DEAR ABBY: I am 17 years old, and like any other teen-ager I like to laugh, play, study, party and be carefree. There is one part of my life, however, that makes me very different from other girls my age. I became a mother at age 16. I made a bad decision to have sex too young, without thinking of the consequences.
Tonight as I write this, I am missing the party of the year because I can't afford a baby sitter, not to mention a new dress. I am also a year behind in school and on home studies. I thought my boyfriend loved me, but my baby boy is almost 2, and I haven't seen his father since I told him I was pregnant.
I own two pairs of pants and three shirts, and my shoes are off the bargain table at the discount store because the baby's needs are expensive and constant. For those of you who think having a baby will turn you into a "free" adult, it won't. Here's what you get to do:
1. Wake up for a 2 a.m. feeding. (For months, I didn't have more than five hours sleep a night.)
2. Wake out of a sound sleep to care for a sick or frightened baby when you can't even think straight yourself.
3. Lug a diaper bag, baby stroller and irritable baby everywhere you go.
4. Never have a penny to spend on cute new clothes or makeup.
5. Lose your friends and disappoint your family.
I am begging all teen-agers to think twice before having sex. See the world first. Go to college. Above all, enjoy your teen years. The opposite sex will always be there, but you can be a teen-ager only once. -- TEEN MOM WITH A MESSAGE
DEAR TEEN MOM: You present a powerful case from a perspective only a teen-age mother could have. I hope your letter reaches other young people who need to hear it like it really is. Bless you for writing.