sunday songs: for emma, forever ago, bon iver; sex with ducks, garfunkel and oates (just trust me on this one); sweet darling, she and him; amnesia, britney spears (not to mocked or underestimated); i’ve been tired, the pixies; down by the water, the decemberists; , the killers; summer skin, death cab for cutie, rose for the lady, folded light.
It’s a night of the week, which means there’s a rerun of Teen Mom on. Things are pretty uneven this season in terms of disasters and repercussions. If you don’t watch, in summation, it looks like this: Leah has twins, one of whom has a yet to be determined spinal issue (although she did just graduate high school). Jenelle signed temporary custody to her mom, after a lot of violence and screaming and false starts. Chelsea’s dad is paying her rent while she finishes high school and lives with her seriously adorable child and best friend,and Kailyn is living in a pretty manipulative situationwith her ex-boyfriend/child’s father and his family.
Every time I watch this show, I think basically the same things: how poverty is so obviously exacerbating certain situations, how much I wish things were different for all of these girls, how much potential has been lost, all the things that they can never get back. (There are likely two blog posts here-one about the situation of these teen moms, which I’m about to get to, and another about the idea that people who are pro choice just love abortion so much that they want everyone to have them, no matter what. I’ll write that one soon.)
One of the more notable moments in this episode is Chelsea considering getting back together with her ex boyfriend, Adam, who, when we last met him, emotionally abusing and manipulating her. While he wanted their daughter Aubree to take his name on her birth certificate, Chelsea changed her name after he sent her a text calling Aubree a mistake. He wants back in now, claiming that he’s done screwing around and wants to be Aubree’s father. I’m skeptical, since it seems to be a lot of posturing about being a man and not wanting another guy to come and take away his job. I really, really want Chelsea to not fall for this (because I tend to overempathize with people on television), not just because it’s probably going to go badly, but because I’m tired of this “two biological parents-one of whom sucks- are better than one person who loves a kid” trope.
To be clear-I’m not glamorizing single parent-ness. Of course, it’s easier to have more than one person raising a child, but family planning-the literal sort, being able to plan if you have a family and whom you have it with-is privilege, and therefore, not everyone has it. In a lot of the Teen Mom scenarios, the emphasis seems to be on making it work no matter what, because that’s what people who have a baby together have to do, and also on having a traditional family.
There’s some psychology at work here, which I can’t fully appreciate because I’m not a teen mom. It’s not hard to understand why someone would not want to parent alone, but for me, it seems like a particularly creepy agenda: the ideal family is a man and woman, both of whom contributed genetic material. I hope that at some point soon, the message manages to get to them that this is only one version of a family, but in the meantime, it’s not hard to see that this is mostly about survival, about piecing together a life that looks hideously different than what was ever imagined.