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Stefanie M., Teen Mother MAG
I recentlyinterviewed eighteen-year-old Stefanie M. She provided a newinterpretation of many social themes and furnished insightfuladvice for teens.
Stefanie, how did you tellyour parents you were pregnant?
I didn't have to. WhenI went to a pregnancy center to start getting some help andattend childbirth classes, they sent me a letter with theirreturn address in big, bright letters. My dad got the mailbefore I did and confronted me.
How did yourboyfriend react?
He started crying. He wasn't ready tobecome a father and cried out of fear. After he saw the babyon the ultrasound, he was more thanexcited.
How did you feel when you found outyou were going to be a mom?
I was excited and scaredand confused all at the same time. I started to prepareimmediately.
Did people condemn you for gettingpregnant at sixteen?
Yes, especially in school. Peopletalked behind my back and no one had the decency to talk to meabout it. People had so much time on their hands they decidedto spend their free time talking about me.
Whatmade you decide to stay in your high school instead of goingto a school specifically designed for teen mothers?
Because if I went to the other school, I would have had todrop all my AP classes, which people were already telling me Ishould do because I wouldn't be able to pass them and takecare of a baby. I had to stay in my AP classes to prove themwrong.
Do you feel you have hindered yourselffrom accomplishing your goals?
No, I still graduatedfrom high school (and passed my AP classes), and I am going tocollege. At my age those are the only goals I really have. Iwill graduate from college and become a teacher.
Whatis a "normal" day in you life?
I get up atsix to get ready for school. My boyfriend comes over at sevento wake the baby and get him ready to take to day care. I headfor the freeway and sit through an hour of stop-and-gotraffic. As a full-time student at Arizona State University, Ihave four classes right now. I go to school from 8:40 until12:30 and usually get home around 1:30. My boyfriend and myson meet me at home. I watch my soap at two and by three myson and I are asleep on the couch. When I get up, I start onmy homework. I usually have 20 to 40 hours of homework a week.When the baby wakes up, I put on his "Teletubbies"tape so I can finish my work. Then I fix dinner, we eat, and Icontinue my homework. I am by myself from about 2:30 until6:30 when dinner is finished because everyone is at work andmy boyfriend is at baseball practice. Around eight o'clock Igive the baby a bath and start settling him down for bed. Somedays I go to work after school and then come home and start myhomework. We usually try and read a book to the baby duringthe day. He really enjoys books.
How do youwork at two jobs, take university courses and still be amother to your eighteen-month-old son?
I don't know.Sometimes you just gotta do what you gottado.
How do you feel about people who look downon you because you have a child at such a youngage?
Albert Einstein said that anyone who has nevermade a mistake has never tried anything new. Not that my sonis a mistake, but I do understand the downfalls of premaritalsex. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet and it is only bythe grace of God that no one finds out about it. I know thisand so when people say things behind my back or give me dirtylooks when they see me with my son, I let it roll right off myback. People are entitled to their own opinion and the FirstAmendment grants them the right to express that opinion. Theycan do or say whatever they want as long as my son and I arenot in danger. To answer the question, I don't care about whatother people think of me.
What do you say tothose teens who want a child?
You've got plenty oftime. There is no harm in waiting until you have stability andthe right person to share that experience with. Life is a longroad, save some gas before crossing that bridge (especiallysince gas prices are so high).
Do you have anyadvice to give young moms who aren't in school and are onwelfare?
If they have a job, it is unfortunate theycouldn't stay in school. If they are simply staying homecollecting a welfare check, they are the ones who give teenmoms a bad rap. The welfare system was designed to supplementa low-wage job and provide enough of a cushion to allow peopleto get on their feet. Welfare should not be used as a primarysource of income. While they are on welfare they should gettheir G.E.D and attend a trade school to get a higher-payingjob. Welfare should be used as a life jacket, enough to keepyou from drowning, but not enough to get you back on theboat.
Do you have any form of governmentassistance?
The baby is covered by the state's healthcare system. But I have a job and go to school. That's all theassistance I receive.
What are your feelingstoward people who assume that because you have a child, youare destined to fail?
Again, they can think anythingthey want. William Jennings Bryan said that destiny is not amatter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thingto wait for, it is a thing to achieve. I proved my senior yearI was not going to be a failure to many, many people. I didn'thave a lot of support from the people at my high school. Iwill continue to prove them wrong when I send a collegegraduation announcement to all those who said I would neveramount to anything. My high-school science teacher says I'mindomitable. I must uphold my title. By the way, did I mentionI have a 3.75 G.P.A. and am currently I'm getting straightA's?
Has there been a time in your life sinceyou had your son that you felt as though you had taken on toomuch to handle?
College classes are very demanding.With or without my son, I would have times when I would feeloverwhelmed. My son merely brings enjoyment to thesemoments.
How do you refrain from giving up on your dreams?
You gotta do what you've gottado. My son is now every motivation for me to accomplish allthat I want. My every decision will impact his life also, so Imust keep track of my goals to give him better opportunitiesin life.
Do you have any words for the teenmothers who have given up on their dreams because they becamepregnant?
You can do anything you think of. Every greataccomplishment was once called impossible. Why not defy andsucceed. No one will expect you to be anything or do anything.The greatest feeling you will ever experience is doingsomething. Proving someone wrong is an emancipationproclamation - you will finally be freed from the bondage ofdoubt.
If one sticks to her dreams, no matterwhat obstacles get in the way, anything can be achieved.