resilience - noun - the power or ability to recover readily from adversity.
There I was, standing in the doctor’s office alongside my mother and my highschool ‘beau’…standing there, with bated breath, awaiting the results of “the test.” A few eternities later, the nurse walked over and, with megaphone to mouth announced, “IT. IS. POSITIVE.” *cue the doom song*
In the days before all these fancy acronyms of OMG, LOL, ROTF, etc….I thought to myself, “OH MY GOD” because in that very instant, I could hear my mother’s heart literally rip away from her sternum and disperse into tiny little droplets that were now falling all over the cold, white floors in the doctor’s office.
At that very moment, my life was changed.
Over the next few days, I experienced some of the most emotionally grueling events that I’d ever faced up to that point of my life. Having to hear and see my mom sob in her bed and knowing that I was the source of that pain stung…..DEEP! You see, she had been a teen mom….heck, she’d had me just 16 years ago at the age of 16 and life had NOT been a box of chocolates for her, for us….but here she was, just 32 years old and becoming a grandmother. Then there was the family meeting, the one where I had to tell my grandparents, that I too, had become another statistic. I can still replay every moment of that meeting in my mind…so much so, that as I type this, I can see my grandmother, God rest her soul, sitting at the dining room table with her face buried in her hands as she cried and shook her leg uncontrollably…up and down, up and down, up and down….I was lost in the movement….actually, I was just LOST, but I understood. I mean, I truly understood. My grandparents had done everything in their power to raise me up right. Always there for me, in conjunction with my wonderful mother, to give me everything I needed. And I’d let them down. “Sorry,” wouldn’t cut it….I had to show them.
A few days later, after having dealt with the initial shock, my mother casually walked into my bedroom carrying a bowl of red seedless grapes and we shared them as we shared our thoughts. But, of all the things she said to me that day, of the utmost importance were these words, “I hope you know that my standards for you have not and will not change.” That might have been one of the most defining moments in my life. It was the moment that I realized that I could still make my mother and grandparents proud. That I would have to decide, at this moment, how my present would dictate my future, our future. And although I was highly inexperienced, in over my head and too young to be in the position I was in….I realized I wasn’t too young to bounce back….to recover…to be resilient!
And wouldn’t you know it, 6 1/2 years and a few bumps and bruises later, I did it!!! I handed my mother my Master’s Degree…and she cried, we all did, sans my grandmother, who’d passed away 8 months before I’d received my Bachelor’s degree…but this time, I didn’t mind the tears…I didn’t mind them one bit!
Be resilient and reach for the stars!!!
Candis Jackson is Founder and CEO of The Teen Mommy.