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How do I tell people I'm pregnant when I said I never wanted kids?

Some women dream of their child, the name, the sex, long before they even meet the partner they make their baby with. That's not me — I have always felt a selfish twinge when picturing myself having biological children. My friends had children, my half-sister did, and it felt good and right for them. See, the ten years I spent so vocal about not wanting to bear children, people smiled condescendingly and told me, "Just wait," muttering something about a clock. I didn't suddenly freak out and then came baby, more the other way around.

I'm a happy teen mom. I know, right?!?

I do believe some of my struggles directly deal with my age. I was a first-time mom at 17 and am on my way to having a second before I turn 20. Shit is sure to follow. I occasionally get eyeballed during toddler playgroups and sometimes blatantly questioned about my age by curious mothers. It really isn't that big of a deal, though. The only time that ever bothers me is if it's followed by sympathy or straight-up negativity — it just seems silly to me. Could you imagine asking a mother her age and then apologizing for it?

Are we protecting our kids from the right things?

Parents don't want their kids to make unpopular choices out of a feeling of love. And also, mostly, a feeling of fear. We love our kids and we want to protect them. We're actually required to protect them. It's part of our job as parents. However, we have the equally important job of deciding what to protect our children from.

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No, that's not my daughter: how being a sister prepared me for motherhood

Sometime in 8th grade I went to the store with my mom and my youngest sister, AJ. I remember people watching the three of us walking through the store with quizzical looks. They would look first at my mom, then to me, then to AJ, then back to me. Finally, as we made our way through the checkout, the cashier looked at me and said "Your daughter is so cute," then back to my mother and finished "You are a lucky grandma!" I stared, my 14-year-old self feeling completely embarrassed and horrified, as my mom calmly answered, "Actually, I'm the mom. They are both mine."

Let's ditch the "one size fits all" model of parenting

Like life, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Maybe it's the idealist in me, but on this front I'm pretty much middle of the road on the stuff that seems to make parents pull out knives on each other. I don't understand the obsession we seem to have, or at least that the media thrusts upon us, with tar and feathering one another. My motto is: make sure you're educated, informed, evaluate your life and circumstances, and then get to the business of doing what works best for you and yours.