I was 15 years old when I walked into a local Planned Parenthood to get a pregnancy test. A close friend accompanied me as I waited. Upon receiving the results, I called my boyfriend to pick me up. I got home and, as expected, my mother was distraught, expressing a few unpleasant words. My father was present in my life but did not live in the home I resided. He told me he supported whatever decision I made concerning my future. The options of abortion and adoption briefly raced through my mind. I was young and had no idea what I was going to do. I kept my baby.
Every day was a challenge – from being young and pregnant, to dealing with the stigma of being "fast", not to mention the pressure of being able to provide for a child while trying to also take care of myself proved to be too much, yet I persisted. I graduated from high school, able to attend classes since childcare was provided by my school. It wasn’t until years later that kept a promise to myself and graduated from college.
I was able to cope with the difficulties of raising a child by praying a lot and I never stopped working. I kept my eyes on my goals. I was determined to not become another statistic. I refused to allow the reality of being a young black teenage single parent define my existence nor stop me from pursuing my purpose in life. I, like many adolescents, had career plans and goals before prematurely becoming a mother. I wanted to attend Howard University, pledge Delta Sigma Theta, and hold a professional degree. I vacillated between wanting to be a physician or an attorney. However, without anyone to encourage my desires and provide the mentorship and guidance needed to steer me in the right direction, I viewed my dreams as fairytales that were unattainable.
I was suddenly responsible for the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of another person yet didn't have a grip on those areas myself. I was alone in the overall raising of my child. Society puts so much pressure on women, yet ironically does not support women particularly when it comes to childbearing. Oftentimes, the lives of males rarely change after the birth of a child because our culture does not require it. Therefore, the father of my child wasn't much help nor was his family. The rare times I asked for assistance from the paternal side, namely from the grandparent, it was received but I didn’t ask often because I felt it wasn't their responsibility. There was, however, support from my own immediate family members - some babysat while I worked two jobs and one of my brother’s would often give me money as well as splurge on Christmas gifts. I wanted so much for my family. Although none of us had much, I never went without what I needed. In fact, there was a time when I didn’t have much to eat and didn't tell anyone out of embarrassment. A friend happened to call and asked me to come to her home and pick up food items. She had overspent on groceries and had way too much to fit in her freezer – one of the countless ways God provided.