Put yourself in their shoes for a minute—what would you do if every person you looked up to was disappointed in you and said you weren’t ready to be a mother? Wouldn’t it just be easier to end it and not let anyone know? Sadly, many teen/young single mothers feel this way, but luckily not all.
I asked a good friend of mine who had her daughter in high school if I could interview her about her journey and she graciously agreed. Here’s our conversation:
What was your first thought when you found out you were going to be a mother?
Seeing as I was 16 going into my junior year of high school, my initial thoughts were not PG-13. I was terrified. I wasn’t even taking care of myself. Let alone [did I know] how to take care of a small needy human. At the time I also was very much in love with my child’s father, underneath all that fear was love.
How hard was it to tell your mom/parents?
Well… I didn’t tell either of my parents so very hard. My mom was told by [the father's] mom on my front porch since I was too much of a chicken. My mom cried, then laughed, and probably cried again. She knew we were just kids. She didn’t want us throwing away our future. I told her that I still planned on going to school even with the child.
My father on the other hand was told by my older sister, who I was yet again too scared to tell myself. His response was pretty much that he wanted nothing to do with the child and that it was all my mother’s fault that I was “knocked up.” As of right now, he has been trying to make efforts to see and talk to [my daughter] and me.
Did you even consider terminating the pregnancy? If you did, why did you decide to continue the pregnancy, and if you never considered it, why didn't you?
Yes and no. Let me explain. I knew it was an option but I didn’t think I could ever go through with it. For the first six months of my pregnancy I was not aware that I was pregnant. I had no symptoms of pregnancy, no morning sickness. I ran actively in track. I was not menstruating but I thought that was due to amenorrhea, because I was a teenager who replaced meals with two energy drinks a day. Then we cannot forget the DENIAL, the “that couldn’t happen to me” thought process. So when I found out I was carrying a child inside me, I was heading into the third trimester. I felt her move not long after I found out, so that's what really did it for me. The butterflies in my stomach that her father gave me were now feet of our child.
What has been the hardest part about being a young mom?
Time management. You have to realize as a young mother you do not have time to go out with your friends, go out to parties, or sleep in till noon. You have a child to feed, educate in life and knowledge, love, attend to, and snuggle with. I would not say that’s the hard part. I guess it’s the educate part. As a mom, it is my job to teach her to sit up straight, to put on her clothes, to make decisions for herself, to be confident in herself, to teach her words, tell her stories, listen to her even after a long day, have conversations with her about new words or life, let her know that she is loved and teach her about life; all the fun things about life as well as all the not-so-fun things. [My daughter] is now 3 years old and I still try to hide the fact that CJ the Slug we tried to save from the sun didn’t make it, but my little toddler believes that he made it back to his family. Well, in a way, maybe he did.
What are some challenges you face as a mom and student?
I feel like I am an acrobatic juggler, balancing life, school, volunteer and clinical hours with a child on my shoulders who is lunging forwards towards something I told her not to touch. One of the hardest things is that my major is very demanding of my time. I am at my clinical site and school over 40 hours a week. I see [my daughter] when I first get up in the morning and when I get back and we are making dinner, bathing, then off to bed. Also with the time that I am home I have to find time to do homework and not pass out on the couch or at 4am there will be a toddler who wakes up because she doesn’t like to sleep alone. Dating, friends, scheduling, well pretty much everything seems to be a challenge. Dating in college for a lot of people seems to be a norm. When you have a child, there’s so much more to take in consideration. Friends who don’t understand that you can't always go out or take a midnight trip to McDonalds because you have a kid already in bed. The college “all-nighters” are hard to any college student and near impossible when you have to get a kid to bed by 9:30pm and to school by 7:30am.
Is there anything you would say to young moms who may be in a situation similar to yours?
Don’t give up. Don’t put them on hold for your dreams, but don’t give up your dreams either. Kids are very adaptable. They also need you. Yes it is easy to put on their show so that you can dish out that 6 page paper and dinner, I’m not saying never do that. But take some time, slow down and enjoy them. “The days are long, but the years are short,” they will wear you out, but take at least one night a week that you don’t have to do homework or housework and take them in and enjoy them. Go to the park, stay in a read books or play pretend, and this goes for not only student moms but working moms. Your child is proud of you; they see how hard you are working for them. It may not seem like they appreciate it, but when they look back they will see that, “my mom was Wonder Woman, I want to be like her.”
Next time you see a young mother, don’t think “she could have stopped this.” Instead, take the time to thank her for being a real-life superhero. Thank her for choosing LIFE!