15 Years, 15 Things

15 years
Tuesday, August 22nd will mark 15 years since:
- I ate excessive amounts of steak
- I gained 80 pounds
- I got stuck in an inner-tube and was left helpless in the middle of our family pool
- I decided to watch the last minutes of Law & Order and ignore all the signs from my body
- I was rushed to the hospital 
- I counted to 5 forward and backward praying to whomever was listening not to give birth in the back of an ambulance
- My life changed forever
It is hard to believe that it has been over 15 years since I shocked my family with the news that I was pregnant. At the time I really had no plan, no idea what my future would hold. 
I was scared, nervous, anxious, embarrassed. How did the honour roll, basketball playing, grad class executive end up here? I preoccupied my time worrying about what everyone was saying and what everyone was thinking... "A baby having a baby!", "She could have done so much with her life?", "How could she do this to her family?", "What was she thinking?" "Oh my god, look at her!", "She isn't even finished high school yet!"
At some point during the pregnancy something clicked and I realized it was no longer about me and about what I had to do to become the best mother I could be at 17. That's right 17. I did the only logical thing a teenager would do... I drove around by myself, eating Subway sandwiches with extra mayo, stereo cranked (in my parent's car) listening to my theme song.  Jimmy Eat World- The Middle. 
Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

I can't tell you how many times this verse and chorus were sung, screamed, cried, or choked out, but it was my therapy and a reminder that I was in unknown territory, but everything was going to be alright. It had to be. 
I can't explain the theory "everything happens for a reason",  but I can tell you that I believe it. At the moment it didn't seem to make much sense, but looking back I can honestly say, I couldn't imagine my life any other way. Let's be clear, I most definitely do not condone high school pregnancy and all the difficulties that come along with it. Invite me into your home, I'll chat with your sons and daughters.  My plethora of single, teenage-parent going to university horror stories are the best birth control ever!!! But I believe my boy came into my life to teach lessons that I needed to be taught at that particular stage in my life. He came to put me on my life's path. He came to teach me these 15 things that have led me to where I am today. 
15 things
1. Unconditional love. Love with no limits. Battling constant criticism can take it's toll on you, but your children don't judge. They just love. He has taught me to just love... even after he unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper throughout the house while eating it. 
2. Priorities. My son taught me to get my ducks in a row. My list of responsibilities grew and I had to learn how to manage motherhood, school, work and money.  While most of my friends were worried about the next party I worried myself with feeding schedules and childcare. This lesson has paid off! I learned quickly what I value and what most deserves my time. 
3. Be yourself. Your true self. There are so many times I regret not saying or doing what I wanted to do because I was scared I would be judged. My son didn't come into the world worried about what people would think of him. He explored and learned for himself...why do we make it so hard for ourselves as adults? 
4. Set your bar high... even if you feel you are in a low place you can't settle. There are going to be mountains to climb, but don't let that be your excuse. Actually... when it comes to birthday parties don't set that bar too high. Set that bar almost on the floor. When did birthday party planning go from putting an "X" on the bottom of someone's plate to win a pack of Popeye Cigarettes to having the circus set up in your back yard with special performances by Justin Bieber and Maroon 5? 
To clarify:  Life Goals = Bar high, Birthday Parties = Bar on the floor. 
5. Be present. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment and your surroundings. Just like toddlers, Time won't stand still. 
6. Accept people for who they are. We all have preconceived notions about who, what and how people are. We need to learn to accept that people don't have to believe, act and live the same as we do. Respect, that is all. 
 7. Laugh. This is a form of survival. The alternative is crying most of the time and that usually scares people. Laugh at your mistakes; take time to laugh with family and friends. It is healing, calming and good for the soul. 
8. Ask for help. This is not a form of weakness; it is a sign of strength. If you know you need help... ask for it. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by family willing to help. Shout out to my parents who didn't leave me to the wolves. 
9. Don't give up. Life is too short to be lazy and boring. Period.
10. Work hard and shut up. 
11. Be patient...............with onesie snaps, carseat buckles, potty training, snowsuits, shoe tying, getting all 5 fingers in the right glove holes...scrap that-mittens are the way to go!
12. Forgive. This is hard. It's an art form. One I haven't completely mastered yet, but one I continue to work on. Once we stop and realize that forgiveness isn't about letting someone "off the hook" and more about freeing ourselves from negative energy the easier it becomes. 
“We don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it ― because we need it. ” – Bree Despain
13. Trust. Mutual trust. He continued to trust me after I almost burned our house down trying to puree his supper for the first time. He continued to trust me after his first home haircut. He continued to trust me after I told him "Crocs" were cool. He continued to trust me after I told him if he didn't stop sucking his thumb the cops would take him to jail. We continue to have a very trusting relationship, but I should point out he isn't so naive anymore! 
14. Be brave. As we get older,  it is harder not to live controlled by the reigns of fear. It isn't healthy to be scared to live, scared to die, scared to care, scared to let go. We have to embrace our situations and give it all we have!
15. Music isn't what it used to be. Anyone have a new theme song recommendation for a grocery getting, soccer mom of two, drowning in laundry? I can't seem to find one. 
I've been saying Happy Birthday to a boy for 15 years. Every year he surpasses my expectations and teaches what more there is to life. So Happy Birthday to someone I am proud of, but also someone that I work hard for so he can be proud too. We've navigated some of the most important times in my life together... cheers to making it out alive! 


  • Theressa Mcleod

    Wow so well said!! You rock

  • Courtney

    Love this! I was also a single teenage mom at 17.. and went on to university! My boy will be 16 this year and the lessons he has taught me!! I couldn’t imagine my life any other way ❤️

  • Jenn Hatt-Woodside

    Kristan, I looked up to you then, and look up to you now. As a manic depressant with more health issues than you can shake a stick at, Everyday is a push. A battle to get up and do the best I can for my babies! I got
    Pregnant at 19 and still never matured until ahhhhh 27 or so lol. I loved your blog. You’re still that beautiful yet plain, perfect personalitied gal who was willing to take the chance on a friendship with a black haired girl with chubby cheeks and a sense of humor back in grade 3. I envied you then and I still do ❤️ You’re a great mother and although your obsticals were plentiful, you nailed it!! -Jenn

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