Frienemies No More?
Adrian was on pins and needles as she sat on a bench in the shade at the park and waited for Amy. She had been too anxious to sleep much last night and she found herself driving to the park and locating a comfortable spot to sit much earlier than 9:00. She sat there replaying in her head the conversation she'd had with Ricky, what she'd overheard her dad tell her mom and what her mom had lectured her about. Adrian had never been a religious person but she'd been praying most of the day yesterday begging God to let Amy forgive her quickly so they could get around to talking about teen motherhood. While Adrian was at the park Amy was just about to head out the door. She didn't know how long she and Adrian would be talking but since it was supposed to be a little warm today Amy filled her water bottle and took it with her as she headed out the door. Amy made the short drive to the park and found a place to park. She glanced around the park and walked over to Adrian once she spotted her sitting on a bench. Adrian looked up when she noticed Amy out of the corner of her eye and her palms started to get a little sweaty. Amy took a seat and the two girls stared at each other for a moment, Adrian with a mixture of fear and nervousness in her eyes while Amy's face was perfectly calm. Adrian broke the silence.
"Hi, Adrian." Adrian had been imagining how this conversation would go on and off yesterday and she decided she wanted to jumpstart their conversation by apologizing, hoping it would help her get to the point where she could ask Amy her questions that much sooner. Adrian licked her suddenly dry lips and cleared her suddenly dry throat.
"Before we start I just wanna say I know I was a mean, jealous, selfish bitch and you have every right to hate me for as long as you want. I overheard my dad telling my mom that you'd talked to him about me and my mom lit into me pretty good after she heard what you'd told him. I also talked to Ricky about our messed up relationship and I know I didn't handle your having his baby right at all. So even though you don't have to, could you just go ahead and yell at me or whatever so we can move on to my questions?" She waited hesitantly for Amy's response and hoped the absence of anger in Amy's face was a good sign.
"Adrian, I don't hate you. I just don't like you." Adrian was surprised to hear that Amy didn't hate her but had no problem believing Amy didn't like her.
"Um….so are we gonna go over everything or what?" Adrian asked, not sure which direction to take the conversation next. Amy shook her head.
"If you overheard your dad talking about my conversation with him than you already know what things you did and said back then that really upset me. I talked to Ricky and understand that a lot of the things you did to me were motivated by jealousy. I still don't understand why, I just get that jealousy can make you do hurtful and stupid things. I'm not here to rehash all that, Adrian. I'm here because you said you wanted to ask me about being a teen mom."
"Well, yeah, but I kinda figured you wouldn't be willing to talk to me about it 'til after you yelled at me or told me off. I mean, you went and talked to my dad about what I'd done back then and, from what I got from the conversation I had with Ricky, you talked to him about it too so you obviously weren't over it all entirely," Adrian admitted honestly, with a hint of surprise in her voice at Amy's calm demeanor. Amy chuckled.
"Adrian, that program in New York helped me a lot. It gave me some perspective about life and being a teen mom. It gave me the confidence to speak up and stand up for myself and helped me reclaim my self-esteem. When I got back I decided it was time to get rid of the unnecessary drama in my life. The only way I was gonna be able to do that was to stop talking to friends who were actually my enemies and that meant going back to the beginning to figure out who I could actually trust. That's why I went to see your dad. I needed answers to some questions that only he could answer. It wasn't that I'm not over what happened back when I was pregnant and John was a baby; I just needed to go backwards to figure out how all the drama in my life started."
"So why didn't you come talk to me sooner?" Adrian asked, genuinely curious about why Amy had basically avoided her so far, especially since she knew she was responsible for a lot of that drama.
"I didn't need to." Her reply confused Adrian and her face said so.
"Why not?" Adrian asked, a little defensively, although she couldn't put her finger on just why she felt offended all of the sudden.
"Adrian, you have a destructive way of dealing with your emotions and you hurt me in the past because of it. I admit I didn't always help the tension between us because my low self-esteem caused me to let you push my buttons, and it was juvenile of me to stoop low enough to call you a slut just to try and push yours. I don't know what issues you need to deal with before you're willing to treat people better but since I have no intention of putting myself in a position where you can even attempt to try and hurt me again, I had no reason to talk to you."
"But what about that phone call you made to tell me we should be friends?"
"When I made that phone call I honestly meant every word. It was only after I went back to the beginning and thought everything through that I was able to see you never wanted to be my friend; you just wanted to keep tabs on me so you could keep tabs on Ricky. I've got no room in my life for frienemies, Adrian." Adrian couldn't argue with what Amy had just said because it was all true. She sighed and tucked a few strands of hair that were blowing in the gentle breeze behind her ear while Amy took a drink from her water bottle.
"Okay, but even if we're not friends right now would you tell me what it's like to be a teen mom anyway?" Adrian asked, her voice begging Amy to say yes.
"What do you wanna know?" Adrian breathed a sigh of relief.
"For starters, how hard is it to go to school then work, then take care of your baby?"
"Very." Adrian gave her a questioning look.
"That's it!? Just 'very'!?" Amy laughed at Adrian's disbelieving look.
"You weren't very specific, Adrian. It's hard to be a mom while going to school and having to go to work too," Amy said with a smile.
"Ok," Adrian said sarcastically. "Well, what's the hardest part?"
"You're gonna have to be more specific." Adrian let out a frustrated breath.
"Amy, you're really not helping me here." At her look of frustration Amy decided to throw Adrian a bone and level with her.
"Adrian, when you see your baby's face for the first time your heart's gonna fill like it's about to burst because you have so much love pouring out of it for your baby. You carried that little person inside you for nine months and then suddenly he or she's in your arms. You love them unconditionally and to pieces and because you do you're gonna be terrified. Terrified of screwing the kid up, of doing something wrong, and not being a good enough parent; you have to figure it out as you go. A few days after you give birth you gotta go home and somehow keep that little human being alive and happy until they're old enough to tell you when something's wrong or they want something. For me, I didn't wanna take John outa the house until I was sure he'd built up enough of an immune system to survive whatever germs the world threw at him, but I had to go to school and that meant leaving my baby with strangers all day. Granted working there allowed me to get to know those strangers and feel comfortable with them watching my son, but I also felt bad that I couldn't spend all day everyday with my baby because I had to go to school. Every morning that I drop him off at the nursery is hard for me, even now. And then after work I bring my son home and have to take care of him and still finish my homework and it's hard, even when your child's father is around at night to help you. And you're not just tired, you're exhausted. John didn't sleep through the night until he was five and a half months old. That meant I was getting up every couple of hours to feed and change him and when you're not getting a good night's sleep but have to get up and go to school and then work, you're not the most pleasant person to get along with." Adrian chuckled.
"Yeah, you were pretty moody after John was born."
"Some of that was lack of sleep the rest was me being angry at myself for becoming a teenage mother."
"So what do you do to deal with the exhaustion?" Adrian asked, worry tainting her voice. Amy shrugged.
"I don't know what other new mom's do but I just did my best to nap when John did and start my homework during lunch or study hall so I could get to bed sooner. Of course those impromptu naps mighta helped."
"The what?" Amy gave a sad smile as she remembered John's infancy.
"Some nights I was so tired I actually fell asleep standing up in the shower; I'd wake up to find that the water was now ice cold. Sometimes I dozed off in the middle of getting dressed. I'd sit down for a minute and someone would wake me up a few minutes later so I could get to school. I even dozed off once during a date with Ben. When the lack of sleep catches up to you your body just has a mind of its own," she finished with a shrug. She looked at Adrian and saw worry and fear etched into her face so she decided to give the mother-to-be some reassurance. "Don't worry about it so much. All new moms deal with lack of sleep and once your baby starts sleeping through the night you'll recover just fine." Adrian gave Amy a look of gratitude for her attempt to soothe her fears and she took a deep breath to calm herself.
"I'm so sorry, Amy," she said before hanging her head and staring down at the grass.
"I didn't know." Amy chuckled, causing Adrian to look at her with a questioning gaze.
"I heard that a lot as I talked to people at the beginning of the summer. So, what exactly didn't you know?"
"I didn't realize how tired you actually were. I mean, I know babies are hard work but if you were so tired you feel asleep upright in the shower than you really didn't need me and my jealousy stressing you out even more." Adrian suddenly began to tear up a little. Her next words came out in a teary rush. "And you had your parents and sister and Ricky around to help you and you were still stressed out and my mom's not gonna be there a lot because of her job and when Ben goes home at night it'll just be me and my dad! And I don't even know how well he is with babies 'cuz my stepbrothers weren't babies when he married their mom. I don't know how I'm gonna take care of a baby by myself!" Amy put her arm around Adrian's shoulders and gave her a hug.
"You just figure it out as you go, Adrian. You're not the first expectant mother to be afraid she can't take care of her baby by herself. You're also forgetting that you won't be by yourself. It's like you said; you'll have Ben and your dad to help you but you'll also have Ben's dad to help you and your mom will help as much as she can. Besides, you wanna know a secret?" Adrian quickly nodded her head. "Even though your parents may be disappointed in you for getting pregnant in high school, like mine were, your parents will shamelessly spoil their grandchild because they can't help it. When your parents are home they'll be happy to hold and play with their grandchild every chance they get." Amy and Adrian shared a smile and Amy gave her shoulders another reassuring squeeze. The smile slowly left Adrian's face as she wondered about something.
"How difficult is it to raise your child when you're not romantically involved with your baby's father?" Adrian wasn't sure if she was treading on a painful topic but she needed to know.
"It can be a challenge. But the only way it works is if the two of you talk to each other about issues as they come up." Adrian decided to try and push her luck.
"How did you and Ricky make it work, when I wasn't causing problems I mean?" Amy chuckled.
"What sorta worked for us may not work for you and Ben. The two of you will have to work that out for yourselves." That wasn't the response Adrian was hoping for; she wanted some specifics.
"Well, what kinda things did you two have to work out?" Amy had no intentions of discussing the inner workings of her co-parenting relationship with Ricky with anyone, let alone Adrian, but Amy could tell that she was just looking for answers.
"Well, you and Ben may wanna discuss whose house your baby will live at most of the time, how you're gonna split the cost of buying what your child needs, and whose last name your child will have for starters." Shock crossed Adrian's face as she realized she hadn't thought about any of those things. When she didn't say anything Amy continued. "There may be other issues or topics you and Ben need to discuss but I don't know what those might be because your and Ben's relationship is different from the way mine was with Ricky during my pregnancy. You'll just have to talk to him." Adrian nodded but remained quiet, lost in thought. Amy let her sort things out in her head for a moment as she took another drink from her water bottle.
"What's actually being a mom of a newborn like? I know there're a lot of diaper changes and stuff but what about all the stuff that's not in those baby books?" Amy gave Adrian a questioning look.
"Why are you asking me? Your mom could tell you what it's like." Adrian sighed.
"I know I just….I don't know, I'm curious, and nervous about it all, now that you've told me a little about what it's like."
"Adrian, I described what it was like for me being a working teen mom still in high school. Everything else, all that stuff's that not in the baby books, your mom can fill you in on. I will give you one piece of advice about motherhood though." Adrian looked at Amy expectantly, eager for any tips or tricks she could obtain. "Those baby books were written based on an average sampling of babies. No two babies are alike. What one book suggests might work for an issue might not actually work on your baby. So be prepared to have to try a few different things."
"Wait, what kinds of issues?" Adrian quickly asked, worry tainting her voice again.
"Teething, tummy aches, ear aches, diaper rash; all sorts of baby-related issues." Adrian exhaled the breath she didn't realize she was holding. When Amy said 'issues' Adrian's imagination conjured images of life-threatening issues. Diaper rash didn't sound so threatening. Adrian had the sudden desire to go back home and reread every baby book she'd picked up just to make sure she hadn't missed any tips, tricks, or just helpful information.
"Thanks, Amy. I know you didn't have to talk to me and I'm really glad you did."
"You're welcome." Adrian had one more question she wanted to ask Amy before she left.
"So do you think we'll ever be actual friends? Now that we've both gotten pregnant in high school?"
"Adrian, we won't even be acquaintances until you decide to stop hurting other people when you feel hurt or threatened. If you genuinely change your ways and make an effort to be nicer to people then, and only then, would I consider trying to be your friend. The only reason I came here today is because I know the fears and worries I had about being a teen mom and I know sharing part of my experiences with you could help ease those fears." Adrian decided she best not push her luck and just nodded in understanding. Adrian started to stand up and Amy helped her rise from the bench.
"Thanks again, Amy."
"You're welcome." The two young women went their separate ways, both a little lost in thought. That went better than I expected Adrian thought as she climbed into her car. I wish I could talk to her again if I have any more questions but at least I'm not as unprepared for this as I was this morning. She looked down at her belly and rubbed it. I'm not happy to know Amy thinks of me as an enemy though she thought with a frown as she put the key in the ignition and started her car. Guess I'll just have to work on that.
Even though Adrian's one of my enemies, I'm glad I was able to help ease her fears Amy thought as she climbed into her SUV. When I was at the program I wished there'd been some kind of support group I could go to to talk about my own fears, worries and questions. She started her vehicle. From one teen mom to another I'm glad I could help but this is as far as it goes until she changes her ways for good Amy decided as she backed out of her parking stall and headed back home.