In 1997 I was 16 years old and pregnant. I knew my life and focus needed to change in order to provide my unborn child the life she deserved. Walking the halls of a high-school while pregnant means you are a target of much judgment and unsolicited remarks from not only classmates, but teachers, secretaries, and administrators as well. Walking those halls, sitting in the small desks, failing gym because I could not bring myself to wear a bathing suit (and teachers refusing to make an accommodation) all sharpened my inner strength and helped me build a foundation for trials later in life. I even had a teacher state that it was a shame I was pregnant because he would be supporting my child and me for the next 18 years because I would end up on welfare (which for the record I did not do). An administrator even encouraged me to have an abortion because I would not be able to attend college and raise a child. As I write this I wonder if any of those experiences subconsciously influenced my drive to become a teacher who inspires and encourages students…hmmm. I have always used writing as my therapy and kept a journal because to be honest, nobody ever understood.
Last week my daughter, who is now 19 years old sent me a text of a picture of one of the entries I made in my journal (pictured above). I forgot I copied a page and put it in a card during her senior year of high school. I immediately started to cry thinking about all the fears I went through, sacrifices I made, and recognized just how much I achieved despite the obstacles. While reading the entry I wrote from 1998 I realized how much I accomplished and continue to accomplish. It was not an easy task…I sacrificed quite a bit to be a mother at such a young age, but it also provided me with more of a drive and determination knowing I was responsible for a child.
- prom (although I did attend the senior ball to realize I didn’t miss much at all)
- dating pretty much was over after becoming pregnant and having a child so young
- any form of a social life
- new, fancy bras (I went without to provide for my child)
- experiencing the dorm life
- sleep, naps, or any form of closing my eyes
- did I mention zero social life?
- being taken seriously at times (such as taking her to the doctor and insisting my newborn was lactose intolerant after continuous projectile vomiting only to be told I wasn’t burping her properly….eventually the doctor realized I was right though)
- constant comments/judgment from people (this bothered me years ago, but not anymore…I might be jealous if I was them too..haha)
- balancing work/school and quality family time which I think is a struggle for most mothers
- “me” time
Now that she is 19 and has moved out on her own I find myself trying to cope with the change in my life yet again…all the obstacles and sacrificing was worth it all for the amazing young lady she has become!
I ask that if you see a young parent, try to catch yourself if you begin to make assumptions or judgments. Instead share an uplifting word, reach out to help, or do a random act of kindness to make a difference in their journey. Moments like those are not forgotten (maybe this will lead to another blog post as I have been blessed with many angels along the way who are not forgotten).