Monday, October 5, 2009

Becoming a (young) mother

Dedicated to all the young mothers who stepped up to the plate and became responsible dedicated young Aruban mothers!

After reading the current issue from New Beginnings which is an offspring from La Leche League International, I felt inspired to write about how becoming a mother affects women..especially young women and teen mothers. New Beginnings is based mostly on breastfeeding but also includes articles on topics such as how to juggle spending time with your significant other while also meeting the needs of your breasfed child/older children.

(Excerpts from Issue 2, 2009 New Beginnings)

As women, young or not so young, we start developing a personality from puberty onward. A personality that is ever changing and fluctuating until we reach to a point where we know who we are as individuals and what we want out of life as women. That point can be reached at a precociously young age or later into young adulthood or after that. Where motherhood is concerned, this is a major life-change that any female, regardless of age, race, nationality and socio-economic status can be unprepared for even in the event of a planned pregnancy that had "been in the works" for years even. Many of us hardly prepare to become mothers at all. It challenges our dreams, our goals in life, and who we are as individuals. Many of us discover only after we have given birth that becoming a mother involves a whole new way of being. Very little that we were good at for example, in the world of work or school can be transferred to the world of mothering. It can come as quite a shock. Those very abilities, which were valued at work and or school, can feel useless when we are holding our needy newborns. Babies challenge our identities as competent workers. It's no wonder that many new mothers feel confused.

When I was searching on the internet for pictures of young mothers, the depiction I often found was of a teenage girl holding her baby with a sad face. While I do not advocate teenage pregnancy, I have been in that same situation. I got pregnant at the tender age of 18, and it was this unfortunate, unplanned pregnancy that woke me up and made me stand up for the welfare of my daughter. I can't even count on four hands how many girls I knew and went to school with that is either pregnant or has a child. And yet, what do I see? Do I see the same picture of this sad girl holding her baby and regretting that she kept the baby? I can say definitely not. In many many instances, where friends or acquaintances of mine from school had a baby, they took their new found 'lot in life' and ran with it.

I would like to mention a few cases of teenage pregnancy that did not end up in failure and total disaster as is often depicted by the media. A dear colleague of mine had a 16-year-old daughter who had her head straight on her shoulders. This young woman got pregnant at 16 while still being in school of course. What happened? Well, it's an inspirational story that shows you, you make of your future what you want. Nothing great just happens to you. This same teenage mom, decided to go to night school AND she nursed her son, and is still currently nursing her boy that is 14 months old. She excels at school and is at the top of her class. Fortunately, her partner also took responsibility for his actions and became a responsible father and supports and loves them both to death. This young woman, takes full care of her toddler the whole day, cooking for him, cleaning up behind him, educating and stimulating his intellect.

Another mom I know that gave birth at a young age is a friend I went to school with. After going through a rough time with her partner, she decided to stand up and take charge of her son's well being. She continued college and worked full time. She has since succeeded and is such an inspiration to me as a woman and as a young mother.

Another mom who also got married and conceived at a young age, took a different turn. She decided to become a full time stay-at-home mom, which in my opinion, is one of the best and most fulfilling career choices a woman can make! She also fully breastfed her infant and continues to play a major role in her daughter's intellectual stimulation!

One last mom I mention, is a young woman who got pregnant at nearly 19. She went through a horrendous relationship with the father of her child. After the baby's birth, she decided to make a decision that would impact her child's and her own future tremendously. She severed the remains of the relationship. She began all over again, just her and her daughter of 3 months. She worked full time and breastfed her daughter for over a year. She enrolled with an International Organization to complete and receive her certification of Childbirth Education. She also became a breastfeeding activist and is a board member of our local Breastfeeding Organization, Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba. She's in works of setting up a private practice to give Childbirth Education Classes and various other services related to childbirth and breastfeeding. This same woman, who had lost hopes of ever having a complete family and a loving father to help raise her daughter, fell in love with her co-worker who had witnessed all of the above mentioned and had secretly loved her and her unborn baby all along. They courted and after realizing and seeing how that gentleman loved this woman's daughter as his own, she married him and it remains that way up to today... Ladies, that woman is me...

Young mothers, be it teenagers or young adults, wed or unwed, take your new found circumstances in life and make the most out of it. We may be statistics in the sense of our age, but that's till where it reaches. We have grown and matured from our experiences. We have become tenacious and resolute in the care of our child. We prove that life does not have to go downhill after an unplanned/teenage pregnancy

You go girls!

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring stories indeed... it's the one thing we need to fight for actually... in Aruba's society sometimes you are marked like "finished" when you become a teenage mother... and then many of those women fall into a cycle of bad awful relationships, unwanted pregnancies and dropping their kids off at the grandparents leaving the childrearing to the grandparents or strangers. I really think it's important that becoming a mother is seen as a special role that should move you (woman or teenager) to take charge and be tenacious and assertive for yourself and most of all for your child. This would also help protect many children today from very bad choices later in life, because they learn from what the mother does with her situation.