We’ve all said, “My mom is going to KILL ME!” at least a few dozen times in our lives. When I carved my initials on a piece of furniture, when I broke a beloved Christmas decoration, when I got a C in Algebra… I was sure my death was imminent. I was the baby—the one who had the most to live up to. My oldest brother was the star athlete, my middle siblings were both brilliant with perfect scores on their ACTs, and then there was me. Average, mediocre, nothing special–me. I mean sure, I could ride my bike with no hands and talk like a chipmunk, but that didn’t earn me any awards or college scholarships. We were expected to be brilliant, responsible, gifted. Everyone knew how great my parents were by how great their children were, and if I was anything less than “great” I felt like the black sheep.
Then, it happened. The worst thing I could have done. The moment when I was absolutely certain my mom was going to kill me. I was pregnant at the age of 16. So many thoughts rattled through my head: How on earth did this happen? I mean, I knew how it happened, but why? I was not promiscuous like so many of the girls at school… I had only had sex one time with my long-time boyfriend… Then I thought, maybe if I ignore it, it will go away. It didn’t. It grew. I grew. I lost weight. I became depressed. I withdrew from friends and family. Three months ticked by. Christmas came and went. I knew I would have to tell my mom at some point, but how? How would she react? Would she kick me out of the house? Would she send me off to live with some relative somewhere? My imagination went wild.
On a cold, quiet morning just after Christmas, my mom came into my bedroom and asked what was going on. Nothing, I persisted. She began questioning me about drugs, school, and then the question—“Are you pregnant?” I darted my eyes away and emphatically said, “no!” I must not have been convincing. She went to the store and came home with a pregnancy test. She gently handed it to me and motioned for me to go to the bathroom to take it. I knew what it was going to say, but I hoped in my heart that it would be negative.
We both watched as two pink lines popped up on the stick. I held my breath. This was it. The biggest disgrace. I had brought dishonor to my family and my worst fears were about to come true. I held my head down and waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I mustered the courage to make eye contact with her. Her face was not what I expected. Instead of anger, shame and tension, her eyes were full of love and grace. And tears. She hugged me and we wept. We grieved the loss of my innocence. The loss of my childhood.
In the days and weeks that followed, my mom loved me in a way that I never dreamt possible. She defended me to angry family members; she let me make big decisions for myself as if I were an adult; and she encouraged me that all of my dreams for my life were still within reach—and she would be there to support and encourage me no matter what I decided. For the first time, in a very long time, I prayed. I asked God for wisdom and guidance. There were so many people in our family who wanted to tell me what to do and I was so lost it seemed easy to just pick one of their options and go with it. But, with the encouragement from my mom and peace from God I was able to make the best decision for me and the life growing inside of me.
At the end of my sophomore year, I gave birth to a perfect baby boy. And just like my mom had promised, my dreams were within reach. I graduated, with honors, and on time. I went to college. I made a career for myself. I found an amazing husband and we added a beautiful little girl to our family. My son will be 22-years-old in June. He’s a healthy, smart, college student with big dreams of his own. If I have learned one thing from my mother… and if there’s one thing I want to pass on to my children… it’s love and grace. My mom showed me that her love was unconditional—that there was nothing I could ever do that would separate me from her love. And she showed me grace when I needed it most. I pray that my children will be able to say the same thing about me someday.