Shame, Revisited

After posting a blog last Thursday (9/11/08) about “shame,” I got this response from a reader:

I grew up in a Roman Catholic family.  I attended parochial school, and I also became pregnant at 17.  I was shamed and ostracized for what I had done, but I have to say that the “shaming” I received from my family and community actually led me back onto the right track.

I completed my high school diploma by attending school in the morning, and I began college at night (I was admitted to a local university because I was an honor student in my high school).  I attended college with 30 and 40 year-olds!  Ultimately, I graduated college and became a Certified Public Accountant. 

This was a difficult path, and I recommend it to no one.  I sacrificed much:  my young adulthood.  I did not do the things other kids my age did.  I took care of my baby, I studied, and I cleaned houses.  Although I was ashamed of becoming pregnant so young and out-of-wedlock, I loved my child more than life itself, and I always placed my child’s needs before mine.  I did not “party.”  I did not hang out with friends.  I did not do things just for myself, and most of all, I did not whine.

I don’t think most teens are capable of this, and most babies are probably better off being placed for adoption.  I had my family’s help – I was not tossed onto the streets, but my parents’ expectations were high, and “I” was my child’s caregiver (not my mom).  I was the one up at night with my sick baby.  I was the one who took him to the park and the doctor’s office, and I was the one he came to depend on most.

 I have been happily married now for many years to a man I am so blessed to have as my husband.  I have three beautiful children.  I have chosen to stay home with my younger kids and not work outside of the house.  I ALWAYS hated to leave my oldest child and felt tremendous guilt when I headed off to school for the day or to clean houses.

 It’s an absolute treasure to be a stay-at-home mom.  My job in life now is to provide a warm home environment, and to be there for my hubby and kids.  By the way, the baby boy I had at 17 is now an honor student at [a major university], and quite a wonderful young man.  To this day, I still feel remorse that my oldest did not have the same childhood as my other two kids.  I feel I cheated him, and I suppose I always will.