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To the Moon and Back

My Life as a Teen Mom

By Guenneth SpeldrongPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 27 min read
A collage I made when I was about 20 I think.

I hit 18 the way I was always expected to: thin, pretty, clean, smart, graduate on good standing after 4 years of high school, sober, college prospects, no children, and no arrests on record.

On paper I was a stand up, hard working kid with a bright future.

My path was not an easy one, however, nor was it normal. Being pretty and smart were especially bad for me; I attracted too much unwanted attention, and was only intelligent enough to know what was wrong with my life. I was not smart enough to know how to fix things...just enough to make me miserable.

(I will try to tell my story, but remember that I have PTSD, so if I "sound" strange, or unemotional, or flat, it is because of my coping mechanisms, ok?)

I was homeless all throughout my high school years. Getting to school wasn't easy, so I just...didn't go very often. On days I DID go, I was sometimes asked to leave for things like not having shoes, my smell distracting the other students, or I would just fall asleep in my first class, and Missy Blair would leave me to sleep the rest of the day where I passed out... I assume out of pity.

I missed 2 years like this. I would try to at least show up for my "shift" at the cafeteria. This is what I called serving my classmates their food in exchange for a larger than normal portion of lunch by the kind and pitying lunch ladies.

After a while, I just stopped trying to go to class. I was too behind, too lost, too hungry and cold.

I focused on getting a job instead, one that actually paid me what they promised me, and did not ask for any part of my body. This happened the day I turned 16 and could legally work.

My options were limited, since I was so young, and I was able to land a job at Riverfront Park thanks to a chance encounter with a friend. He stopped me on my way to the interview with a "is that what you're wearing!?". I looked down at my best borrowed outfit- a black button up and long black skirt, then found myself in a fancy boutique where he bought me a peach skirt and and white shirt.

I was one of 6 kids hoping for that job, and the only reason I got it over the others was because I didn't wear all black to the interview.

That peach skirt is what saved me from the streets.

Work became my life. I took a 2nd job that paid me only in a free apartment if I cleaned emptied rooms and collected rent. My drug addict ex set me up with it, and I'm pretty sure it came with pay that he took.

Oh well, I had a place to live and food stamps for old and money for everything else.

I tried to go back to school, mostly because I had a life I didn't want to risk because I was caught by truancy officers...but I still wasn't a good student. Mostly because I was too busy with work, a complicated life, underage drinking to drown my issues, being hit by a car and having trouble walking, and having a bad attitude. The latter was all my teachers saw, so they weren't willing to give me a break.

I was just another lazy punk kid to them. They didn't believe I was hurt, and made me run a mile uphill every day. I tried once, but never went back. They tried to give me Saturday School, but I had a living to make so I threw a fit about having to spend my most profitable day sitting in the school not being allowed to do homework for 6 hours. I simply refused to go and they gave up on me, letting me come and go as I pleased.

That's me in the middle, rocking a mermaid dress. My current boyfriend is rocking my other dress, lounging on the ground like a French girl ready for painting.

Senior year hit and I suddenly began to panic about my future. If I didn't at least graduate from school, my life would never get any better. I would still be working hard to be taken advantage of by drug addict losers, at the mercy of boys in men's bodies, drinking my sorrows and money away, working crappy jobs for pennies. I had shuffled jobs and crash pads many times, sometimes finding myself back on the streets. It wasn't safe, or desirable.

I wanted to be more. I knew I wasn't worth more, but I still wanted more.

I weighed my options: GED, start high school from the beginning, or a special intensive study program to do 3 years of high school in 1.

I chose the hard way; I usually do.

I buckled down and worked my behind off. I completed 3 years of high school in 8 months. I eve earned good grades; I was so proud!!!

Then I got the news that my French teacher was failing me. Apparently Je ne parle pas Francais! Domage!

So I went to the French teacher, and agreed to do several packets of extra work, and 3 big French projects. I had 2 weeks to do them.

I did them all, and received high marks on all of them! I was proud again!

That bitch still failed me, if you can believe it. Merde!

I went in and had a huge tantrum at my counselor, ranting on a soap box regarding all the work I did, and for nothing!!!

The poor Mr. Adams listened to me for 30 or so minutes, until I ran out of steam. Then he told me he would give me a half a credit for working. That half a credit was all I needed to graduate.

Once again I skirted ruin by the skin of my teeth and the surprise help from someone I know.

Most of the time, I was on my own. For as long as I can remember, I was always the caretaker and never the cared for. I remember changing my own diaper, then making sure my mom and sisters got to sleep. I have a small handful of moments where I felt cared for. I keep them buried in my mind like treasure, too afraid to relive them and perhaps discover they weren't what I remember.

Anyways, freshly diploma'ed I stood with my class and proudly took my place in the world. I didn't care that everyone around me had it much easier, or that some people I stood with hadn't really earned their grades and subsequent jobs. I had succeeded all odds, took the road less traveled, and I was happy to be there.

The second I turned 18 I went to get a better paying, full time job, and an apartment all my own. Sure, the new job was crappy, filled with sexist assholes, and they abused me terribly...but it was better money and more hours. Sure, my new apartment smelled like rotten cheese and had a heater that was stuck on high...but it was mine. I applied to the local community College I thought was prettier, and was excited to find out what I wanted to be. I was thinking psychologist, since all the best ones are a little crazy, just like me!

I worked from 5 am to about 10 pm, with a 2 hour break in the middle. I just stayed there using my break, so I was there a lot. Tips were not allowed, but sometimes I was given them and I was able to buy a nice dinner on my way home because of them.

One night I ran into my old boyfriend, Tom, while walking home and we made noncommittal plans to hang out sometime.

A few nights later he was outside my apartment when I came home with stuff to make a casserole. Maybe we planned to meet and I forgot? I dunno I worked a lot.

So he came in and we cooked dinner, the he made the moves on me and I was too tired and overwhelmed to either stop him or care. I tried to give him a condom but he didn't listen to me so I dropped it when it was already too late.

What is it with these guys!? Seriously, let us fucking breathe already!?

At a party, right before I got pregnant. No, it was nobody here...in fact that guy I'm kissing is super gay lol.

I laid in bed, wondering what just happened, and he wet to the bathroom. Somehow, I just knew I was pregnant. I had no doubt in my mind. Sometimes I just knew things, you know? I'm weird like that.

I was already not drinking, and I was eating ok at the new restaurant, and feeling stronger. I had gained some weight which I thought was a sign I was doing better. I wasn't cold all the time, my energy was up, and so I felt safe to put myself in denial for a little while. I did this so I could figure out a game plan, what I wanted, and to get used to the idea that my life would never be the same.

While I am strictly pro-choice, I knew my choice would be to keep my baby. I always wanted to be a mother someday...and I guess that day was coming much sooner than anticipated! I took better care of myself than usual, telling myself it was just a health kick. I took multi vitamins for my health too. I ignored the fact that they were prenatal.

After a month and a half I knew I had to go see a doctor. I told my best friend, Dani, so I couldn't chicken out. She told me to quit being an idiot and go to the damn doctor.. man I love her!!

The denial bubble had burst, and I was in reality again. I had to tell poor (emotionally) dumb Tom now. I was a little afraid. I remember how he would ignore me for hours or days, then suddenly throw a fit about nothing and get violent. One day, when we were younger, he punched the wall by my head, and I packed to go as soon as he started ignoring me again. I packed a whole bag right in front of him and he didn't even notice. The guy had problems.

I was almost to the bus when I got a weird feeling and turned to look behind me. He was running full tilt at me. It was absolutely terrifying. I knew my knee was too bad to run, so I just tried to stay calm and kept walking. I hoped to make it to the bus. He, of course, caught me quite easily, and convinced me to come back. I was too scared to say no, so I went...but in my heart it was over between us. I worked 20 hours a week, went to my special crazy hard high school, then came home to a guy who barely noticed me except when he wanted sex, food that made me too sick to sleep, waaay too much alcohol,, and a baby I cared for (his brothers) because no one else would hold him when he cried. I don't think I had slept in a month.

Tom and me. (see? I had another shirt...sorta...)

Yeah, my 16 year old ass was done with this much older asshole.

18 year old me wasn't sure of him either. Back then I didn't think it was rape, but 40 year old me thinks it may have been. Did I want to have sex with him then? I have no idea now. I don't believe I had a choice either way, regardless.

And now I was pregnant.

And I had to tell him.

I did so in a public place, because I was scared. Just scared in general. He was a mostly nice guy, when he noticed me.

He surprised me by dropping to his knees and putting his hands on my stomach, promising to be there for us no matter what. He didn't ask me if I was sure it was his...he knew I didn't get around much. So that was a point for him. Everything else though? That was all show. I so very much wanted it to be in earnest, but I knew in my heart it was an act.

This was proven over the next 6 months. I asked if he wanted to get an apartment together. We even went to go see one. I let my hopes get up a little...but they were dashed when he decided no. I reminded him we would have separate rooms and lives...but he didn't want to live together. I then suggested 2 different apartments in the same complex? I thought it was a dumb waste of money that could be used towards our child...but he said no to that as well. I said...same neighborhood? He said no. I gave him every opportunity to be in my baby's life, which he said he wanted, but he just kept turning me down.

Then I found out he was dating 13 year old, the old creepy bastard. He finally settled with a 16 year old (he was 26). I gave up, and just let him do his thing. I didn't know what else to do.

Regardless of his wishy washy crap, I actually HAD to move. Can't raise a baby I a shitty scorching apartment that smelled like cheese! I was searching for a new place when I was fired by my boss. Why? Because I was pregnant. I promised her I could still do the job...but that wasn't the problem. The problem was I was not with the father anymore. It didn't matter that I was abandoned by him. No...I was a whore because the father of my baby left me. So I was no longer fit to work in a Christian establishment.

Fucking. Wow. Thanks guys. (This was a theme in my life- being utterly failed by every organized religion)

So I moved into an apartment complex for single mothers. I was given about $150 in money every month, $200 in food stamps, and WIC coupons. No rent was expected since I had no job...however, all of my money would be managed by an outside source, and I would be expected to go to parenting and how to get married classes. This on top of college classes, and my growing desperation for a support system.

I settled into my new apartment, and took the classes very seriously...even the condescending ones that treated us like morons. I even joined extra classes, and found that I could get paid to not have sex. Sounds good to me!

I hadn't figured out how to tell my dad yet when my college classmates found a way to do it for me. My step mom was pissed, and tried to get me to have an abortion. What a nice Mormon lady, huh? My dad was disappointed but didn't have much to say.

At 6 months pregnant I joined the Catholic Charities program and they helped me out a ton. They connected me with Vanessa Behan, who helped me even more. Not only did they have the best parenting class I'd ever been to, they gave me a job stuffing envelopes 5 hours a week!

As I got bigger, and less able to do things for myself, Tom became less involved. He would come over sometimes, but he would not help me go shopping, cook, or rub my aching swollen feet. He claimed it wasn't his job. Ok, fine then fuckface! I would think at him.

My mother was an unhelpful psycho, and loved to pick me up for errands then leave me stranded 20 miles from home with no money...so that was awesome.

Tom's mom wanted to be a part of things, but she was a psycho too, threatening to take my baby away if I went out with friends or even thought about trying to fix my bum knee. She also apparently raised a pedophile, so no thanks.

My grandma came from Wisconsin to take care of me around my due date, which was amazing. She cooked and shopped and cleaned so I could care for myself then my baby.

I woke very early one morning, and knew it was time. I lay there, feeling the contractions slowly get stronger, until heard my grandma wake up. I told her that it was time, and she called my mom (the only one who had a car). Mom came and insisted we go out for waffles first! I said no thank you, I just wanted to go to the hospital. They could drop me off and go out after?

So I'm sitting in the waffle restaurant, refusing to order. A pushy but well meaning waitress wanted to get me something, anything. I told her I was in labor and had no intention of eating. My mom orders me a half a waffle I don't eat.

An hour later I am finally at the hospital. I am glad to be there they pop my waters as soon as I am settled, and I get ready for a needlessly long labor that is true to my red hair (we have babies differently, in case you didn't know).

I say needlessly long because it went on until 6 that night, with no drugs, and my mom being annoying and wanting attention, and Tom bringing is 16 year old girlfriend, and the nurse wanting me to lay on my side...it was just a lot of annoying. Finally, I lay on my side and my little girl is born 7 minutes later.

Smart nurse! I should have listened to her...

(Here is where I would love to say how my world changed as soon as I saw my daughter. It was much like the scene in Waitress when her daughter was born, actually. I suddenly knew what real love was, and my determination to be a good mother was tripled...I would say all of that, but I don't want to be accused of being manipulating or whatever. Things are currently still very bad with Lynn, and I am terrified of making it worse. Even saying this makes me scared I will upset her or someone. I should just quit...)

My mom made the nurses move me to many different rooms for some reason. I just wanted to be left alone with my kid. I wanted the circus to pack up and move.

My benevolent and magnanimous grandmother kicked everyone out of the hospital "because hospitals are for rest, not entertaining company!", and I was blissfully alone with my beautiful dream, my baby Lynn. My dad came in for a short visit, and I buried that short and sweet visit with the rest of my comforting memories.

The nurses took my kiddo from me, and I couldn't sleep. I asked for her until they finally brought her back, and we slept through the whole morning. I woke feeling like a terrible mother since I hadn't fed her yet, and the nurses had to calmly explain that if I am not ignoring her while she cries, it's fine. They showed me how she was soundly asleep, and therefore not hungry.

I was left alone with Lynn in this huge room for the rest of the day. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom, but couldn't manage it with my baby on my chest. I called a nurse for help, but she refused to take the baby so I could get up. Slowly but surely I managed to not drop my baby on the hard floor while my shaking arms and legs did there best to move for me. I got her to her bassinets, then took a dozen painful steps to the bathroom while the nurse glared at me. What's this jerk lady's problem! I can barely stand, just fucking help!

I did it by myself in the end. Maybe that's what the nurse wanted? I don't know, but I hated that bitch all the same. Don't risk my babies life to my shaky arms!

They had me stay another night, probably because i kept shaking, and I went home the next day. My grandma stayed a few days to make sure i was ok, then went back home. I swear I took pictures of her and Lynn, but both she and my mom swear it didn't happen. That makes me so sad...

Here is Great-grandma with Lynn and Kelsie, years later.

I still had school to go to, so I would leave my kiddo at Vanessa Behan's and go. I did ask my mom, but she said no. Mom wouldn't even come over to spend time with me and watch her for 5 minutes while I switched out the laundry. Tom wasn't interested either, but he DID tell people I wouldn't let him see his daughter so I lost all my friends. So kind of him.

I struggled with school, work, classes, and parenting, though parenting came easiest. I towed the line, jumped the hoops, avoided the obstacles, and was finally able to manage my own money and drop the amount of times official's came to make sure I wasn't being a bad mom. They came every day at first. Exhausting! But somewhat helpful.

Tom and his mom were a problem. I had to find my way up there at least once a week o he could see her. He only changed two diapers her whole life (put them BOTH ON BACKWARDS TOO. Why don't dads have to take parenting classes but moms do? Stupid.). He was only interested in her when there was a camera around. Other than that he just wanted my attention.

Fuck you, guy. I gave you several chances and you said no. Leave me alone.

Toms mom was nuts about her. It was creepy but I tried to let them have a relationship. I remember poor Tyler, the baby no one would care for, and didn't want to leave her alone to that...so on sleepover nights I slept on the couch. Sure enough, Tom, his mom, EVERYONE ignored Lynn while she slept, so I would go down to Tom's room, pick her up, and sleep with her on the couch at night. On HIS nights. It was insane.

He stopped coming for his visits, but the court order said I had to keep those nights available for him. I still brought Lynn up to see him, but he ignored her.


I trusted my mom for rides a few more times, but she left me and my newborn baby stranded on the side if the road, 10 miles from home, on the day of the first snow...so yeah that was over.

My single mom program was coming to an end, so I had to move. They wanted those apartments to rent to people who Mattered or had money now. So I moved to felony flats. I was given housing as a parting gift, which was good because I also had to quit my Vanessa Behan job (it had turned into 20 hours a week secretarial, too) since I could no longer walk there.

There were a ton of single moms at the new place, and I even made some friends. My new place was even a whopping 777 square foot apartment! I got this big place because I was nice and gave up my spot for another mother who was homeless...and this huge place came up next!

Of course, it was still a shitty apartment. Just bigger than any I'd had before. There were even holes in the walls going outside...so I guess that would be my room. Lynn can have the one with no holes.

Catholic Charities was only a mile walk away, and I landed a spot in the daycare for the kiddo, then got a job at the Salvation Army family homeless shelter just across the parking lot! It was a pretty good situation. I still tried to go to school, and I did pretty well considering. Lynn still had to come with me sometimes though.

I wanted a better life for her, and I would do anything to get it.

Tom wasn't paying child support very often. He wasn't coming over. I wasn't able to bring lynn over, even though my dad helped me buy a car. I had a child to raise alone, and money to earn to do it. No time to go see an asshole who didn't even notice we stopped coming.

Besides, he was always with his child bride (yeah, he married her), and they would make me take family photos with her holding my daughter...can you even IMAGINE!? I wouldn't mind so much if either one of them actually helped me, I would be thrilled! However, their involvement was as flat as the photos they posed for.

I decided it was best to do it the legal way, and I petitioned for removal of visitation days. I didn't want to take away his visitation... I just didn't want to keep Saturdays and Wednesdays free for someone who hadn't come in a year. So I changed it to say he can see her any time he wants, he just has to call first. I thought it was fair.

I also put in that if he hasn't used his visitation in by the time she's 5, the parenting plan is void and he gets no court ordered visitation. I thought a lot about that. It was best for Lynn if she didn't spend her whole life waiting for someone to come, feeling hurt every time he didn't show. No thanks.

He decided to fight me on it, probably because his mom was mad, so off to court we went. I was scared. I know courts aren't nice to single moms, especially ones "trying to take away visitation", even though I wasn't.

I got lucky again right before court, and was able to talk to Tom alone. I'm the 'the fuck are you doing, bro?' And he's like 'I dunno bro' and I'm like bro? And he's like bro...

So Tom decides to give me what I want. He understands why it's important to us. He tells the judge so...and the judge is PISSED he says fine, but then yells at ME. He says that I should force Tom and Lynn together. That if Lynn goes without food or a diaper change for a weekend, it wot kill her. That the relationship is what's important, and it's somehow MY job to make sure they have one.

I am 100% sure he would have taken custody away from me if he could have.


Still I was shaking after that judge. What a close call! Like I would force Lynn on Tom, knowing she'd be neglected? I could have used help raising her...but not enough to force someone to abuse her? Weird.

So our life became somewhat less complicated. I mean...Toms mom threatened to sue me for grandparents rights because I was rethinking knee surgery and was using Vanessa Behan, which sucked. My mom decided she was interested in being a grandma to my daughter, and brought her crazy act to my door. Being grandma wasn't enough for her, and she told me she wanted to be Lynn's mom instead. I had to literally push her out of my apartment more than once. I had a friend come stay with me for a while but she refused to clean up after herself or help with food or babysit...then left when I asked her to do dishes once, then did something inexcusable with a man who ended up abusing me and taking away the 2nd love of my life...I'll tell you about that last one later...

We were poor, but relatively happy.. Tom helped financially very rarely, and just ignored her until she was 10 or so. (My creepy meter went off, knowing his attraction to prepubescent teens...but that's also a story for another time.)

I continued college, parenting classes, and worked where and when I could. Life wasn't easy, but my daughter was worth any hardship. I wanted to do right by her, give her a happy loving home, even if it was just a family of 1. Breaking the cycle of crazy abuse was my #1 priority. I needed to be better. I was all she had, so I had to be everything she needed. Still, I never stopped looking for someone who could be my village. My daughter should have someone other than me. It's not fair for her.

Pretty much everyone who watched my daughter was just terrible, however. I wonder how people can be so awful to kids. I left a friend alone with Lynn for 5 minutes, coming back because I forgot my purse, and the "friend" had taken the pajamas off my daughter, opened the window of her room (in the middle of winter), turned off the lights, and shut my 1 year old in this dark, cold room. Insane, right? My family didn't do much better, leaving her with strangers, in dangerous situations, bringing her back hungry, tired, covered in feces, and being yelled at my whoever was watching her. I don't even want to get into how many of the people around me turned out to be pedophiles...it's disgusting...

Yeah...I was all alone with this parenting business.

Tom had all my friends, Lori had taken most of my family, and everyone who was left only wanted a piece of me.

If I had to boil down this time in my life to one or two things, it would be how hard I had to work for things that seemed to come easy to everyone else, and how easy it was for the people who said they loved and cared for me to throw me away like trash. Sure, maybe I didn't reach out to others as much as I could, and maybe I could have done more to clear my name and advocate for myself... but just graduating High School alive was almost more than I could accomplish! I just had no time and energy to do anything other than focus on being a mother and ignore everything else.

Another firend who left me when I needed him most...but I was his mattress for a while so I guess it worked out for him?

I was so desperately alone, and exhausted, and jaded by humanity.

I had it in my head that I would only live to be 25 or so. My days were numbered. I believe that's what helped me get through this difficult time (that and being determined to give my daughter a good life). There was an end to this bleak suffering, and it was coming soon.

I even found a nice home for my daughter to live in after I was gone. It made me happy to know that another single mother, one I grew to trust, would be able to take care of her...but I'm getting a little ahead of the story here. I wouldn't meet Heidi for a little while.

At 19, I was just so tired and ready to call it quits. This hand I had been dealt was just too much. Only my desire to care for my daughter made anything worth while. Motherhood gave me a reason to live when I did not ask for, nor seek out, such a reason.

I forgot myself, forgot that I mattered, forgot that I had needs and desires of my own.

Sometimes, I wonder if I really did die back then.

Wouldn't that be something?


About the Creator

Guenneth Speldrong

Hello there. I write things. Sometimes good things. Mostly, I write to find myself. If I can entertain you in the process, then that's just the derivative icing on the proverbial cake!

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