“Momming It” as a 17-Year-Old Mom
First, and mostly, I “mom the day” every day by just being present. As a young mom, that’s one of the things that I’ve had to tell myself is the first step to being a good mom. I didn’t have my now 7-year-old knowing the rules of mothering. Like any parent’s experience, it was a process I had to learn and continue learning everyday.
I was 17 when I gave birth to a 6 pound 3 ounce baby and was unaware of the challenges that came with this beautiful life. Shortly after my son was born his father made it vey clear he would not be up to the challenge of fatherhood. I do look back sometimes and wonder why I continued to stay with someone who didn’t appreciate me and abused me verbally and physically, and I can still feel that fear of being alone. My parents were there to help me the best they could, but, after a few months they moved back to Mexico.
As mothers we want to shield our kids from pain. I did that the best I could. I was constantly moving and so unstable it began to affect me mentally. The instability of my relationship and my living situation began to affect my emotional wellbeing and, over time, I developed depression.
I continued to push forward, daily, just to take my son out to the park; make breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and to provide him with the unconditional love and attention he needed. I had no control over any other aspect of my life, so, I poured myself into his growth. He knew his “ABCs”, his numbers, and colors, and was so advanced by the time he was in preschool, you would have never thought I was teaching him while in line for our food stamps in the county office, or while we walked back from the bus station in the middle of the night. It was tough, and behind closed doors I cried and I suffered in silence.
My depression manifested in anxiety and it was something I hid from everyone for a long time. I had to be very strong on the outside but my demons were devouring me on the inside. I had to make changes in my life in order to deal with these very real problems. Medication was not a viable option for me as I wanted to be there mentally and in full form for my son. I took up meditation. I started eating better. I began exercising and focused on positive thinking. I sought out the most natural means possible to cleanse myself of my weaknesses. I did what I could, but I’m not going to lie; years of abuse damaged me and, to this day, I suffer the results. I battled on with my Mother’s words in my ear that “before I’m a woman, I’m a mother.” That helped me realize the damage I was inflicting on my child by staying in an abusive relationship.
Finally, I left my son’s father. I left him one last time and never looked back. I did it for my son. If it weren’t for him I would still be there. He gave me the strength and desire to want to do better for him and for myself. I’m now 25 and happily married to a man that loves me, but, most importantly, he loves my son. He has been the father my son so much needed. I never dated or got involved with another man because “before I was a woman, I was a mother.” I couldn’t think of being with a man just for my own desire. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes again. I always say that I waited for God to send me an angel and he did. He sent me a man that adores me. He sent my Carlo an amazing role model. Single parenting was all I knew. I’ve had to learn to co-parent and adjust to my new life.
Parenting is a challenge and every day I learn. I’ve come so far from that scared 17 year-old that was completely clueless. Being a young mother shaped my life. It shaped my character. It changed who I was and has shaped me into the woman I am. I’m currently 9 months pregnant with my second child and am happy to share this experience of a growing healthy family with my husband and my Carlo. Starting as a young mom was the best thing that could have happened to me. I found strength in myself I didn’t know I had. I learned priceless lessons I’ll carry to the end. Being a mom is my blessing. It is my motivation. I “mom it” every day.
~ Katherine Thomson