Posted by Prymface on Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Occasionally you put words into a search box and there listed in front of you is exactly what you always needed. Years of randomly googling 'teenage pregnancy', not really sure of what it was I was looking for, one day resulted in the discovery of the answer: Tracy Engelbrecht
Tracy got pregnant at 14 (nearly 15!). She is smart, articulate, funny, humble, honest, proud, assertive, passionate, good-at-putting-systems-in-place and gorgeous! She tells her story without sounding like she belongs on either Oprah or Jeremy Kyle - a skill that is difficult to master - believe me. I needed to know more....
Tracy kindly sent me her book - all the way from South Africa to England. She had ironically scribbled a message in the front page about me being inspiring! Bless her!
I read the book in 24 hours - I knew I would - I gobbled up each page, eager to know more and more. I wanted to compare our lives. I looked for clues that I could relate to as to why we both became teenage parents. Was it the not so genuine Doc Martins at school!? Was it being the quiet rebel with lots to say but not liking to upset those in authority! I mulled over our differences. Before she became pregnant, she always felt like something was missing-I didn't remember feeling like this but I sat in that weekend while my school reunion took place down the road. I later looked at the photos posted on facebook and felt strangely detached-maybe I always had. She was also secretly excited and confident while she was pregnant despite her age. I didn't remember feeling like this at all, then this week I bumped into someone I hadn't seen since college. She remembered me bringing in my baby scan at 13 weeks and showing it round the canteen proudly. It made me sad that I couldn't even remember this.
Maybe I'm still learning more about me, who I was then - the bits I forgot - Yes, I am terribly and embarrassingly self-obsessed. It's OK - I know!
Ultimately though, this story is someone else's, someone who happens to have been a teenage mum. But my experiences allow me to take away a hugely important message from her story: Follow your instincts - when others tell you you can't do it, that you'll fail, or what you're doing isn't important, don't let them make you doubt yourself. No one is perfect - everyone is learning. It's not OK for someone to take away from you that feeling that you're doing OK.
To reaffirm; Tracy Engelbrecht - You're doing OK - MUCH more than OK! Thanks for helping other mums feel like this too.
P.s. This book is also a must-read for any single mum or any working mum - or anyone who just likes a good story with funny bits in.
P.p.s. I hope Tracy doesn't mind my stealing this paragraph!
"Do you know how much time I've wasted obsessing over what people thought of me, staggering under the weight of the giant chip on my shoulder-so tightly wound, always on my best behaviour, because you never know who might be watching and making notes for the Bumper Compendium of Bad Mothers. I'm sure living on cigerettes, vodka and Big Macs for thirteen years would have been healthier option than spending all that time dissecting every look, every inflection in every word, even those of perfect strangers - people I'd never see again, scrutinising every move from every angle until pretty soon you forget what you're looking for, or looking at. I should have a bleeding stomach ulcer by now."
Tracey Engelbrecht - reader, writer, thinker, mom, all-round-lovely-person!
Tags: stereotypes voice book tracyengelb
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