I can’t tell you her name. She swore me to secrecy. So, I’m going to call her Patricia. She’s an Alabama-born girl, with more brains than a dog has ticks.
Patricia is twenty-three, works full time, goes to college, and she has a seven-year-old son.
“When I got pregnant,” Patricia says. “I thought my life was over, you know? Like, I couldn’t believe I was having baby at sixteen. And what was I gonna do with my life?”
It was an adolescent mistake. She tried to hide her growing belly from her mother, but it didn’t work. Her mother was no fool. Finally, she sat Patricia down and gave her the third-degree. Patricia hung her head in shame.
“I expected my mom to be disappointed in me, but she wasn’t. She was all excited. I was like, ‘But Mom, I’m only sixteen.’ She just told me, ‘Everything’s gonna be okay, Patricia. A baby is always a blessing.'”
But as it happened, life’s blessings were beginning to run thin. Before Patricia’s son was born, her mother died in a head-on collision on the interstate.
“I was messed up,” says Patricia. “And it was really scary being by myself at night, thinking I’m gonna have a baby like—alone. I didn’t know who to ask for help, so I called my teacher.”
Enter Mrs. Murphy: a churchgoing teacher who is as active in her youth group as she is in her classroom. A woman who’s as determined as she is smart.
Murphy’s first move was to take Patricia to church. The small assembly welcomed the girl with wide-open casserole dishes.
They threw baby showers, took Patricia shopping for new clothes, and if that wasn’t enough, Mrs. Murphy scheduled a rotation of women to stay with her at home—nightshift, and dayshift.
“I was never alone,” Patricia says. “And when I had my baby, I had like, five or six women in the delivery room with me, cheering me on. I missed my mom so bad.”
After the birth, Mrs. Murphy moved in with her. For the first few years she helped raise Patricia’s son, and kept young Patricia focused on her schoolwork. According to Patricia, if it hadn’t been for Mrs. Murphy, she would’ve probably given up living.
Patricia is an adult. She’s about to graduate college. She’s excited—though there is still sadness in her. She misses her mother. But, she has a new family. They’re not blood, but they love her no less. And sometimes, it even seems like Patricia’s son has a whole handful of mothers.
I asked Patricia what she’s majoring in. Without a hesitation, she says, “Oh, I wanna be a teacher.”
Well, Patricia, I’d like to point something out, if I may.
You already are, darling.