It’s that time of year where I should be preoccupied with getting my taxes done and celebrating the Seahawks winning the Superbowl. Instead I find myself thinking about those gals of Teen Mom 2. I have a special place for them in my heart. During my first pregnancy, I was on bed rest, forced to just watch reality television all day. What better way to prep myself for the months to come than by watching a 16 and Pregnant marathon on MTV. I clearly remember a specific episode, a 15 year old girl was yelling in agony, screaming bloody murder, and crying out in the worst pain during her labor and giving birth. That was a stupid, stupid thing to watch at 8 months pregnant. Stupid, stupid. My husband was adamant that I would have an easier time, that I was tough, that I wasn’t some little, wimpy 15 year old. As a tired, hormonal, preggo hot mess, you fear the worst though. Mantra: “women have been doing this for centuries, women have been doing this for centuries, OMG, OMG, OMG… chill out, and remember women have been doing this for centuries.” The marathon was how MTV reeled me in. I was formally introduced to Jenelle, Kailyn, Leah, and Chelsea, and I was ready for Teen Mom 2. They girls provided me with entertainment until the birth of my daughter. I loved me a weekly dose of teen angst, dramatic break-ups, and youthful train wrecks. But as much as I loved the drama, I felt a deep sense of sadness. Not only was I sad for the babies, which I’m sure everyone feels, but I felt much compassion for these young girls and their futures. I look at my own life, and I’m so happy I got to be a teenager, got to have fun in my 20’s, and fully appreciated the moments of my pregnancies in my 30’s. But these girls are going to miss out on this greatness. They are destined to be frommies.
“What is a frommy?”
A frommy is a friend-mommy. The frommy is the 30-something mom who is hanging out with her teen and teen’s high school friends, buying them hard alcohol and getting wasted with them in her basement. The frommy is the 30-something mom that loves to have her son’s friends over so she can wear her revealing top and get her flirt on. The frommy is the 30-something mom that takes her daughter to a One Direction concert and gushes over Harry Styles more than the daughter. Everybody has had their run-in’s with a frommy. They are easy to judge, but this is not fair. I believe when teenage pregnancy occurs, often the mother’s (and sometimes the father’s too) emotional development gets stunted at the age she had her child. What happens psychologically is the frommy misses out on her ability to individuate as a teenager is supposed to do. Further, this young adult does not aspire into an independent being with a positive self-identity. She instead becomes enmeshed with her baby, maybe co-dependent even, and as this baby grows she is unable to differentiate herself, and so she lives the young adult/teenage lifestyle with her child as a peer instead of parent.
Now not every teen mom is a frommy, and not every frommy was a teen mom. I know successful women who were teen moms, and they amaze me. Natural goddesses. I don’t know how I could have survived being a teen mom knowing how selfish and self-absorbed (developmentally appropriate) I was at that age. I have much compassion for you teen moms of the past and present.
Most importantly, I have to say that Dr. Drew is an A-hole. Jenelle is clearly destined to be the frommy partying with Jace, or at best, in recovery, yet still chain-smoking, as her teen son defends her because she is domestically abused by different partners she brings into his life. Chelsea will be the frommy that is charged with having sex with a minor (after constant rejection from Adam) when one of Aubree’s friends from high school sets his sights to catch a MILF. Leah’s frommihood will be less toxic, but she will find her identity in being the mom that everyone likes and is always hanging out with Ali and Aleeah’s teen friends instead of adults. And Kailyn will have such a hard time saying “no” to Isaac, that he will be out doing drugs, landing himself in juvie, getting his own teenage girlfriend pregnant, all while Kailyn minimizes all of his behaviors and blames someone else, but at least she has a full-time job as a medical assistant and has some adult friends in her life. And Dr. A-hole Drew sits in his chair at the end of every season portraying a man who cares. He speaks in a soft tone, with a dramatic expression of concern on his face, stating what he knows the audience wants to hear. If he was concerned, he would instead help these girls acquire the emotional skills they need to deal with their hardships. He would not be on a show that exploits these girls and their children. He would say that it’s “unethical” to let these girls lives’ continue to be examples for America in MTV’s so-called campaign against teen pregnancy. Dr. Drew you’re a dick.
I haven’t kept up on the different seasons of Teen Mom 2, but I see the ads, I hear the headlines, and I still feel sad. Hopefully I’m making their lives better by not watching.