I’ve spent the last week working on a speech that I am giving on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, for me, I somehow deleted my folder that had everyspeechI’veevergiven in it, so I had to rewrite an entire speech from scratch. And then on top of it, my kids have been mysteriously ill, so that was super fun.
But yesterday, Ben was finally home to give me a few hours to work, and I got `er done.
The thing is, I actually dread giving speeches. I’ve spoken at a few schools across the country and had the opportunity to speak on Capitol Hill (how many people can say that they’ve pumped in a Congressman’s office? Because I totally have! Ha!), but I still don’t feel comfortable in my role as a public speaker.
I feel uncomfortable for many reasons, including 1) I don’t feel like an expert. After all, I’m just a girl who got pregnant, right? 2) I’m a naturally quiet and introverted person. That makes for a killer combo for speech giving and 3) I hate getting up in front of people in my current overweight postpartum state. Let’s hope for a podium.
But I give speeches when I have that chance to because I really, really believe in what I’m talking about. And that’s supporting pregnant and parenting resources on college campuses and celebrating young motherhood.
Even though I’m always incredibly nervous to talk, I find it helps to remember what I’m working towards. And that’s ideas like this, some excerpts from my speech:
“It’s hard enough to embrace a pregnancy when you feel like you made a mistake. I struggled so long with that—I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy about my pregnancy because of it.
You can’t hide an unplanned pregnancy. It’s out there—in my case, way out there, for the world to see it. And honestly, the shame I felt and the fear I had of being judged was almost enough to make me want to try to hide it through abortion.
I want to send the message that young motherhood is nothing to be ashamed of, which is not to be confused with promoting any type of premarital pregnancy.
I want young mothers to feel empowered.
I want them to know that they can do this. That no one will look down on them, or see them as somehow irresponsible or ignorant for their age. Overall, I want them to just feel normal.
Too often, I feel like the message for young moms is that they got themselves into this situation, so they can get themselves out. And I don’t think that’s fair. The truth is, motherhood is hard, and there are times when we all need to ask for a little help.
In my experience as an advocate for young mothers, I’ve noticed that the women who succeed are the ones that recognize that there is no one path to parenthood. They don’t buy into the notion that having a child somehow means that your life is over.
They realize that becoming a mother is just the beginning.
In my work in advocating for, speaking and writing about unexpected pregnancy and motherhood, the message I hear over and over from other young mothers is not one of desperation, entrapment, or fear.
It is of hope and love.
It is of strength and possibility.
It is the power that it took to say “yes,” in the love that they are gifted with each and every day with a family, in the hope for the future for both themselves and their child, in the knowledge that anything is possible, given the right support.
These women are incredible. They are forging lives for themselves and their children, fighting tooth and nail, going without sleep, accepting help from friends and family, becoming doctors, entrepreneurs, writers. I am in awe of these women because it takes immense courage to stand up in a world that devalues young moms.”
I am in awe of each and every one of YOU out there.
And I’ll be standing up there, giving the best speech I can, because of YOU. Because of the work you are doing each and every day as young mothers, birthmothers, professionals, students and wives.
I hope I can do us proud.
And I hope my dress fits.
I really, really hope my dress fits.
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