Motherhood as Inspiration
When I was nineteen I could barely do anything for myself. I could not keep a clean room (so much so that my first dorm-room roommate moved out), I could not wash clothes often enough to ever have a clean pair of socks (thank goodness my 2nd roommate had tons of pairs) and I could not make it to class on time (or even make it to most of my classes at all).
And then I got pregnant. Yes pregnant at nineteen. I was so disorganized about caring for my own life and now I would be caring for another human life! I know most people at the time thought, "How in the world is this adolescent girl going to manage having a baby and meeting it's needs as well as her own?" Well, to all those moms out there who find themselves in a similar life dilemma, let me tell you it can be done. The possibility of CHANGE is alive and well.
I became pregnant the second semester of my freshman year of college. Contrary to the fact that everyone, and I mean everyone, was advising (more like directing) me to have an abortion, I chose to have my baby after weighing all my options. I finished out that winter semester through 3 months of horrible morning sickness and nightly horrendous headaches. That summer while 6, 7, and 8 months pregnant I worked two part-time jobs, took two courses at a community college, and fully supported myself for the first time, living alone in an apartment. And because of my newly formed strong will I was suddenly able to keep that apartment spotless, rarely miss any classes or days of work, get everywhere on time, budget well and pay my bills. That fall my beautiful and inspirational baby boy arrived, happy and healthy. I loved my pregnancy, I loved my natural childbirth and I loved breastfeeding.
While I had taken the fall semester off from school to have my son I went right back to school as a part-time student that winter, when my son was 3 months old. I then went back to being a full-time student the following semester. I continued to breastfeed him and did so until he was 15 months old, all while attending school. To my surprise I made it onto the Dean's List many times throughout the rest of my college career, something that never seemed attainable before. I found myself having the courage and interest to be more vocal during class. I had literally found my voice through motherhood! And while I was not always conventional about it (taking my son with me to class a few times and always taking him to meetings I had with professors, advisors and organizations) my son was used to it and people on campus came to know that as my style and generally accepted it. After five years I graduated from college; my happy and healthy son was in the audience watching his mommy graduate!
Today my son is five years old and I am one semester away from having my Master's degree. And yes, he is my inspiration. Had I not had my son who knows if I would have even graduated from my undergraduate college? Had I not had my son I highly doubt that I would love and appreciate life as much as I do now! I can point to many disastrous directions my life may have taken, had I not had my son. But I have my son, and my son has me.
This is not to say that all has been easy or well, but when you find yourself struggling keep moving and breathing and when you find yourself failing then try something different. As for my son's father, he has continually participated in a very minimal way, mostly due to me encouraging his involvement. While I never say it, I personally think of him as the Glory Grabber. He will probably always be a headache who has and will affect my son in unhelpful ways. But I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot control that. I am doing my part and doing it well. My happy, loving, bright child is proof of that. My life, which is on more even ground than it ever was prior to his birth, is proof of that.
One thing that I do feel has been key to my success is support, support, support. Find good people and surround yourself with them! There is nothing better than that. If you do not have supportive family then make yourself a family of friends. It does not take much. If you are breastfeeding join La Leche Leauge. Nothing better than a group of local breastfeeding mothers! There you can find strength, support and friendship and it is free (http://www.lalacheleague.org/ will help you find a local chapter). If you are pregnant look for a young mothers group; pregnancy or childbirth groups like these are offered in many communities and usually operate on a sliding fee scale. Try contacting your local hospital but you can also call your local chamber of commerce to find one. If you are religious then find community and friendship in your church, synagogue, mosque, etc. If your child(ren) is old enough, and given that you have the time, locate a group of mothers that come together for play-dates with their children or attend your libraries weekly story time it is at these places where you can meet other mothers.
I know from experience that it is often hard to find other young mothers to surround yourself with. But you must try. If it is not possible to find young mamas to surround yourself with, older open-minded mothers work too, I know from experience. Having friends who do not have children is still very valuable and they can still be supportive, but there is something to be said about the dynamics that exist between friends who are both mothering. If this is absolutely not possible for your family circumstances then READ! Reading that provides support in your motherhood experience is also extremely valuable. Two websites for very supportive mothering magazines are http://www.mothering.com and http://www.compleatmother.com. I have found both magazines/websites to be highly supportive of both young mothers and single mothers. Motherhood truly is inspirational. Have faith that it will be and the power to let it be