“My mom was so mad,” she said. “She just couldn’t believe I was pregnant. She kicked me out. It was a really hard time for me. I moved in with my boyfriend.”
Her pregnancy was an accident. And at age sixteen, God knows, your whole life is an accident waiting to happen. Especially if you’ve been engaging in the same extra-ciricular activities your peers have—and I don’t mean basket-weaving.
As soon as it happened, her boyfriend swore he’d stick around forever. He bought her a ring, even got a tattoo. But sixteen-year-old boys don’t know how to make promises, and forever lasts longer than a tattoo. Before her second trimester, he bolted for Tennessee.
“He just didn’t come home one day,” she said. “My body kept changing, I felt abandoned, I couldn’t focus on school, so I just quit going.”
A few years went by. The sixteen-year-old turned into a twenty-year-old. And life priorities became startlingly clear with age. She wanted more for her son than minimum wage.
“My cousin,” she said. “She’s an X-ray tech. She makes decent money. She raises two kids by herself, and doesn’t struggle to pay the bills. I thought to myself one day, ‘hey, I could do that.’”
And so, she enrolled in a school intended to help her hurry through the classes she needed. It wasn’t easy. Going to high school is one thing. Raising a son, working full-time, and finding time for sleep is another.
According to her: “It was hard. My brain felt like it was going to frickin’ blow up, man.”
She got a tutor. She spent long hours studying, shoving useless information into every orifice of her mind. And by that, I mean god-awful, high-school algebraic formulas.
Such as: A equals P, times one plus R over N, raised to the NT, divided by the square root of I-Am-Never-Gonna-Use-This-Stuff-In-Real-Life-Please-Stab-Me-In-The-Frontal-Lobe.
She made it.
She showed me her hallway photo collection. “Here’s my graduation picture.”
In the photo, she wears a blue cap and gown. She looks dignified, even in her funny hat. Next to it: there’s one of her smiling. She’s in pink medical scrubs, holding a little boy whose face is cute enough to go on a cereal box.
“I’m happy,” she said. “I mean, I’ve found out I have more power than I thought I did. And I’ve learned that it’s never too late to start working on yourself, and respecting yourself. Sometimes, I just wish I could tell every young girl that.'”
Well, ma’am, I know it’s not much.
But you just told a few.