Cathy, 16, Mom
Listen [6:08]:
(sounds of Cathy with the kids)

CATHY: Like, I weren't so upset when I got pregnant with James. I figured I could do it. It's like, 'I don't know what everyone was talking about, taking care of kids is easy.' But it's not. I love it now. It's frustrating but–

[sounds of Cathy with the kids]

CATHY: I'm Cathy. I'm 16. My boyfriend's name is Donald. He's 20. We have a son James. He just turned 2 yesterday. We have a son Nick. He just turned 5 months. I live in Waterville, Maine. Donald works at Ruby Tuesdays in Waterville. My dad helps us pay the rent.

I swear I can kiss them all day

Oh my God! Oh my God! Look at that! Don't dude. That shit's not cheap, James!

CATHY: James poured Nicholas' formula on the floor.

No we need to seriously sit down and have a discussion about this

CATHY: I took him in his bedroom and I talked to him.

Look at me!

CATHY: Formula's mad expensive. This little can cost 15 bucks. It has those little scoopers in it. And they use the scoopers at daycare as toys. I don't think he understands, really. It's hard, though when something's a toy at one place and then in another place it's not. If he makes me too mad then I have to go like– I shut myself in the bathroom. And I cool off and then I go and I talk to him. 'Cause I know that sometimes people get mad, and when they ge treally mad they say and do stuff that they regret, so. It's better just to take a few minutes and relax

[song: Roses by Outkast]

CATHY: Have you heard that new Outkast song? [singing] 'I know you like to think your shit don't stink!' I just realized this morning I was actually singing that. I love Outkast.

[raise song]

CATHY: I feel like I have to be a woman, but sometimes I want to be 16.

CATHY: My grandmother told me to have an abortion, but, like I don't know, I don't believe in it. I mean, she weren't upset about it or anything. She just didn't' want me to be 14 with a kid. She deals with it now. She loves the boys.

CATHY: When I was five months old my mom died. It's no big deal to me. Everybody's always like, 'I'm sorry'. Sorry for what? Because it's just life now. But, so like, I think that made it so as that I kind of had to grow up. And definitely having kids, I had to grow up.

CATHY: I'm definitely mature for being for being 16, that's for sure.

TEACHER: So, we had a long time since our last parenting class together

CATHY: I go to school at the Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers. It's a– teen parent school. It's cool there, I like it.

TEACHER: So I wanted first to kind of check in.

CATHY: My history and parenting teacher is Janna Burgoin. In parenting class, uh, we do worksheets. We talk about our kids. We talk mre than we do work, definitley.

TEACHER: Why is it often hard to get along with a two–year old?

CATHY: We talk about all kinds of stuff. Questions we have, stuff our kid does.

TEACHER: So they're constantly frustrated, so if you can help them as much as you can

CATHY: I love this class. 'Cause all this about toddlers, you know, when James is sitting there screaming, and I just want to take him and shake him so bad. You know, I'll sit there and I'll just fume, and I'll fume, and I'll sit there and I'll be so mad, and I'll clench myself, and I'll be like, he's little, he's little, he doesn't understand, he's frustrated he can't talk about it, he's little. Uh! And then I'm like, 'James, You gotta go play'.

CATHY: Some of it– I don't listen to, but some if it I do. Like the discipline thing, they make it sound easier than it really is. Like They make it seem like you can always just sit there and calmyly tell 'em. Sometimes it's just hard, 'cause they don't listen. Definitely.

[James makes noise]

CATHY: I always wanted to be a lawyer, but– not anymore. After my family gave me the reality of what it was going to be like in college! Like all the reading. And I was like, no! Fuck that! [laughs] I hate reading. I've always hated reading. I'm going to try to be an accountant. I only want to be an accountant because it makes mad money!

[James runs]

I never stand still!

CATHY: I like it that I have both of the boys, and I'm young. Because when they turn 18, I'll still be young. And hopefully looking pretty decent. And like, I think I'll be a better mom, being younger, because I'll be able to relate to 'em better. Like, I want them to know that they can tell me anything, and it will be OK

Tell me everything. Awww.

CATHY: My biggest fear when I was pregnant with James is that he weren't going to love me.

[James cries]

All right, come get me when you're not mad anymore

CATHY: The more attention you give him, the more he does it.

James, come here sweetey. Shhh.

CATHY: I don't know, I just get headaches sometimes, 'cause listening to everybody bitch at school and then coming home and listen to bitching crying kids all day.

Aw, buddy!

[mobile song]

CATHY: If I could still have the same kids, I would have waited. But– I love my kids. So, I wouldn't give 'em up for the world. No matter how hard it is.


CATHY: He likes that

James, I think we should all take a nap

[mobile song fades out]

This piece premiered in May 2004 at the Salt Gallery as part of the show Everything in Particular. It aired on November 19, 2004 on KPFA on The Radio Chronicles; January 3, 2006 on New Hampshire Public Radio's Front Porch; May 10, 2006, on KUER; July 12, 2006 on KFAI's Listening Lounge; and was featured as part of The Transom Radio Hour in August 2006.

Producer: Sarah Elzas
Recorded in Waterville, Maine
Photos: Allison Wightman