Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Resistance is Not Futile by Lisa

Resistance is Not Futile by Lisa Becoming a mama at 17 has got to be one of the most radicalizing events I have ever been though. Finishing high school and going to college, jumping through welfare hoops and surviving, and just knowing what you're doing is revolutionary in and of itself. I finished high school a semester early and started college the next day. My soon to be one year old son was being looked after by my mom. I had full-time classes and was doing extremely well. I missed my son while at class, but at the same time, enjoyed the hours away from him, because it was the only break I had from being a mama. At home we'd study together, me reading aloud from my textbooks, and taking notes on one side of the notebook, with Byron sitting on my lap, coloring on the other side of the notebook. I had thought going to college full-time would be the best for both of us. I wouldn't become one of those other teenage welfare mamas. I'd be on welfare, but only to help me get through school. Once I got that degree, I wouldn't need welfare any more. I'd be able to buy our food with "real" money. After a year of college, my ideas changed. I could no longer go to school full time. Byron had to be in daycare and I had to go to work to pay for it. Welfare would pay for Byron's daycare during my school hours only if I also had a job. Full time mamahood and full time school are hard enough to manage, and add work to that schedule and sometimes a mama can get burned out. Part-time school, part-time work, full-time mama, full-time daycare. I wasn't happy. Byron wasn't happy either. But we survived. After a year and a half of just school and after another year and a half of both school and work, I quit. I gave up the struggle because it just wasn't worth it to me. I dropped out of school. I was gonna become a statistic. Education, we're told, is the only way out of poverty. For some it can be the way out. The way out of destitution and hungry kids. The way into work. And, as I see it, the way into becoming another zombie and a tool for the system. The system that now forces mamas to work at slave wages and put 12 week old babies into day care. The same system that doesn't care whether or not kids have no food or can't go to a doctor. I refuse to become part of that system. I have been a stay at home mama for only a few months and I am more dependent than ever. Even more dependent on subsidized housing. Even more dependent on food stamps. More dependent on child support. Yep, more dependent on the system. But we survive. Barley, just barely, we've been given just enough to be allowed to bite the hand that feeds us. This too has been radicalizing. I am raising a boy-child to be a man. To be a people loving, earth loving, art loving, sensitive, and conscious man. We paint, we sing, we dance, we dig for worms, we bake cookies, and we make tents out of blankets and chairs. I have learned as much from him as he has from me. He has shown me that learning is important. That questioning everything is crucial. That looking forward to tomorrow, just because it's something brand new, is worth doing. That looking for rainbows in the oil spots in the street can be fun. My desire to resist the pressure to conform became stronger when I became a mama. By going against what is considered right, first by having a baby at 17 and refusing to become a statistic, and, now, being college drop-out-stay at home mama with no rush to get a job, I'm teaching him that resistance is not futile. "Respecting children and education them [IS] vitally important to the process of revolutionary change," Martha A. Ackelsberg once wrote. It still makes sense. Children are the agents of change. But only if they learn that resistance is vital for survival. Not giving into what they believe is right, because of societal pressure, must be taught. Children must be given a voice and allowed to use it. And by letting yourself grow, learn, and resist with your children, there will be an incredible change in society.