, it was an “after Ava’s bedtime” relationship and most of their dates were in Lindsey’s living room!
The relationship was a solid one and Lindsey knew she’d found someone she could commit to who understood that committing to Lindsey included a commitment to Ava.
Our marriage, unlike many couples, is not the foundation of our family. Or at least, it doesn’t feel like it is. Ava came first, and was all mine for the first few years of her life. I definitely have the upper hand in how we parent. That said, having a male around is an amazing help with an unruly child – the deep voice alone yields results that I could not yield with much more severe punishment. Not fair. Also, I tend to get “stuck home” more often, and he can run independently around doing errands or taking naps with more frequency. But, I hear those very same complaints from most moms I know whose children’s fathers have been around since “go”.
We are working on standing as a firm unit, which is important, in Ava’s presence. This is a daily learning experience for us.
He is an incredible dad: everything I could have asked for for my Ava. They play Barbies – he makes up these soap operas; He goes to Home Depot, she wants to go with him. He watches basketball and teaches her about the sport. They have a very special relationship.
I think my marriage is so strong because we’re already doing the toughest thing imaginable: raising a child together, and we’ve been doing that since the beginning. I give Mike all the credit in the world for leaping into this, and I think our marriage is stronger for it.
Here is where I admire Lindsey. Here is where I find myself a little jealous of Lindsey. Here is where I learn from Lindsey.
I asked her about her mothering style and where it came from. Lindsey sees herself, completely, in Ava. Because of this, Lindsey knows what drives this little pistol.
I know exactly what to do with a daughter like me. And now I have one. So I know, like my mother didn’t, that Ava’s determination is not something I can subdue. I just have to point it in the right direction.
I know, like my mother didn’t, that her stubborn nature is there because she desperately wants to be right, because she wants to be the best, and so I, unlike my mother, can assure her that she is wonderfully important WHILE I teach her that she is sometimes going to be wrong.
I know that her passion cannot be controlled, and needs to be shared. It’s my job to teach her the when and where and how to display it.
I know that she will always need to know that she is my everything; It is my job to grow this child within a foundation of love and support that is such that she will never doubt my dedication to her. Or her importance in my life. This is the most important thing that I know about my daughter that my mother didn’t know about me.
I have to admit- I wish I knew Teagan so intimately and passionately. I hope I experience that with Zach. Sometimes I think I do and other times… I’m clueless. When I first read Lindsey’s words, I cried. I was in the midst of writing her on my blog about all the issues that had been popping up with Teagan and I was exhausted and frustrated. And here’s my friend with this beautiful insight into her own daughter. It doesn’t mean she has less challenges or meltdowns or tantrums to deal with. It means that she has a foundation of knowledge to pull from to better understand what motivates her daughter.
Finally, I asked Lindsey about how she defines success in parenting and any final words of advice.
I think we have to celebrate any and all successes along the way. The birth, the first smile, step, every birthday. The first time she is on stage in a dance recital. The first day of kindergarten. When you see your child exhibit the behaviors you have fought so hard to teach her. I think any success of theirs is a success of ours as parents, to a degree. I tend to celebrate myself and my successes every year on her birthday. I do this privately, like a mental gauge of what I did right and wrong this year and what I want to work on with her for the coming year. I don’t think I’ll ever stop patting myself on the back for the first 3 years of her life that I made it through on my own.
I am so interested to see her when she’s about my age now – seeing who she is and what she holds dear and what her life is like. I think I’ll know then where my successes and my failures lay at that point.
I’ve got no advice, except sleep as much as you can, laugh as much as you can, and remember: The days are long, the hours are long, but the years are so unbelievably short. It goes by slower and faster than you could possibly imagine.
For the past year, Lindsey and I had slowly grown apart. There were a lot of reasons for it. We’re working on reconnecting and I am so grateful for that opportunity. She is someone who will always be very special to me. I don’t know that there are words to express how much I respect and admire her.
There was a time that I had asked her for advice- I forget which time. She shared advice with me that a dear, old, and very wise friend shared with her when she found out that she was pregnant. You make your choice. However you arrive at it- you make your choice. Then, you live it. Fully and completely. Lindsey did that when she chose to go through that pregnancy- and it was a very difficult pregnancy for her. She chose to keep her baby and raise her. She chose to become a mother who was and is completely and fully plugged in to her family, her daughter.
She is a Mother Who Moves Me.