“Will the defendant please rise? You are hereby sentenced to life in prison for the crime of premarital sex.” Those were the words I heard the ultrasound technician say instead of, congratulations you’re pregnant.” Then and there I felt like a prisoner on death row. My life flashed before my eyes and the doors of opportunity slammed shut before me. Bound by deceit and shackled by shame, I was escorted to a cell full of stereotypes and statistics. Instead of bread and water I was force-fed disappointment and failure.

Nervous and uneasy I was up for parole. Wearing a shirt of iniquity and pants of despair, I found myself walking past a panel of people that stared at me with dismay and ridicule. I was denied parole. I didn’t meet society’s approval and could not be validated. My merit was irrelevant and time served was ineligible.

The warden comes in to torture me. He’s disguised as a teacher, relative, or even a friend. “Teen Parent” he yells, as he beats down my pride and self esteem. “Why can’t I just be a parent? I am just like that robin that takes care of her young. Motherhood should be based on love and nurturing, not by months and years,” I mutter. The next lash consists of silent attitudes and snickers.

The prisoners of envy, prejudice, and hatred put me down by saying. “that’s why you have a kid.” I sit alone in my cell realizing my debt to society will never be paid in full. I was determined to be free. Equipped with knowledge to quench my thirst, ambition as my guide, and truth for support, I decided to escape. For what seemed like an eternity of struggles, a mountain of proof, and a glimmer of hope, I finally dug my way to freedom. Accomplishment dripped from my face as confidence glared in my eyes, I was ready to face the world as a person acquitted of all charges. My only possessions being a spoon of education, a pen of remorseful ink, and a bag of self-worth, I was ready for the challenge of being a model citizen.

Pride hid my face and independence shielded my body, even then some recognized the scent of a felon on me. I was marked as an outcast and set aside as a failure. I found myself excluded and degraded. Preconceptions and inadequacies accompanied me. I often sat wondering was my crime such an unspeakable act? Everything I deemed as triumphant was dissected and challenged.

My son knew not of my crime and loved me just the same. Will I have to spend the rest of my life with my decisions on trial and anticipating failure? Being a teen parent is like being a criminal, because the decision I made yesterday affects everything I do and who I AM today.

Although I moved from Teen Mother to Entrepreneur, these words still ring true today!