Maya Angelou: Why I Kept My Baby

 

master-class-maya-angelou-2-600x411Writing in 2001 in Family Circle magazine, Maya Angelou, who died yesterday at 86, described her decision to keep the child she conceived at 16. With thanks to Feminists For Life for posting it, I’m reposting this remarkable article in full.

When I was 16, a boy in high school evinced interest in me, so I had sex with him — just once. And after I came out of that room, I thought, Is that all there is to it? My goodness, I’ll never do that again! Then, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the boy and asked him for help, but he said it wasn’t his baby and he didn’t want any part of it.

I was scared to pieces. Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me. So I decided to keep the baby.

My older brother, Bailey, my confidant, told me not to tell my mother or she’d take me out of school. So I hid it the whole time with big blouses! Finally, three weeks before I was due, I left a note on my stepfather’s pillow telling him I was pregnant. He told my mother, and when she came home, she calmly asked me to run her bath.

I’ll never forget what she said: “Now tell me this — do you love the boy?” I said no. “Does he love you?” I said no. “Then there’s no point in ruining three lives. We are going to have our baby!”

What a knockout she was as a mother of teens. Very loving. Very accepting. Not one minute of recrimination. And I never felt any shame.

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him.

At 17 I got a job as a cook and later as a nightclub waitress. I found a room with cooking privileges, because I was a woman with a baby and needed my own place. My mother, who had a 14-room house, looked at me as if I was crazy! She said, “Remember this: You can always come home.” She kept that door open. And every time life kicked me in the belly, I would go home for a few weeks.

I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou’s shadow, and he said, “I always thought I was in her light.”

Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!

There are 12 comments.

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  1. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    Nice. Praise God indeed.

    • #1
  2. BlondeAndGeeky Member
    BlondeAndGeeky
    @BlondeAndGeeky

    I went through a similar experience myself, but I was 20. My son isn’t a father yet but he wants to be and I am sure he will be a great one because he understands the importance of fatherhood more keenly than others as he grew up half of his childhood without a father (he now has a stepfather, my husband whom I married later).

    I am blessed to have had him because I can’t have children now either. Life unwinds in ways we can never imagine.

    • #2
  3. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Why is this story on Ricochet??

    Big dislike.

    • #3
  4. Matede Member
    Matede
    @MateDe

    God bless. These are stories that need to be shouted from the rooftops.

    • #4
  5. user_645127 Member
    user_645127
    @JenniferJohnson

    Wow, what an amazing story.

    • #5
  6. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16?

    Grrreat message to send to young unmarried women.

    • #6
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    EThompson:

    Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16?

    Grrreat message to send to young unmarried women.

     I didn’t read it as a strong encouragement to have pre-marital sex. Indeed, I thought that it was a pretty good piece opposing it; Angelou’s life would have been a lot easier with a decent chap. Instead, it was a piece celebrating life, and noting the lesson of Genesis 47; her boyfriend had only selfish intentions, but God used his evil for good. 

    • #7
  8. danys Thatcher
    danys
    @danys

    Angelou made a common foolish decision as a 16 year old. She didn’t make it again. Her parents loved her & gave her the help she needed. Three lives weren’t ruined & her son was a gift.

    • #8
  9. user_645127 Member
    user_645127
    @JenniferJohnson

    I’ve heard stories of women in Angelou’s situation as teens and as adults. Except that as teens they decided to abort. After that, they used contraception for a very long time, tried to have children later in life when they felt ready, and discovered that they were unable to conceive. They feel a lot of grief over that abortion.

    • #9
  10. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    James Of England:

    EThompson:

    Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16?

    Grrreat message to send to young unmarried women.

    I didn’t read it as a strong encouragement to have pre-marital sex. Indeed, I thought that it was a pretty good piece opposing it; Angelou’s life would have been a lot easier with a decent chap. Instead, it was a piece celebrating life, and noting the lesson of Genesis 47; her boyfriend had only selfish intentions, but God used his evil for good.

    It didn’t endorse but in my humble opinion, it glamorized; most teenagers do not grow up to be Maya Angelou. More realistic examples should have been provided from the single black mothers who contribute to a 75% illegitimacy rate and are responsible for the statistics that one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.

    • #10
  11. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    One more comment on this post because it quite honestly, infuriated me. I don’t for one minute disapprove of pre-marital sex yet I certainly don’t approve of using abortion as a method of birth control. What I approve of is making responsible choices about one’s personal life that do not incur “procedures” or single motherhood or the ruination of inner city neighborhoods.

    • #11
  12. Grendel Member
    Grendel
    @Grendel

    EThompson:

    Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16?

    Grrreat message to send to young unmarried women.

    Actually, it’s a great message to send  young unmarried pregnant women.  So what if they get it a bit early.

    More seriously, what message would you send them?  “Pregnancy was a punishment*; don’t let it happen to you, and keep a Planned Parenthood business card tucked in your knickers’ elastic”?

    *Punishment for what, Mr. Obama, fornication?

    • #12

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