There is nothing I am missing by being a teen parent. I can’t imagine life without my daughter and I wouldn’t even want to try to imagine it. If it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t be in school, wouldn’t have graduated high school and wouldn’t be the hard working, determined woman I am today.
I got pregnant my senior year of high school and it was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I was ignored by friends that were too busy going to parties, skipping school and just being teenagers. At times this bothered me, but it made me realize who my true friends were. I saw how easily people pushed me away because I was pregnant and I could no longer do things that they were doing. I couldn’t go to senior party, I didn’t participate in senior skip day, and I wasn’t out drinking on the weekends. At first, this was extremely hard to deal with since I come from a small town and these were people I had gone to school with and been close to my whole life. It was as if I didn’t know what life was like without them, but I would soon find out. Maybe I expected them to understand something they simply couldn’t because they weren’t in my shoes, maybe I assumed that they would stick by my side the way I had stuck by theirs whenever they needed me, or maybe I just thought they were people that they turned out not to be.
As soon as my daughter was born I realized nothing else mattered anymore. She was my life and the moment she came into this world it’s like everything just fell into place for me. All my fears quickly went away and everything just clicked. Two years later I see things I didn’t see when I was pregnant my senior year of high school and even before that. I now see what life is all about. It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough, it’s being strong when you feel like giving up, it’s about the future not the past, it’s coming home to a child that thinks the world of you even when you feel like you’re not that great, it’s about that sparkle in your child’s eyes when they tell you they love you, it’s about the feeling of being called mama. Weekends spent partying with friends doesn’t come close to the feeling of cuddling up with 2 ½ year old and having her roll over telling you she loves you. I don’t work a 9-5 job. I barely go out. I don’t go to a four year private school. I get paid with pure love for everything I do, I wouldn’t give up teaching my daughter to ride a bike for anything in this world, and eventually (hopefully in January) I will be transferring to a four year school. Right now being at a community college less than 10 minutes away from my daughter’s daycare eases my fear of leaving her for eight hours while I’m in school. Being a waitress and working hard for my money beats sitting at a desk all day doing nothing.
Although many of mine and Jazlyn’s days are spent at doctors and physical therapy due to her health issues, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. She has impacted my life in so many ways. I don’t know what kind of dreams I would have for myself if I didn’t have my daughter. I don’t know if I’d have any dreams at all. But right now I know my dreams and I know I am very close to reaching them. I hope to transfer to Wheelock College soon and major in Child Life. My ultimate goal is to become a child life specialist, working with terminally ill children. For my daughter, going to countless doctors and specialists is part of her everyday life. I am trying my best to show her that there is more to life then tests, therapies, medicine, and doctors. I would like to pass this on to other children as well. Although it may be a while before I reach some of my dreams and goals, I know I can do it. I know this because I have a constant reminder of it every day, my daughter. People may look at me and think I am missing out on things because I’m a teen mother. What they don’t know is I’m also looking at them, thinking that they’re completely crazy and maybe they’re the ones missing out on the important things in life.
Tabitha is twenty years old, and the mother of 2 year old Jazlyn. She is a member of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy's Teen Parent Policy Advisory Board.