Thanks to MTV’s popular docu-series Teen Mom 2 the world has gotten to know Elkview, West Virginia’s Leah Messer and her twin daughters Aliannah and Aleeah. As explained in her twin-sized 90-minute episode of 16 and Pregnant Leah’s pregnancy stemmed from her first sexual encounter with Corey Simms after the two attended prom together in 2009. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that if MTV had begun their ground-breaking series 17 years ago the nation might be talking about Leah’s mom instead!
Dawn Gibson was also 16 years old when she first became pregnant back in 1992, and although she didn’t have the added struggle of twins, her story was still fascinating to say the least! But more on that in a minute…
Dawn Spears, or “Momma Dawn” as she is affectionately known in the Teen Mom Universe, is often featured on Teen Mom 2 offering her daughter Leah advice. But, most fans of the show are more familiar with her through her no-holds-barred Twitter account where she can be found throughout the day sharing her love for Leah and the twins, Pittsburgh Steeler and West Virginia Mountaineer football, Leah’s two siblings, and most recently, Leah’s new man Jeremy Calvert. My favorite part of the @MommaDawnSpears Twitter experience, though, is when the haters rise up against Leah and the other girls on the show and Momma Dawn busts out her HUGE hater whoopin’ stick!
When Momma Dawn gets to hater whackin’ it is quite the show, sort of a tweet frenzy in righteous defense of the girls that usually ends with a half apology for “perhaps” over-reacting from Momma Dawn. (Although in my opinion there is rarely cause for apologizing)
As it turns out, Momma Dawn’s rabid defense of her daughter and the other Teen Moms stems from her own experience as a teen mom. Born and raised in the small town of Bomont, West Virginia, Dawn led a rather regimented life. “As a child I was raised in church,” Dawn tells us, “and on Wednesday before going to school I can remember me and my sisters always had to wear dresses to school because when we got home it was dinner, homework, and church.”
And though there were certainly a lot of things unique about the life a teenage girl in rural West Virginia in the early 1990s, there were also the universal teen similarities. “When I was 16 years old, like all other teens, I thought I knew it ALL and my parents knew NOTHING! I met a man in church and thought I was ready for marriage and so I did just that – begged my parents to marry this guy I thought was an upstanding Christian man.
^ 16-year-old Dawn Gibson on her wedding day
“So at age 16 I married and he and I promised my parents I would NOT get pregnant for at least 5 years after marriage. BUT… two month after getting married I became pregnant. OOPS! Sorry dad and mom. And guess who was born nine months later? Leah was. And by the time I was 21 I had all three of my children: Leah Dawn, Victoria Hope, and Ezekiel Isaac.
^ Momma Dawn and newborn daughter Leah Messer!
“I stayed with the children’s dad for nine years, and because I was young and dumb and was raised in a church atmosphere, I didn’t know anything about drugs and I would have NEVER thought he loved WOMEN NOT WOMAN. And when he said “8 ball” to his friends I was so naive I thought he was talking about pool. (seriously)
“Women and drugs brought our marriage to an end nine years later. My dad always told me, ‘when you get your belly full you will leave,’ and I did.
“I am now wed to Lee and we have been married for 12 years. He has been there to help me raise Leah, Victoria, and Isaac.
^ Dawn’s children Isaac, Leah and Victoria pose with her grandchildren
^ Momma Dawn and Lee Spears’ wedding photo
“Lee is a nurse and I was a dental assistant, but I now work for our local county schools. Lee and I are both certified in foster care/adoption. We just bought a beautiful new home that we LOVE! And we have two beautiful grandbabies as you all know, Ali and Aleeah!
“And I cant leave Jeremy Calvert (Leah’s Boyfriend) out! He has truly been a BLESSING to Leah, Ali, and Aleeah!
^ Lee, Leah, Momma Dawn and twins Ali and Aleeah
“I want everyone to know I regret NOTHING in my life, but I will say I have learned A LOT of lessons in life. I was NEVER a perfect child, adult, wife, or mother. But have you ever looked up the definition of “perfect” in the Websters Dictionary? Well this is the definition: PERFECT – means WITHOUT fault. NOBODY can say they are perfect! BUT, I do say I have striven and still try to be perfect. BUT… none are.
“With all of that being said, you now have a little insight on my life. I want ALL teens to watch and learn a life lesson from the Teen Mom show because it puts a face on the reality of what happens when you don’t use PROTECTION! SEX = mommies and daddies.
“Love, Momma Dawn.”
Thanks to Momma Dawn for sharing her story with us as well as all these wonderful photographs! And speaking of wonderful photographs, here’s one more from the day Leah was born with Momma Dawn and Grandma:
^ Momma Dawn on the day Leah Messer was born with Leah’s grandmother