*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
When I got pregnant at twenty-three years old I was not in a stable relationship with the baby’s father, but I knew I wanted to keep my baby and raise her myself, anyway. Due to some complications toward the middle of my pregnancy, I had to stop working, and I was very lucky at the time that my parents were willing and able to take me in while I didn’t have a means of income. I lived there with my parents and daughter until she was about two. By that time I was working again making enough money to support myself and Tori, and frankly, I was very proud of myself for that.
Being a single mom is a challenge, an extra challenge on top of just parenting. It’s not for the faint of heart, the naive, or the young, in my opinion. Alas, sometimes people get into situations that are not, on the surface, ideal, and those people do the best they can with what they have.
There was a very brief time in my life when I took temp jobs between long-term waitressing gigs, and one of those temp jobs landed me in an office for a few months. I hated the job because it consisted mostly of alphabetizing and filing documents into boxes and then hauling those boxes off to storage. The only time I ever really got to interact with other humans in that job was in the break room during my lunch.
There was a woman I worked with named Nancy who was quite the loudmouth chatterbox. I didn’t even sit at the table where she ate most afternoons, but nevertheless, I knew the intimate details of her life, and therefore also her son’s life, because Nancy just loved talking about herself and her dysfunctional family.
I learned through listening that Nancy had a fifteen-year-old son named Aaron who had apparently gotten his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Michelle, pregnant. When she first shared this news with her co-workers, Nancy was at her wit’s end and didn’t know what to do. She was a religious woman, so very upset and ashamed that her son had conceived a child out of wedlock, and at such a remarkably young age, at that.
Nancy had told Aaron that he needed to propose to Michelle and marry her before the baby was born, but Michelle’s parents wouldn’t allow it. They didn’t want Michelle to keep the baby at all, but of course, Aaron’s religious upbringing instead upon it.
The only other solution was for Michelle to move into Nancy’s house so she and Aaron could raise the baby there.
Michelle apparently thanked Nancy profusely for letting her move in and supporting the teens in their decision to keep the baby, and that’s why Nancy was so upset when Michelle started to push back against the things Nancy required of her to stay there. Listening in on these conversations day after day, I learned that part of the agreement Nancy made with Michelle for her to live there was for Michelle to do a lot of chores. Michelle was responsible for doing all of the dishes regardless of who cooked and left them in the sink, she was told to vacuum the whole house every other day, and wash and fold the laundry of everyone in the house.
Nancy was irate that months after the baby was born, Michelle confronted her and told Nancy she felt like her house slave.
“She doesn’t work, she doesn’t pay rent, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask her to do these things,” Nancy said of her.
I wondered, for a sixteen-year-old mom who is trying to complete high school, would it really be in her best interest to get some kind of part-time after-school job to pay rent to her mother-in-law who essentially was the one who forced her into the situation in the first place? Probably not.
What do you think about Nancy’s demands on Michelle?
Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan
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