‘I was pregnant. Talk about the craziest 9 months of my 16-year-old life. My life changed overnight. I found out I was pregnant in May, days after my sophomore year ended.’

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“9 YEARS AGO already. I seriously thought I had life figured out. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do, who I was, and where I wanted to be in life. I was that girl who thought she had it all and could do it all. Well…I was 16, so none of that was true. Looking back now, what it really was, was me hanging out with the wrong crowd doing the wrong things, being a person that, well quite frankly, I’m glad I am not anymore.

2009 was the year. The year I HAD to grow up. The year it wasn’t about me anymore. This was the year I had to figure it out and figure it out NOW. I was pregnant. Talk about the craziest 9 months of my 16-year-old life. My life literally changed overnight. I found out I was pregnant in May, days after my sophomore year ended.

Pregnant teen smiling in school gymnasium
Courtesy of Molly Shelton

I don’t know who that summer was harder on – me or my parents. I can tell you a few things I learned from that summer. 1. Who my real friends were. 2. Who I ACTUALLY wanted to be. 3. There is nothing sexy about being pregnant at 16. And to add on to that, these were the years that periods were still a little embarrassing and sex was something we still giggled at (but it wasn’t a giggling matter anymore), although, I did feel like I handled it well. I didn’t let much of what everyone was saying about me get to me. Also, if you want to see friends come out of the woodwork, get pregnant at 16. You have friends you don’t even know and enemies you thought were your friends.

Pregnant teen standing beside her cheerleader friends
Courtesy of Molly Shelton

I have always been a confident person on the outside, but if you want to see insecurities… gain 80 pounds (no joke) at 16. That’ll bring your confidence down a tad! This summer brought worries that many 16-year old’s don’t have to think about. Will I be able to be everything this little boy needs? Will I ever be able to provide and give him what I had hoped to be able to do for my children? Will his life be as happy and full of life as every other little boy? Will people feel bad for him because his mom is so young? Will I find a man who wants to be a part of both of our lives? The list goes on and on.

Pregnant teen sitting in locker room while cheerleaders touch her stomach
Courtesy of Molly Shelton

2010 it was time. January 10th, 2010, Ryker Allen Shelton made his appearance into the world. Hands down the SCARIEST day ever. I remember getting ready to leave the hospital and breaking down in tears thinking… ‘Can I just stay? Can I just stay at the hospital forever and they just help me take care of this little boy that I am so scared I am going to break? My body is doing some freaking crazy things I knew nothing about. Someone please let me stay.’ But we made it home and survived our first night. Want to know what was even better than the hospital staff? My parents. Thank the freaking Lord for them! Still to this day, thank God for my Mom and Dad! There is no way in hell I would have made it through the first night home with Ryker. Heck, I wouldn’t have made it through the last 8 years without them.

Teen lays in hospital bed looking at her newborn she holds in her arms
Courtesy of Molly Shelton

I still had to finish high school, which I did with flying colors.

Not every year after this was rainbows and butterflies. I still had go to college and make a life while being a fantastic mom (because God knows everyone judges every move you make as a 16-year-old mom). Let’s add one side note there. I want to make it very clear that never in my life have I been a perfect mom. Not at 17, and still not at 25. And I can put money on that the 43-year-old moms aren’t perfect either. So everyone just breath and be a mom (period)! I made lots of mistakes along the way, I went out too much, I didn’t parent the ‘right way,’ I needed to go to college, I needed to work, but also be there every second of every day for my child. Living up to everyone else’s standards of what I needed to be as a mom for so long, I think is what ultimately got me to the mind set I am at right now and it took me almost 6 years (of hell) to get here. Because I was constantly trying to please everyone I let have an opinion about mine and Ryker’s life. So my mindset now is… I AM EXACTLY WHAT MY KIDS NEED, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I am now a proud mama to two boys who are my everything, I am a licensed real estate agent with a part time hustle in Younique makeup. I have worked my butt off to be where I am today, and am so DAMN proud of it.

I wanted to tell this story… one, because I haven’t. And two, because I wanted to let you guys know that no matter what season in life you are in right now… it is okay. It will be okay. People, children, opportunities, lessons, they are all put in front of you to teach you something about YOU. They are put in your life to help you grow. I know for a fact, Ryker didn’t need me when I was 16. I NEEDED HIM.”

Young mom smiles in selfie beside her son

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Shelton of Huron, South Dakota. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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