Maci Bookout never thought she’d be a teen mom, and even after she got pregnant, she never thought she’d have to be a single parent. Now she’s taking care of her son Bentley, splitting custody with his father Ryan, all while trying to get her degree. If she had one message to share with teens today, which is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, it’s that being a teen mom takes a ton of sacrifice, and there is nothing glamorous about it. Read our exclusive interview with Maci in which she talks about the most common misconception about her life as a “Teen Mom,” her summer plans and her biggest struggles with Ryan.
ACT: What’s been the most challenging part of being a teen parent that you didn’t expect?
MACI: In the beginning, my biggest struggle was losing my teen years. I didn’t get to do everything that my friends who didn’t have children got to do, like going to prom and graduating from my regular high school and getting to go out and going away to college.
But after Ryan and I split up, my biggest struggle has definitely been to share my time with Bentley with his dad. I feel kind of selfish because I am grateful that his dad is still around and that he actually has a father figure in his life, but at the same time I never would have pictured motherhood with my first child being only half the time, because I have to give him away every other weekend and let him go on vacations with his dad. Holidays are always a rollercoaster. Things like that are definitely the biggest struggle for me and it’s really emotionally challenging to deal with. I never would have thought this is how my life would be when I got pregnant.
ACT: What is the biggest misconception people have about your life as a teen mom?
MACI: Probably the fact that they think that because I was on “Teen Mom” — or any of the girls for that matter — that we are celebrities now and that we live this glamorous life. They think that because we were on TV it took away the struggles of being a teen parent and it’s not the case at all… I still live a normal everyday life, I go through the same struggles as any regular teen mom. I am a single mom, me and Bentley’s dad aren’t together, I have financial problems. I’m trying to get through school, pretty much anything a teen mom goes through I still struggle with the same thing.
ACT: Today is National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. If you could create a slogan for the day what would it be?
MACI: I have always liked “Buy condoms today or buy diapers tomorrow.” It’s kind of blunt but I feel like in our generation you have to be blunt or no one’s going to take you seriously.
ACT: Have you heard any response from fans of the show or other girls in your life about how your story has affected them?
MACI: There are girls who are 16, 17 up to 25, and even as young as 12 and 13 who say, “Now that I’ve seen your show I’m going to not have sex” or “I’m going to protect myself while I’m having sex.” And then there are girls who are teen moms or young moms who say, “After watching you guys on the show I’ve gone back to school and realized that it’s possible to be happy.”
Women in their 30s and 40s who have daughters and sons have told me, “If your show wasn’t on I would have never talked to my kids about sex, but now we can sit down and watch ’16 & Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ and it opens up a conversation for us.” So it’s a wide range of all different people from different ages.
ACT: What’s coming up next for you, what are your plans for the summer?
Maci: I’m finishing up my semester in college right now, I have finals this week. Summer is a typical summer with Bentley. Go to the pool, riding his bicycle outside, he started tee ball a few weeks ago so that’s been really exciting. Really just hanging out! Our last season is premiering in June so that’s sort of bittersweet. I’m just taking it day by day to do what I want and keeping Bentley happy.
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