Thursday, June 26, 2008

Babies Having Babies

Time magazine reports that 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting. The moms-to-be are just 16 years old. Some younger. Apparently they made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. The sperm donors, since I scarcely can call them fathers, include a 24-year-old homeless man.

I love being a mother. I can remember the first time John, my boyfriend (eventually my husband), and I talked about having kids. We were just beginning to get serious, but I blithely announced that I wanted six children. John has admitted that his first inclination was to walk, very fast and very far away. We ended up with four kids, which was the perfect size for us.

But what was clear to me long before I had these little darlings is that once you have them, um, you have them. I could envision dumping husbands (singular or plural), but there's no divorcing kids.

Which is why I'm always astonished at couples who have no hesitation to procreate, but are worried about making a commitment to each other. To me, marriage was easy, and quite frankly, fixable if it was a mistake. But kids? Like it or not, and certainly all parents will agree that there are moments which are not blissful (I'm a writer so I dutifully checked for a synonym for my first word choice: ghastly), having children is a no-money back, lifetime commitment. Sure there's nothing like new baby smell, which if they could bottle it, I'd buy a case of the stuff. But there's also nothing like wall-to-wall baby poop, which the little one has smeared "everywhere" upon awakening from his "10-minutes I'm done for the day" nap.

I'll take Brad and Angelina (do they need last names?) at their word that their refusal to marry is based on principle. They insist they're committed to each other and their burgeoning brood. Of course, Angie's already been married twice and Brad's batting 0 for 1, so it's hard to be sure that principle is the only reason why they're avoiding the wedding cake dessert.

But what about P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, whatever? I've got nothing against the man. He certainly seems to take financial responsibility for the five children he's fathered with three different women. But as to any strolls down the aisle, it's not going to happen soon. "I have to be ready to get married," he insists. Ready for what? I mean you have to be ready to raise kids too, and that's more than writing a support check every month (although that's obviously preferable to not writing one).

The teen years are a time to study, have fun with your friends, do crazy (but safe) stunts, and simply put, grow up. Sure, having a child puts you on the fast track to adulthood – but what's the rush? Babies having babies is wrong for the mothers and their offspring. And teens getting pregnant, as part of some bad initiation rite, is a club no girl should be joining.

Evelyn David

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