So hard

I have so many ideas.

So many dreams.

So many hopes.

So many things I want to do.

So much POTENTIAL.

But it’s so hard…

It’s hard getting a job when there are a million barriers. I’m still trying. I have casual work, which, to be honest, is nearly simply childminding. I do love the children I look after, but that is not a career. That is hardly a job. My brain is dying.

I want to work. I hate it when single mothers are portrayed as not wanting to work. Getting into the workforce is hard when you have minimal resources.

Take me. I have to work school hours, school days. Anything out of that is out of my reach. For many jobs, I need a car. That requires money. Money requires a job. Job requires a car. Car requires money. Money requires….You get it.

Meanwhile, food still needs to be put on the table.

It’s, excuse my French, shit.

It would help without the extra judgement and anti-single mother government measures.

I have so many million things I would like to do…….And none of them seem to be within my reach.

Ghetto livin’

It might sound cool in a song, but there is nothing fancy about living in a ghetto.

Okay, it wasn’t like a Brazilian favela neighbourhood,  nor was it surrounded by barbed wire and military policemen, but this is what anybody who’s ever lived in such a neighbourhood calls it. Ghetto. I’ve lived there.

Whenever I talk about it, I always feel guilty because I know that someone, somewhere, has it worse. Except for last Friday – I’ve recently become friends with a girl who lives in government housing, and when I walked into her unit for the first time that day, I gasped.

‘Wow’, I said, ‘this is really nice. It looks like a privately rented apartment’.

To which she scoffed and said, ‘I haven’t always lived here. It hasn’t always being like this. This is absolutely glamorous’.

‘Where did you live before?’ I asked her.

‘In a ghetto.’

And that’s where I immediately understood what she meant, even though she’d only recently come into my life and I really didn’t know her that well. But if you’ve lived in a violent neighbourhood with doors that hardly serve their purpose, the police visiting your block as often as they can be bothered (which is sometimes far too late for the unfortunate) and cracking walls that surprisingly have a lot of excuses why they never get fixed, that turn of phrase and that expression could only mean one thing. We didn’t need to explain any more after that.

We just talked.

Mainly, we got to talking about why, single mothers with children, we were housed in places where I would think twice about housing my worst enemy. We could only think of one reason. These people, the beaurocrats who decided our fate and our memories with one flick of their pen and then went home to their dinners and families, didn’t know us personally.

They profiled us. They saw, young single mother written on a piece of paper, and they did not care to differentiate whether we were meth addicted lunatics or women who had being left to raise their children alone.

I sit here today in my, as I call it, mansion – walls not peeling, bathroom not flooding, neighbours not off murdering each other, nobody banging on my door or screaming obscenities, and I wonder how, with the flick of a pen, a beaurocrat stole three and a half years of my life, of my friends’ life. I can walk outside of my house right now and not worry for my safety, but sometimes I still dream of those brick walls and the screams, the screaming that fills my ears.

I wonder why nobody ever talks about this. I wonder what I ever did, other than have a child young, to live there. I wonder where that lady who signed me into there is now. I don’t think I even remember her name. But I’ll never forget her, nor will I ever, deep down, understand.

I know I had it a lot better than others do in the world. I just never want to see that sort of place again.

Great news!!!!

This morning I have recieved some very exciting news.

I have passed. I am graduating university! A bit later than I thought, but I promised myself all those years ago back in early high school that I would no matter what prophecies people put in front of me. And I have!!!

At the moment, I’m not feeling anything, surprisingly. I thought I’d be jumping around or calling all my friends to tell them. But at the moment I’m just glancing at the results every now and again to double check it’s not an illusion.

I’m very happy🙂. The prophecy was that I would never even finish high school. I proved everybody and everything wrong – all the statistics, and common logic, everything. Currently, I’m feeing very empowered.

Looks like I made it – I really made it🙂 . Feel free to leave your congratulations!

How I’m travelling

I’m travelling alright, I suppose.

I’m nowhere where I ever imagined my life would be. I always imagined that some prince charming would come and sweep me away on his horse, that I’d have this hot shot career and that I’d be the perfect mother. In fact, the census is coming around. If I am completely honest with you, when I was filling it out when I was seventeen with my nearly one year old, living in emergency short term accomodation (it was nice, though), in my first year of my uni degree, I thought, come next census I’ll have a hot shot career, be married and have another child.

Reality check.

Well, I’m not. I’m not a perfect mother, and as of today, turns out my six year old (that makes me twenty three, by the way) has nits for the first time in his life. So guess what? So do I. My house looks like a bomb has hit it, but now with the added family members who we are trying to poison out (the nits) there’s already a mountain of washing to be done. My house is not as clean as it is in those commercials about super awesome mothers, and although we did read a bedtime story, I’m not sure we did too many bonding activities today. Honestly though, I guess this is the one I’m doing the best in – I never expected my child would have speech problems and not talk until the age of three, but other than that, he is a bright boy. He’s receiving straight A’s at school. What’s that study I read somewhere about the children of teenage mothers failing school? Hopefully it stays that way, but it really shot my confidence when I read it all those years ago. It was like a doomsday article. So far, so good. So, at least here, we’re doing well.

My career’s shattered. Okay, taking a step back, it’s not that bad. I’ve got a permanent casual position and I do get work every now and again. It’s not in my ideal career field and I’m not receiving a professional’s wage for it. Well, the pay is good, but considering I work about four hours a week, it’s not exactly truckloads of cash. I always thought that at twenty three I would already have a degree behind my back, a professional job that I was successful at and money in the bank. Stability – ah, how I dream of it. But, at the age of twenty three, I am lagging much behind. Life circumstances, I know, but nevethless…. There is some stability in my world, which I have won with my blood, sweat and tears, and though the government provides it for me now, let noone say I had it ‘easy’. I’m not sure whether there is a degree behind my back yet – my lecturer is marking my last essay, and should I fail it – well…..And I am really skimming on this one. Long story. Involves lots of illness during when I was supposed to be writing it.

Neither am I an established professional yet, and my financial security is scarce – I still rely on welfare, I still live in government housing. Very upmarket government housing these days, but I fought for that too, let me just be clear. And still relying on welfare at twenty three – ah, it’s my dream to be off it.

And the prince in shining armour? Let me just say that I haven’t really attracted to many potential suitors over the time I’ve being a young single mother. Sure, lots of people have wanted a jump into my pants, but when I wasn’t okay with that….. My view of men is severely clouded now, after all the snide remarks and ridiculous tricks that were tried on me. It was clouded the second I realised I wasn’t pregnant to the man I thought was my boyfriend. It was clouded when I was birthing alone, and it was clouded when I was trying to protect my family from his threats.

So where am I now, on a coldish July night at twenty three? I’m in a happy place – I have a nice unit (be it government or not); I have a job (be it casual or not); I have a wonderful child (I really do); I have some stable friendships; and I have my passions, some of which I am only just discovering.

That’s me in a nutshell. It’s not where I imagined when I first started off on this road. It’s not even where I wanted to be; one could even say, it is close to my worst nightmare. But it’s definately a fine place, if you ask me. For now.

The chasm between mothers (single/teenage)

When you become a mother, it should be like joining a sisterhood – you are all mothers, here to support each other and look out for each other in this not always child friendly world. Right?

WRONG.

It took me a while to figure out – hey, it takes some social workers a while to figure this out too – that there is a serious chasm between mothers. What should be a sisterhood is a world full of judgement, I-can-do-it-better-than-you and you-are-making-me-feel-insecure-so-I-shall-be-a-real-bitch syndrome. Although…what is a sisterhood anyway?

When I first became a mother, I thought – okay, so the older mothers judge me, so I’ll just hang with the younger mothers. There were lots of groups for young mums, after all. I thought I would be accepted.

It took me a hell of a long time to learn that it doesn’t quite work that way, and that broad generalisations of a person’s marital or age status isn’t really the key to success in securing friendships.

So I’ll talk about the two BIG discoveries that I’ve made: which single mothers, and with teenage mothers.

Teenage mothers: That was the thing – we, as an isolated social minority group, we should stick together, right? I overlooked one important detail; well, it was hitting me square between the eyes, but somehow I overlooked it at the same time. At antenatal classes, contrary to popular opinion, everybody was in a couple but me. When I was giving birth, they were doing the same holding their partner’s hands. Their lives were evolving much different to mine. Sure, they were young, but they had partners. And families gathered around them. I finished high school, started uni. They either never had those goals in the first place, or they could ‘take it easy’ – they had the support of others around them. It drove a wedge between us – they couldn’t relate to the experiences I had, and I to theirs. Sure, we could relate to being harassed quite often -but that conversation dried up quite quickly. I also cannot stand those mothers who call themselves ‘young’  – in their extremely late teens, or their early twenties. Far, far different experience to having a child in high school. Whenever they brag, I want to hit them on the head with a brick.

Eventually, I stopped basing my friendship compatibility with other young mums – the compatibility just wasn’t there. I now do have a ‘young’ mum friend – who had her daughter at nineteen – but she also happens to be single, extremely poor, with minimal family support and intelligent. There, we can click. The others? Let’s just say that they’re a distant memory.

So, honesty. When it all boils down to it, I can’t really say that my experience is that of the ‘average teenage mum’. But it’s my experience as a teenage mum, and that’s what I’m blogging about.

Single mothers: So, once I’d discovered that young mums were out of the question, I started connecting more with single mothers. There’s much less chasm between single mothers, I found. I do click with a lot of them – we have the same concerns. The rifts are major, but overlookeable – I guess because our lifestyles still are similar to one extent or the other. Except for those single mothers who’s ex-husbands have the children fifty-fifty and left them all their assets at the divorce – that’s just living the high life. Somebody can argue that one with me – but that’s what it seems like.

Anyway, probably not the best quality blog I have ever written. Was just putting my thoughts out there – how naive I was in the beginning, and what I have learned over time. Lots of my friends don’t even have children.

I just learned not to base my assumptions of compatibility by such a large stroke of the brush. And to disregard any advice social workers would tell me, that, hey, she’s also a young mother, you’re going to get along just fine. Never mind she drives the most expensive car in town, and her husband is loyal, treats her right and has lots of money.

Yup….we’re going to get along just great. She’s really going to understand me.

F O B

If you’re not a mum, you probably have no idea what that means. Or perhaps if you’ve never being a single mum. Or if you don’t use the Internet, but I am assuming everybody here is using the Internet.

It stands for, Father Of Baby. As in, your boyfriend, husband, random shag you had on the weekend, or a myriad of a whole list of things. Whatever he is to you, he is now the father of your baby.

Men are not a carbon copy of each other, and obviously each and every one will react to this news differently. But I have noticed quite a few similarities between some of the cases I have seen personally throughout the years.

Forgive me though, I am not a professor using charts and graphs to study fathers of babies of teenage girls (did we all get that really long title?) This is not a study that has scientific basis. These are merely my observations.

Let’s start with my F O B  – we shall call these FOBTFO. Pronounced fobteefoe, meaning father of baby that frizzles off. There may have being another word standing in there for frizzle, but I shall leave that to your imaginations. If you listen to popular opinion and scare mongering magazine articles, this is what happens to ALL teenage mothers. Sadly for me, and luckily for a truckload of other people, my life experience has shown me drastically otherwise. In fact, I have found myself to be in the utmost minority.

I don’t know the statistics. All I do know is that, when I found myself at antenatal classes for teenage mothers, they were all there as couples, happy, snuggling couples joyously awaiting the birth of their baby whilst I sat there and held my head up bitterly high.

What I do know that, for every relationship that subsequently broke up after the child, or children, were born, there are those that survived. To me, it seems, there are no set rules.

Just because you’re a teenage mother, doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up single. And if you do, it’s not the end of world. There still are a few of us out there.

I will finish with a question to everybody reading this, because I just cannot find the answer. Why the disparage between people’s expectations of teenaged fathers, and the reality? Or am I getting something wrong here?

Comments are very welcome on this one!

Personal trials

It’s starting to get a bit tough writing this blog as I’m going through my own little journey of teenage motherhood. Yes, I became a mother a long time ago. The journey, of course, doesn’t just stop once you have a baby though, obviously.

So here I am, writing this, while my own views about the world, and teenage motherhood too, are changing. You could say I am onto the next stage of a journey in a way – far from where I am still in sticky situations, the pregnancy bit.

I’m at the ‘my child goes to school’ bit. It’s a crisis. Now, he may have started school a year ago, but it was a bad school. Teachers shouting at children, teachers shouting at parents; okay, maybe one teacher in particular, but she ended up being our teacher, so it was pretty bad. I spent a whole year camped outside the principal’s office, trying to make friends with the parents of that school, volunteering at events so I could monitor the situation. It was all complete utter hell – it was a shoddy year.

This year, my child goes to a school where I can send him in the morning knowing he is happy and know that information will be relayed to me should there be a need. And if there are any problems, they will be resolved by normal measures as opposed to ‘let’s have  scream at this horrible kid pissing me off’. Now I really understand what people mean when they say that, ‘I feel so much freer now that my child goes to school.’ See, if you’re not camped outside the school with binoculars and you’re not writing letters to the education department of your state, life actually does get much easier.

Freer.

And what I have done is, starting doing non child related things on a far more massive scale. I am actually going out every weekend too, and this has only started a few weeks ago.

I have entered a world which I do not know, which is a stranger to me. People in their early twenties are still partying it up, and they’ve being doing it for years. I am entering a world where I feel like a little doe with her ears back whilst everyone knows what they are doing. Yes, I enjoy it. But with it comes a bewilderment at a world I did not even imagine, and a speck of guilt that people will think badly of me as a mother. After all, my place is at home on the weekends, with my child. There, I’ve just set myself up for the harshest of criticism.

Except for I don’t know what good I’ll be doing to neither him nor me if I continue living like a hermit and set up home in an isolated cave.

But what am I on about? Who cares about right now?

I’m still on the pregnancy bit in sticky situations, and so I shall move on to that. It’s here.