‘Your life isn’t over because you’re a teen mom’ — Speaking To 3 Teen Moms About Their Experience
By Sabrina Boileau
PHOTO © dariariabova/Twenty20
Dec 2, 2020
When I became a mom I was only 15 years old. I felt alone and like nobody understood me. I’m 19 now, almost 20, and it took me a long time to realize that teen moms are all around me, and we are not all the same.
I wanted to hear from moms of different generations who all had children around the same age. People who could share a perspective in their own individual way. So I spoke to three special women.
"'I’ve been told by family that they don’t understand what it’s like to be a teen mom.'"
Kallista is 19 years old. She got pregnant at 17, and gave birth to her son at 18. Her goal is to go back to school and one day become a psychologist.
Cassandra is a 23-year-old woman who’s gone through a major surgery to remove her colon and receive an ileostomy after suffering from a perforated bowel. She’s a mother of two and had her first when she was 18 years old. She had her surgery when her youngest son was only 9 months old, and has spent the last year relearning how to do everyday things.
Rozanne became pregnant and gave birth at 16. She's raised four kids as a single mother and adopted her fifth at the age of 37. She returned to school when she was 30 and received a diploma so she could work in the automotive industry. She is 44 now and happens to be the mother of my boyfriend, and grandmother to my children.
Sabrina has a young daughter with another child on the way, and she can't help but feel worried about her partner's job as an essential worker. Read her story here.
What were your and your family's initial reactions to finding out you were pregnant?
Kallista: “My boyfriend and I found out a month before our families did. We were in shock and our initial thought was, 'Well our parents are going to kill us, so let’s get an abortion.' After we told our parents, we all sat down at a restaurant and had a discussion. We got full-on support from both of our families and we decided the right thing was to keep the baby.”
Cassandra: “My family was shocked. They didn’t believe me at first, they made me take a few tests. They weren’t completely upset with me, but they weren’t happy. I cried a lot. I didn’t know what to do. I was going to go back to school to get my high school diploma. I was confused, I was wondering what I was going to do as a single mom. It was difficult because I didn’t have emotional support from a partner.”
Rozanne: “I got pregnant on purpose because I was rebelling against my parents. My mom found out through town gossip and she was not pleased. I was at my boyfriend's place when she called to ask if the news was true. I was pulled out of school, grounded and not allowed to leave the house for three weeks. At the time, I thought I had it all figured out — only to find out I still had lots to learn. When I left the house I was sad because I loved my family, but I had no idea the sadness and disappointment that I caused them until I was about 26 — after being a mom for 10 years, single, now with four children, two of whom I gave birth to in my teens. It was tough to have absolutely no support from anyone.”
Did you/do you feel derailed?
Kallista: “I absolutely did feel derailed! I was a lost mess! I didn’t know what I was doing. I was stressed, I had all these crazy scenarios playing in my head. It’s crazy how no one knows how it feels the be in the situation. I’ve been told by family that they don’t understand what it’s like to be a teen mom.”
Cassandra: “Of course, I never thought I’d be pregnant at 17 years old, I thought I had more time. I had to change plans multiple times. But everything worked out in the end. I didn’t plan on being a single mom or having to move back in with my parents when things got rough, or even having to co-parent.”
Rozanne: “Yes. In raising four children alone, I had so many obstacles to overcome. I often questioned my parenting as I felt I was given too many hurdles. Abuse, lying, running away, drugs — I just wanted better for my children. It was then that I realized what my parents wanted for me.”
What is something you wish you or someone else would have done differently?
Kallista: “I wish I stayed in high school during my pregnancy so that I could at least have my diploma — and then had my baby, because he would have been born on prom night.”
Cassandra: “Honestly, I wish I could have waited longer to have a child, just so that I could experience life more being so young. I in no way regret having him, he’s an absolute blessing in my life. I also would've stuck up for myself more when people would talk down to me and tell me I would never make it this far with him in my life.”
Rozanne: “I love all of my children, but I think if I could have a redo, I would have chosen a better father who would be present in their lives. I would have finished school before becoming a parent, because my life was put on hold to put my child’s needs ahead of my own. I was a drop out at 16 and got my equivalency and a diploma to work in the automotive industry to prove to my children that no matter what life deals you, everything is possible.”
When Sabrina found out she was pregnant, she quit school. Her message to other teen moms now: stay in school. Read about her experience here.
Where do you see yourself and your kids in 10 years?
Kallista: “I hope to see us in our own apartment, with a steady job, and with my two kids living their lives happily. I'm hoping to have a second baby sometime in the next 5 years.”
Cassandra: “I see my children in school. I see myself having a career and watching my kids grow up — watching them turn into young men. And travelling with my boyfriend's job. Hopefully healthy!”
Rozanne: “I will still be a single parent, but hope to be the best Nana to a lot of grandbabies. I will be proud of all my children’s accomplishments, as I have instilled great family values in them. I will be able to say I did my best. And in the end, even though there were many, many struggles, I will be able to honestly say I am proud of my children.”
What advice do you have for teen moms or pregnant teens?
Kallista: “Set a goal for yourself and work toward it. Finish school and get a job, because you need to support that little bundle of joy you’re bringing into this world. It is your life, no one can take it from you. It might take time but know that you are an amazing mom, you are going to get through this!”
Cassandra: “Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don’t listen to what people think about you, because they don’t know you. If people walk away from you remember that they aren’t worth your time. Real friends will stay. Finally, if you think that you are feeling really sad and depressed, don’t be scared to talk to someone. It’s OK to not be OK.”
Rozanne: “Your life isn’t over because you’re a teen mom, it’s just starting to slow down. Enjoy your own roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. But something I often say is, 'God only gives us what we can handle.' Don’t stress about what others are saying or thinking. Do your absolute best and in the end it will be OK. Support is what every mom needs — but especially teen moms. Hug your children as much as possible and always let them know that you love them and you're proud to be their mother. And make as many memories as possible, because memories are forever.”
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