2 for 1 - Guest Post from Lucy Hay

Lucy is one of those people that you meet through a friend of a friend, but one that is so wonderful that you end up stealing her for yourself as a friend too! A bit of an inspiration to me and Scott (as you will find out in this post) she's a pretty big name in the right circles with her site Bang2write and has written a few things too! This woman just doesn't stop. Anyway I'll let you get on and read her wonderful post. 

When I was a recent graduate, I worked in a supermarket. I enjoyed observing the different types of people parade up and down the aisles. The well to do pensioner with designer gloves; the slightly ragged bachelor, his clothes on inside-out; the middle-aged empty nester, wandering about lost and purposeless; the harried, married professional couples, with not enough time for anything. And let’s not forget the young, single teenage Mum.

Eyes upon her, she and a child (or two) creep along the shelves, peering at sell by dates, looking desperately for those 2 for 1 deals to make her meager money go further. She pretends not to notice the indignant snorts at her very existence, or her children’s. She tries not to take it personally: these people don’t really know her, what she’s capable of, or what sacrifices she’s made.

But it’s hard. I know, because I was her, too.

You see, it doesn’t matter when you’re a young mum: in work or not; partner or not; a good parent, bad – whatever. People don’t see you, they see an “idea of you”: the media and politicans have seen to that. Commentators on the right AND left insist teenage pregnancy is “preventable” and all must be done to “eradicate” it, suggesting its very existence is due to a moral deficit in  society. The usual exclamation, “Babies having babies!” is seen as unseemly or a tragedy, with little or no middle ground.

This is why I wrote my YA novel, THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY – because we don’t hear REAL young mothers’ voices. Instead, we’re erased, reduced and invalidated. We’re the cautionary tale, who “could have been …” before we “screwed it all up”.

Yet I too, was a teen Mum. Fifteen years on, I have a BA (Hons), PGCE and TEFL certificates to my name, working with adults, teenagers and children. I run my own business; I’ve written and published several books, worked on movies and set up conferences. I even got married and had two more children. None of it was easy, but all of it was worth it: that first baby was not a barrier to my success. Why should he be?

And I am not unusual.

During my studies and working life, I have met not just one or two teen Mums like me, but STACKS. We’re usually reticent to share our stories, because we’re expected to play down our achievements, or face being “exceptionalised”. Sometimes we’re even expected to be apologetic for having a child at the “wrong” time, or having to claim help like benefits. Instead of supporting and empowering these young women and their children, society shames them. People stare in supermarkets, or older parents at the school gates speculate in lowered voices about whether we’re parents too, or older siblings of the child holding our hands.

A common thing I get “asked” is, “Yeah, but you wouldn’t want your kids to be teen parents, would you?”

My answer: I will be happy for my children to make the life choices they make. If one of them becomes a teen parent, I won’t shame her, I will support her. She can do whatever she wants to and so will my grandchild. My position has never wavered: a baby is not a barrier.

Teenage mothers don’t need to be a cautionary tale. If society helps them to help themselves, then they ACHIEVE – and their children can too, the ultimate “2 for 1” deal.


BIO: Lucy V Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She’s one of the founding organisers of London Screenwriters’ Festival and associate producer of the Brit Thrillers DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2014), both starring Danny Dyer. To keep up with LIZZIE’S DIARY, “Like” The Decision Book Series and view all Lucy’s books here.

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