As I mentioned previously, I became a mother before I even graduated high school.
It was a lot to take on in high school, even for the most capable individuals.
Maybe I got myself in that situation because I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I had unrealistic expectations of motherhood. I have four brothers and three sisters, so I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. I knew there would be long, sleepless nights and crying sessions that would stress me out to the max. I knew that having a baby would cause a financial burden I wasn’t prepared for.
I was expecting my baby to love me unconditionally. I had an unrealistic image of my child and I gallivanting in the sunset, hand in hand, on our way to reach all of the goals I had planned for my life. I was wrong.
Life was hard. Really hard. People were judgmental that I became a mother so young. I truly learned the meaning of life as a single, young mother. My son’s father wasn’t around consistently and didn’t support my son financially. My support foundation was shaky, at best.
The biggest eye opener to me was how alone I felt in my struggles. I was sad, overwhelmingly so. There was a constant battle with my family. I know that I was responsible for half of that. It was difficult to assert myself as a mother, capable of making sound decisions for my child, when I was still being mothered myself. Sometimes, I got the impression that I must have been doing something MAJORLY wrong because I always felt criticized. I was sensitive to criticism because I KNEW I was a good mother. It just seemed like I took a nose dive into a life I wasn’t prepared for.
It didn’t come as any surprise to me when I ended up in a home for teen mothers. There were benefits and drawbacks to living in a home full of hormonal teenagers and their little bundles of joy. It was a new program and I was only the second girl to come live in the home. We had a discipline plan that reminded me of the one I had in kindergarten. It was met by much resistance from the other girls and I.
I can give you a list of reasons why the home didn’t work out for me, but I’d be wasting my breath. The point is I wasn’t prepared for the home and the home wasn’t prepared for me. However, the home did expose me to one woman that gave me the support I’d been looking for my entire life. I will always be thankful for that part of the story.
My first memory of her is what one might expect of a warm and caring individual. She was a staff member at the home for teen mothers. One morning, I woke up to a breakfast casserole that taught me I really do like casseroles. She was supportive in a nonjudgemental way that wasn’t typical with other staff members. The best part was she had tons of experience raising children. It was refreshing. It was hard to be in a home full of women that were just a few years older than I was, raising a child while listening to their biting little criticisms about things that just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me, when none of them had experience raising children of their own. I really bonded with that woman–she seemed to get me in a way no one else did, in and outside of the home.
When things went south in the home, she was my soft place to land. The Miller family took Gabriel and I in and treated us just like family. We were given a bedroom of our own. They helped with child care, provided the things for us that I wasn’t financially able to, and used their problem solving skills to help us get to the place we needed to be. She has been a second mother to my husband and I, from the day that she opened her door to us. She’s Mama Miller.
Over the years, I’ve gained more appreciation and respect for Mama Miller. As I’ve grown, I have realized how BIG it was that she was willing to shoulder our burdens with us. She’s been supportive in all arenas during all of the struggles in my adult life, even the ones I brought upon myself.
There will probably be more to this story later.