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Pregnant, and Holding on to Dreams

She's not in the news with a scholarship to Harvard, but a teen-ager in a relationship with an older man still has hopes.

May 10, 1997|MONIQUE HUIZAR | Monique Huizar is a senior at Inglewood High School. 'Whether it's fair or not that I'll have to stay home and take care of my baby and at the same time struggle to make it through college while he may be out with buddies, it's what makes me happy.'

It's noon, the day of my senior prom. While most of my classmates are taking care of last-minute prom details, I sit in my English class, five months pregnant, thinking about how I'm unable to share with them this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When I first met my boyfriend, I was 17 and he was 25. We got set up on a double date and from then on we continued to see each other. I was thrilled at all the special attention he gave me, but I never took advantage of his generosity by using him for things such as clothes, nails and hairdresser expenses. Our case beat the common stereotype of the younger girl who is after the older guy for materialistic things. It was rather a case of mutual understanding of each other's needs. I knew what a guy his age would want from a girl like me--the feeling of security in knowing he could control a young girl. He knew that I was vulnerable and needed to feel loved and protected. The age difference told it all.

Many people might view this relationship as being unfair for me. This might be true, but I've always considered myself a mature person capable of making responsible decisions.

Issues common to youths--the "he said, she said" rumors; identity through name-brand clothing; being accepted--were never important to me. I've always been like that and, now more than ever, I have to be more responsible. I can no longer stop to think of only my happiness or what is more convenient for me. I have to provide for the well-being of my baby as well.

In a way I'm tying myself down but in another way I'm not. After all, I'm not ready to be with my boyfriend for the rest of my life if it means giving up my happiness, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to maintain the attraction that brought us together in the first place.

We hit it off so well because we got involved in a give and take relationship, where everything I give is compensated through his support.

He saw in me, besides my vulnerability, the traditional qualities of a girl who has only experienced so much. For example, chores at home, schoolwork and my mom's approval all limited my liberty. This meant that I was still far from the lifestyle of a woman who is older and counts on only her own judgment for decisions.

It is difficult dealing with the pressure of such a demanding commitment at a young age. Moreover, there are a lot of disadvantages that come with it. Dealing with my family, for example, is tough on me because I am the older of two daughters and I have two older brothers who are very protective of me. My mom's reaction when I told her about my pregnancy was shock. She was so disappointed in me.

We sat and talked about it after the shock and I was surprised at how angry she was at herself and not so much at me. She said she wished she could have given me so much more than a single parent can offer. Meanwhile, I was fighting off the knot in my throat. Even though it killed me to see my mom like that, I wanted her to realize that I was still the same person, that I am determined to not let anything stop me from having a successful future.

I'm still going to go through with my plans to go to college. My boyfriend was aware of my plans and he gave me a lot of encouragement. Of course, it will take me longer. But I figure that if it's going to get done at the cost of a delay due to my new responsibilities as a mom, then it's worth it because I know I'll be able to count on him, which is what attracted me to him.

Whether it's fair or not that I'll have to stay home and take care of my baby and at the same time struggle to make it through college while he may be out with buddies, it's what makes me happy. Besides, giving things up and assuming certain responsibilities are a part of every relationship. The attitude with which I view relationships makes our problems a lot less important and permits me to worry about what is really important: our future as a successful and happy family.

My boyfriend and I are in agreement about what lies ahead. Our baby will be born in September. I will move in with him at his mother's house as soon as the baby is born. His mother has said she is more than happy to babysit for her son's first baby, but I may delay starting school for a year to be around for the child's first months.

By the fall of 1998, I'm hoping I'll also have a part-time job to help out, but my boyfriend has assumed complete responsibility to provide for us. We have talked about marriage, but we'd rather wait and see how things go rather than rush into it. We still have a lot to learn about each other and until we are financially stable, we won't make any wedding arrangements or expand our family.

This has been an overwhelming experience. I have learned a lot about myself and life in these last four months.

I can't say I regret anything I've done, but I wouldn't recommend for anybody my age to get pregnant. Even if you think you're strong enough to deal with a pregnancy, you are better off without adult responsibilities.

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