” A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation out of the bricks others have thrown at her“~ anon.
I have had a super rough week trying to adjust to my new schedule. With my daughter still getting over being sick and my homework quickly piling up, I have been frazzled and twitching. I did manage to get many things accomplished. However, my patience has been tested all week by people around me.
I am not sure why people need to stare at me while I’m on campus pushing a stroller, but they do. This past week, some jerk guy decided to make fun of me for pushing a kid in a stroller on campus. He mumbled things to his friend as they hurried past me. My friend over heard it and told me parts of what he said. I was ready to pounce but I refrained.
I had no choice but to bring Bella to my night class, sociology of reproduction. We had a lecture and a movie about childbirth. My daughter sat quietly watching Netflix on my phone and munching on a granola bar. I was totally entertained by the faces I got and the comments. Though most people find my daughter adorable, I know its not the norm. seeing a small child on a college campus. That’s cool. That’s fine. But leave it at that and don’t make me feel like a weirdo for having a child.
What more people should be saying to themselves is “wow, look a young mom can still do normal things like attend school and hold a job”. I get increasingly frustrated by girls who become pregnant and then throw away all of their ambitions. I strive to set a good example and reach out to other young mothers. Though I do still struggle to make everything work, I am not ashamed of being a mother. I am proud that I have been able to follow my dreams. It worries me when I don’t see many moms. Not because I am expecting an epidemic of teen moms. I just know that the ones who are out there and are not married also don’t likely choose to follow through on getting an education. I never mean to put anyone down. I do not think I am better than anyone for having an education or certain privileges others might not. It just worries me how few girls are encouraged by society and the education system to get a degree and eventually a career.
The biggest problem I have seen with the education system (mostly because of the state) is that there is very little support or encouragement for mothers to stay in school. There are not many scholarships for single or young parents and financial aid is scarce for students because of budget cuts to the state. The facilities like childcare and after hour care are dwindling because of dropping budgets or no state workers and many colleges don’t even offer it. There are very few colleges that have family housing or spouse housing. Families just don’t fit into the college equation. I suppose that these systems just haven’t changed with the changing times.
As much as 40% of babies are born to unmarried couples over the last few years. The percentage has steadily increased over the last three decades alone. This could be due to economics, culture differences, absent parents or religious differences. Some couples are choosing to have and raise children without the institution of marriage. Yet young adults are still encouraged to earn a degree out of high school. If not, where will their income be earned from and what kind of family will they be able to support with a minimum wage job? My choice was clear. I researched colleges when I was 17 and had a newborn. I was not just determined to head off to college to prove a point to anyone. I knew if I had no parents and no father for my child, I needed to be independent and earn a steady income for my child. That way we could live comfortable when she was growing up and I could still fulfill the goals I had for myself.
Even though I have researched and inquired to many colleges about their facilities for parenting students, I have yet to figure out a main idea on why there is so little support available. Surely this is the twenty first century and I am not the first or last teen to get pregnant. It is also not a new thing that families are being started at a younger age. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped according to recent studies since the 1990’s. But it still exists. And its nothing like MTV’s TEEN MOM. There are real girls out there. Who are dreaming of goals beyond being a mother. Who are in relationships or not but are happy with their decision to be a mother. So why is it that so many states in America offer little assistance or aid to them?
I am not referring to aid as in welfare. What I mean is actual support groups. Benefits through jobs. Tax credits for being single mothers in school. Schools that offer classes built around daycare hours. A real certified daycare facility on each campus with its own budget and workers. Trained staff. Did you know that new York state offers a SUNY grant to help pay for daycare?
I don’t make this stuff up people. I am tired of being “One more teen mom”.
I want to be “One less statistic”.