My family has recently discovered that my 16-year-old sister is pregnant. This has made life interesting to say the least. I live at home with her, my mom, and my boyfriend of five years. We all have a lot of questions and almost no answers. Every day, I feel pity for her, but I also feel anger and some form of resentment that I am often ashamed of. I constantly ask myself, “How could she do this?” But, I know that it’s too late for that sort of thinking. Now, we need to focus on what to do.
I’m 22 and have spent the past few years of my life defining who I am, getting to know myself, and getting to know and love my boyfriend. Family is extremely important to me, yet I am not excited about what’s happening around me. I feel confused about what I am supposed to do and where I’m supposed to go. We live in a small house that’s already bursting at the seams and adding in more people and more stuff is a stressful thought to me. My mom is upset, but being that this will be her first grandchild she’s also trying to hide her excitement. I feel like such a downer because I’m trying to be realistic.
I confided in my mom the fears that I have about having the baby around — the fear that my room will be needed and this little birdie will have to leave mom’s nest way ahead of schedule. I’m terrified. We all had plans that are being thrown out of the window. My mom retires in a few months and was supposed to move back in with her aging mother to take care of her. In turn, my boyfriend and I would rent the house from her and take care of my sister while she went through school. I would stay here in my home, with my herd of animals that I love and would have to give up if I had to move. Now, everyone is staying. No space is being added and more is being taken away and I feel that I am suffocating with stress and worry.
I told my mom that I didn’t think I could live here with my little sister and help her raise her child. I don’t feel that either of us is ready for that kind of responsibility — after all, I’m still trying to start up my career life. My mom also told me that if she had to choose a child to tend to the family and its subsequent children it would be me.
I’m not ready for a baby, nor those responsibilities, and I am certainly not prepared to raise my sister’s child. But what can I do? I have responsibilities as a sister. I can’t imagine trying to watch my little sister — who is much more interested in maternity clothes than baby supplies — try to do this on her own. I can’t even imagine the fear that she is feeling: sixteen years old and she’s about to become a single parent.
I watched my mom struggle to raise us without my dad around and I knew I never wanted to face that burden. I never wanted to have children with “Mr. Wrong.” Being a big sister is tough stuff, especially when you’re terrified yourself. So I’m trying to bring my household to my level. I keep bringing in baby toys and putting them in my sister’s room. I ask her where she’s going to put the crib. And I was horrified to hear “In Mom’s room” as her reply. I don’t feel like it’s fair. My mom deserves a break. My little sister deserves the time she needs to mature and grow without it directly affecting another being. I feel that she needs to have the chance to make a few more mistakes in her life before having to devote it to caring for a child.
With every week that goes by I fear seeing my little sister like I used to see my mom, alone in an uphill battle against the odds of the world. My mother is an incredible woman with an amazing balance between strength and heart, but it took years of being the “underdog” to become that way. Is that the road my baby sister faces? Will I again stand to the side unable to offer much help at all?
The more I think about it, the more I feel like she won’t. My mom was alone with no one on her side. My little sister is not alone. Because, no matter how scared I am that even I am not ready, I will always be here for her. This tiny home will fit one more and when she needs help, I’ll be one door over. And while she’s trying on maternity clothes I will be stocking up on toys and baby supplies because I know that in the end, being an aunt is going to be the best job ever.