By Contributor Eve Curley (@eveyandIdotcom)
I had a terrible nightmare the other night. Isla was missing. We called the police and they told us they were raiding houses as there had been “child kidnapping” rings. They had grave fears for our child.
I woke sweating, tears rolling down my cheeks, heart racing and went in and checked on my sleeping little girl. She was safe and sound and my worst nightmare wasn’t real. Phew. After tossing and turning I drifted back to sleep only to then have a dream….a good one. My besties and I had been invited to a party, it was in this amazing castle at some exotic location and the Backstreet Boys were there. We giggled and had numerous photos before we partied the night away.
How weird and kooky are dreams…but how terrifying and real are nightmares!!! I’ve got no clue why I had that nightmare followed by that dream the other night, but as always I started “overthinking” life events and situations that mould us into the people we become. And that brought me to reflect and write about an event a friend and I recently hosted by the Brave Foundation in Hobart.
Brave Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit charity that equips those experiencing teenage pregnancy and parenting with resources, referral and education opportunities to facilitate happy, healthy and skilled families over time. Brave Foundation began in 2009, as a result of Founding Director Bernadette Black publishing ‘Brave Little Bear,’ her own story of teenage pregnancy through to becoming the Barnardos Australian Mother of the Year. After the launch of her book, Bernadette would receive emails from many young women facing teenage/unplanned pregnancy in Australia asking where they could finish their secondary schooling and find support where they lived.
I decided not to bring my little 2.5 firecracker to the High Tea event. I could visualise the cupcakes smearing the walls, and plus it was her nap time and Hubby was home.
My friend, who had her bub early in the year, came along with her little girl in tow. We are both not single Mums, nor are we “young” Mums and we were not children born to young Mums ….but we are Mums and parents (reasonably new ones) to two little girls who on the whole have led blessed lives with supportive family and friends.
We were not the parents or Mums the Brave Foundation raise funds and awareness for, but we sure as hell won’t be the ones who turn their backs on those who want support whatever choice they make. We are all in this parenthood gig together, 16 or 40 and if there is one thing this worlds needs in a time of still so much hate, sadness and judgemental bullsh*it…it’s kindness and support.
The beautifully styled High Tea was the “World’s Biggest Baby Shower Launch” and while both of us had the chance to have our own beautiful Baby Showers hosted by our Mums, family and friends, so many new parents and Mums are all alone in pregnancy, birth and parenthood. These are times that should be joyous but they are also the times that even us with loving family and friends and partners sometimes struggle with.
I find it hard to comprehend that some people do it alone. I’ve listened to interviews with founder Bernadette Black over the years in the media. I hadn’t, however, heard from teen Mum Jan Russ who is now an ambassador for Brave. For decades Jan hid the private pain of her story as an unwed Mother in 1965. Her story was heartbreaking, but at the same time brave and uplifting.
It is a common thing these days to talk about ‘birth stories’ especially in the world of ‘Mummy blogging'. We all have different stories, just like we all have different babies and different parenting styles, but when we reflect on our birth stories did we have someone holding our hand? Did we have someone sitting with bated breath waiting for our call? Did we have someone around to make us feel safe through our pregnancy? Did we feel loved? Did we have a safe home with washed baby singlets and a stocked fridge?
Jan didn’t. She was referred to as “one of those girls” while giving birth and basically treated like a piece of rubbish. Jan said “it was a terrible, terrible thing for a single or unwed woman to get pregnant." Part of her role now is to ensure that any young person facing teenage pregnancy knows they aren’t alone and there is support. Thank goodness times have changed, albeit still work to be done, and thank goodness for Bernadette writing Brave Little Bear and making a stand on this issue.
You are probably thinking why I referred to the nightmare/dream sequence above and how that fits in?
- A nightmare in reality is exactly what I had the other night. Something terrible happening to your friends, family or your child. Your WORST nightmare.
- I think “worst nightmare” is how we dramatically describe teenage pregnancy or early parenthood when in actual fact nightmares are much more than that. Whether you are an 18-year-old Mum or a 40-year-old Mum, having children is an amazing life experience and achievement. Let’s not judge, but let’s help those who need it. Let’s turn what could be their nightmare into dreams in the present and future. Teenage pregnancy or parenthood doesn’t and shouldn’t be a nightmare.
- In 1999 I was finishing High School with dreams and aspirations. Being a Mum was not one (well not for a loooong time). Hanging out with the Backstreet Boys (if I’m completely honest) may have been one of those dreams, along with my aspirations in study and career. I was not thinking about pregnancy, birth, Motherhood or parenthood and I was not interested in taking the pretend newborn that cried, weed and pooed home as part of my High School’s Health Education program. I used to dramatically say that being a teen Mum would be my worst nightmare. Life rolled on, I went to parties, studied, partied some more, studied, met my future Husband, studied, travelled, partied some more, moved out of home, built my career, bought a house, got married and BAM I turned 30 and became a parent. I just became a parent at the time in my life I had dreamt to become one and I was lucky.
- Everyone deserves to dream and fulfil their dreams. While hanging with the Backstreet Boys in a castle may have been a bizarre dream, at this time in my life sometimes just “not being an adult” are the things I dream of, and that may well be having a night out with friends (toddler free) “listening to the Backstreet Boys”. Don’t judge me. Nick was my favourite. Dreams are important whatever your age and we will only achieve them with support and sometimes a little bit of guidance.
Disclaimer: I don’t encourage teen pregnancy in the slightest. HECK NO. I want to make it clear that if my daughter fell pregnant or my son became a father at the age of 16 I would most likely faint. I’d cry, I’d probably yell A LOT, I would question my parenting and I probably wouldn’t take the news particularly well…but I would be there and I would be present, I would stay brave, tell them they have choices and I would tell my daughter or son to do the same. I would tell them to have courage, ask for help and not dispel their dreams. I’d say “You’ve got this” and I’m right there with you all the way.
It is important to know that not everyone has this support and unfortunately there are some teenage pregnancies planned for the wrong reasons and this absolutely infuriates me. Some however just need a little extra support as a young parent….. so let’s break the stigma of “babies having babies” and turning our noses up at the young Mum at the supermarket (we’ve all been there and I’ll admit I have). Let’s open our hearts to those who want to further their studies, learn, talk to someone or feel supported in what is an overwhelming time. Heaven forbid a 16-year-old pregnant girl from a Catholic school could be a good Mother and build a career? Well Bernadette is and has.
You can also support the Brave Foundation by throwing a Baby Shower or event and fundraising. Money raised will support a help line, provide educational scholarships and information packs for schools Australia wide.