I was 16 years old when I became a mother.
“A baby having a baby” is what I heard at the time. Indeed that was true: I was just a baby, but I’m not anymore. I’m here to speak for all the teen moms who don’t have their stories shared on TV. The teen moms who don’t have the ability to sit and write because they are too busy going to school or work. I am here to speak for the teen moms who are shamed for being teen moms. I am here to be their voice.
Becoming a mother at 16 was not my plan.
I carried my baby to term and gave birth to a child, Jayden. When I tell my story, I tend to fast forward through the difficult parts because it is hard for me to relive. The reality of it is that getting to where I am now has been a difficult path.
When I had Jayden, I was left with a decision: either go back to school or go to work. Thankfully, with the help of my family, I went back to school seven weeks after having Jayden. I did not want to become another statistic shared to adults in college. No, no, no. That was not going to happen to me.
Where I live, there are organizations that are set up to help teen moms, and one of those was called the Young Parent Program. My first day of Grade 11 was different then most teens. Instead of coming to school and comparing my class schedule with my friends, I rolled in with a seven-week-old baby in a stroller, looking for a friendly face.
My school day consisted of dropping Jayden off at daycare, going to my classes, and once the bell rang, I would head straight to the daycare to pick him up and go home. My mom was a single mother of three children who worked late, so most of the time I took the bus and SkyTrain to and from school.
At first, it was extremely difficult for me. I had to drop off my newborn baby to a daycare full of strangers so that I could graduate on time. But, as time went on, it got easier and I eventually started working part time.
As I continue to write this, I find myself leaving out important parts. Staying strong for my baby was something that I never thought I would have to do. I was naive. I received many disapproving looks, I was called many derogatory names from people who I never met. Even now, as I walk through the mall with Jayden AND Abel I get asked personal questions.
Do they have the same dad? How old are you? Are you married? Do the dads help? Are the dads around? Are you the babysitter?
These questions really infuriate me.
Not only are these questions extremely inappropriate to ask any mother, it is none of your business. What makes it OK to ask a teen mom or even a young mom these questions? Is it because of our age? Do we seem so completely stupid that we don’t have the right to deserve the same respect?
We, and I say WE because there are plenty of us in the lower mainland, do not deserve this disrespect. If you are not part of our family, or even a close friend, do not ask these questions about being a teen mom.
I was voted the valedictorian of the Young Parent Program in 2009.
Though I was not named valedictorian of my entire high school, being voted as the valedictorian of the YPP program gave me the same feeling. I worked my ass off in high school, from early mornings and late nights to taking summer courses. I was determined to graduate the year I was supposed to. That year was 2009. I missed seven weeks of school in total after giving birth to Jayden (and not even, because I had a tutor come drop of my school work while I was at home).
When I was in school, all I could think about was providing for my son and making sure that his future was better then mine.
It’s been 10 years since I found I was pregnant with Jayden.
In 10 years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and have grown into this person that I am slowly becoming happy with. I have years of abuse, hardships and tons of stories to share. The most important is my teen mom story.
I was going through a dark path before having Jayden. If it wasn’t for him, I can’t say for sure that I would be as motivated and driven as I am now.
Our relationship is different then most.
My heart bleeds but also beats for Jay. My eyes start to tear up when I think about the little baby I was pushing in that stroller and then when I look at him now. he is strong. My baby has grown up to be so loyal, responsible, smart, caring, loving, and independent. I know he doesn’t remember, but he acknowledges what I’ve done for him.
My hope is to inspire other teen moms to continue living for their dream and their children. My hope is that the community around us takes the children we are raising into consideration. My hope is that society becomes aware that with help and encouragement, more teen mothers will finish school and become successful.
These are my hopes and dreams. I am not ashamed of being a teen mother; I am proud.