We are parked outside the motel at the edge of town in my worn-out Honda Accord. It's a sweltering day in May, and our minds are still reeling from being kicked out of our respective parents' homes when they discovered my partner is pregnant.
"So do you want to keep it?"
I look away reluctantly as her words echo through my brain. She had already made it clear that abortion is inconceivable for her, so I recognize quickly that her question is directed squarely at whether or not I would stay with her. My mind races as I slowly wipe the sweat off my forehead. If I stay, there's a tumultuous road ahead, with just a part-time retail job and no place to call home. But if I leave, would I ever look at myself in the mirror with pride, knowing I chose the easy way out? In a moment of resolve, I reach for her hand.
"OK, let's raise our first child".
For young parents, we all have stories to tell. Mine starts at a Motel 6 when I was 19. When people see teen parents, though, there's an automatic negative energy in the air. It's hard to describe the shame and unwarranted judgments we must endure from both strangers and loved ones. We've been called foolish or irresponsible for having kids so young, or too immature to even handle ourselves. Not long ago we watched an older couple stare at us in a grocery store, shaking their heads as we walked past them with our daughter.