'It's Not A Fairy Tale, It's Not A Failure': A Mother At 16 Conquers Stigma With Love Until she put her own feelings before the judgments others made about her, April Gibson says she, as a young mother, "felt like I didn't deserve to feel the way women who do the right things do."
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'It's Not A Fairy Tale, It's Not A Failure': A Mother At 16 Conquers Stigma With Love

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'It's Not A Fairy Tale, It's Not A Failure': A Mother At 16 Conquers Stigma With Love

'It's Not A Fairy Tale, It's Not A Failure': A Mother At 16 Conquers Stigma With Love

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/578824301/579065899" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday, which is when we hear from Story Corps. Thirty-three-year-old April Gibson and her teenage son, Gregory Bess, love talking with each other.

GREGORY BESS: We could talk about things for, like, hours. I think I learn more from those conversations than school.

INSKEEP: But April, the mother, knew there was one subject they had not really explored. So when a Story Corps mobile booth traveled recently to St. Paul, Minn., she invited her son to sit down with her. He asked about his grandparents and her childhood. But April knew her 16-year-old had something more that he wanted to talk about.

APRIL GIBSON: Now you can ask me the hard question.

BESS: What did you feel like when I was born?

GIBSON: When you were born, I actually didn't feel anything. I was 16, and I was a kid. I didn't know what I was doing. So when I took you home, I didn't know how to feel. I made a bad choice according to everybody. I was just like all the rest of them. I don't know what the rest of them means, but I know what it felt like. Like, I didn't deserve to feel the way women who do the right things do because why would you celebrate someone making such a poor choice? So I didn't know what do feel, so I felt nothing. And I just took care of you.

I did what I was supposed to do until one day I realized that I couldn't believe what people told me about myself or about those people like me. This is my baby, and I love him. And I can feel something. It's not a fairy tale. It's not a failure. It's just a process. And now we're here 16 years later.

BESS: What are your dreams for me?

GIBSON: My dream for you, Gregory, is that you become a good person and not a nice person. That's not a deep quality to me. Niceness is mediocrity. I want you to not be afraid to be afraid. But mostly, I want you to be better than me.

BESS: When I was little, I was always looking for someone to look up to, but it's always been right in front of me. You're just the greatest person that I ever know. And I just want to be like you.

(SOUNDBITE OF WEINLAND SONG, "SUNKEN EYES")

INSKEEP: April Gibson and her son, Gregory Bess, in St. Paul, Minn. Their story will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and featured on the Story Corps podcast.

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