‘I ejected my guy from my parents’ home right away. During my pregnancy, he had been having affairs. ‘I had my doubts about bringing a child into a broken home.’ ‘You will attain your ambitions,’ says a single teen mother.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was 18 years old, a recent college dropout, unemployed, and living with my partner at my parents’ house.”

We had both failed our first semester of university and decided to drop out. We had no idea what we were doing with our life because neither of us had received any credit for our courses. At the time, I had no intention of becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, the two little pink lines chose to appear on a pregnancy test one day. We walked to the store to get six more tests to be sure. Even though every one of them was positive, it didn’t seem genuine.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Gunther

I eventually reached out to my sister, who has always been my rock and defender. She came over, assisted me in scheduling a doctor’s appointment, and eventually informed our parents.

My sister, boyfriend, and I all sat down with my mother a few days later. My sister had to deliver the news to her since I was too terrified even to gather the guts to say anything. She was excited, much to our surprise. My mother was searching for an excuse to retire, and she had always dreamed of having grandchildren to look after while her children worked. This was her chance, and she was overjoyed. She was so delighted that she informed my father shortly after returning home from a 16-hour workday. He was not pleased with the situation.

We couldn’t ignore the subject for much longer, so my parents got down with my boyfriend and me to talk about our options, why we decided to have the kid, and how we planned to care for it. I knew I had options, and I considered them, but I had always wanted to be a mother since I was a little kid, and I knew it would be impossible for me. In her late 30s, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (fortunately, early). Knowing this and how difficult ovarian cancer is to detect, I never knew if I’d get another chance to have a child.

After several failed job searches, I recognized it would be impossible once my terrible all-day nausea set in — I couldn’t even keep water down. My boyfriend got a job, and things began to improve for us. We devised a strategy for the future. It all came crashing down at that point.

I discovered that my boyfriend had been cheating on me even during my pregnancy. I was unsure what to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be in a relationship like this, so I ejected him from my parents’ home right away. For the remainder of my pregnancy, he relocated 6 hours away.

Anger, anxiety, despair, and embarrassment were all strong feelings in this situation. I wondered if I was doing the right thing by bringing a baby into a home that was already in disarray. Even though I had a lot of financial, emotional, and physical support during my young single parenthood adventure, I still didn’t feel I was doing enough. I felt as if I had failed my child even before she was born.

We welcomed our baby girl into the world on a chilly October afternoon. She stormed in, adamant that she didn’t want to be there. Her father was present for her birth, and we could co-parent long enough to spend the next two days in the hospital together. My daughter and I were discharged, and her father returned to his house, which was 6 hours away. This was when the raw feelings began to surface – this time, it was terror. I was frightened. What had I done, exactly? Was this something I’d be able to handle on my own? I was still completely reliant on my parents. Despite the circumstances, I realized I had no choice but to keep going and attempt to give her the best life possible.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Gunther

We lived with my parents for three years. With no experience, finding work was challenging, and I could only secure a part-time retail job. I was also able to enroll in college courses while working part-time. This offered me a glimmer of optimism, but I was still trapped. This job wasn’t getting me anywhere, and I needed to earn more money to get out of this hole.

I was fortunate enough to be hired as a full-time nanny by a fantastic family. They allowed me to bring my daughter with me whenever I wanted or needed, encouraging me to complete my education. I could save enough money from this work after building up my previously nonexistent credit to buy my first car – since, despite my parents’ enormous assistance, I didn’t get my car until I was 21. I felt great about it for a few months until I started seeing all of my friends graduate from college. Their social media posts made me feel like a failure once more. While my high school classmates were well on their way to grad school and post-college professions, I still had barely enough credits to earn my Associates’s degree.

My daughter’s father eventually returned, and we could co-parent as best we could, but it wasn’t perfect. I felt like a disappointment because of all that was going on. I felt like a bad role model for my daughter, and I wanted to give up. I didn’t, though. Instead, I put forth a lot of effort and found another full-time nanny position with another wonderful caring family. This new work was the missing puzzle piece in my life that I had no idea I was yearning for.

Courtesy of Shannan Janet Photography

I accumulated enough money with this work to move out into an apartment with my best friend. We acquired a lovely apartment in a terrific neighborhood. Despite my parents’ opposition to me ‘spending’ money on rent, I realized I needed to get out of their house and discover true independence.

Unfortunately, my roommate and I became another statistic: we stopped being friends after living together. I was at a loss for what to do because I couldn’t afford rent on my own, and my mental health was rapidly deteriorating owing to extreme anxiety and sadness.

Instead of giving up, I continued on my way. I had stopped taking college courses and was at a halt in my education at this time. Still, I knew I had a stable job and could afford to fulfill the one goal I had set for myself before becoming pregnant: to buy a home in a good school district before my daughter entered kindergarten. I completed the task! My first home was purchased! My daughter would attend a great school and live in a nice neighborhood! Why did I continue to believe I was a failure? Why was it that I was still putting myself down in my mind? Everyone was encouraging, but I ignored their compliments, assuming they were trying to be kind.

Courtesy of Shannan Janet Photography

My peers were getting married, having babies, purchasing houses with their partners, and having wonderful career and travel prospects when I graduated from graduate school. Not only that, but I’d think about the other single parents who had overcome adversity. You’ve seen them on social media: the parents who managed to graduate college with honors while working several jobs and caring for their children. They were the ones that continually made me doubt myself and make me wonder why I couldn’t achieve everything. Why was it that I was letting my kid down? Why couldn’t I do it as they did? No matter how much I accomplished or how many goals I met, I couldn’t shake the sensation of being a letdown and a bad role model for my kid.

I’ll return to college at some point. I will eventually finish my classes and receive my diploma. Eventually…

I won’t do it because everyone else is doing it or feel obligated to do it, but I will do it for myself and my kid. It will be completed, no matter how long it takes.

Time is a strange creature. The way we think about traditional life is changing, but it hasn’t progressed very far. I may have done things in the wrong order and may not be where I want to be, but I’m precisely where I need to be for the time being, and I’ll get there eventually.

Deep down, I know my daughter does not perceive me as a failure. Every day, she astounds me with her incredible kindness, compassion, generosity, and intelligence, all of which I know she has only learned from me. That motivates me to keep going on the days when I want to give up.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Gunther

While I had a lot of help and support, that doesn’t take away from the fights I’ve had to fight or the obstacles I’ve had to overcome. I’ve made it this far because I put in a lot of effort and realized that giving up was not an option.

Those intrusive thoughts and emotions of failure continue to plague me. Some days, I still want to give up. I still question if I made the correct decision when I became her mommy when I look at her. Every day, I fight myself in my brain, but I also know I can’t give up. I’ve seen the bottom, and I’ve already made it this far, so there’s only one way to go from here.

So, if you or someone you know is experiencing similar sensations or thoughts, know that you are not alone. Just because you haven’t reached a stage in life that many of your contemporaries have, doesn’t imply you aren’t capable of doing so. Please take your time. Request assistance. Remind yourself that you are capable of achieving your objectives. Remember that no matter where you are in life or how backward you may have approached the traditional way of life, you achieve incredible things.

My life isn’t inspiring, and my narrative isn’t extraordinary, but that’s precisely why I’m writing this: I know there are many others out there who feel the same way I do. I want to reassure you that you’re not alone. One day, you will achieve your objectives. If you’re feeling down, remember me, the strange lady on the Internet, and tell yourself,’ she believes in me.'”

Courtesy of Gabrielle Gunther

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