LaWann as a teen mother with her then infant son.
Briefly tell us about yourself and your story of being a teenage mother.
(LaWann Moses) Months before my high school graduation, I found myself pregnant and my college plans thwarted. I really didn’t know what I would do. I couldn’t go to college as planned with a baby coming. I had to get a job, and overnight I went from being a child with no responsibilities to someone’s mother. From there I was thrust into the world of teenage motherhood, lack, and poverty and soon depression took over my life. I lost all motivation for everything and found myself unavailable to my son emotionally and withdrawing from life altogether. One day I decided I was going to end my life. I dropped my son off at daycare and kissed him goodbye. I returned back to my apartment and was ready to end it all. But instead, I fell asleep on the couch. While I was sleeping my son appeared to me in a dream and said, “Mommy, don’t go. I need you.” I jumped up and realized I was still alone in the apartment, but I also realized I had to live. I had a son who needed me and if I couldn’t do it for myself I had to do it for him.
My life was not over, I just took a detour. Soon after I sought counseling, created a plan, and became determined to succeed. No, it wasn’t easy, but I had a mindset of determination, dreams, and goals to achieve and I refused to look back.
What was your biggest struggle as a teenage mother, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest struggle was adjusting to a new normal. I went from a child with no responsibilities to someone’s mother almost overnight. I went from having everything I needed and all my needs met to struggling to survive and pay my bills. I overcame my struggle by developing a determination to succeed. I refused to let anything stop me or anyone stand in my way. It wasn’t easy, but my mindset made the most difference in my success.
How did you navigate the transition from teen mom into adulthood?
There isn’t really a transition that can be managed or navigated. Like all new mothers, teen moms are just thrust into motherhood to “figure it out”. There is no mother’s manual or “how to be a mother guide”, we just have to figure it out. The best way I navigated my transition was to rely on my support system and the other systems available to me. I used the social services system to help make it to my next level, but I refused to get stuck in the neverending cycle of systems.
What support (services and/or people) do you believe would have been the most beneficial to you as a teen mother?
I believe there should be a system in place that supports a teen mother beyond high school. The biggest shock to me when I became a teen mom was that I couldn’t get daycare assistance without having a job. I had plans to enroll in college full-time and obtain my degree, but I quickly had to change up my plans and get a job in order to get help with my son’s daycare. As far as I know, you still have to work to get assistance with daycare. I understand the reasoning behind this (to avoid abuse of the system) but at the same time where is the support for young mom’s who want to get an education so they do not have to rely on the system for life?
Did you have a mentor (mom, sister, aunt, friend, grandma, social worker, etc.) that provided you with support of any kind?
I was blessed to have a whole support squad. My family, my son’s father, his family, friends, etc. I had a lot of support and I believe that helped me tremendously. I was working during the day and attending classes on the nights and weekends. Without the support of my family and friends, I don’t know how I would have made it.
What advice would you give to a young girl who is now or is becoming a teen mother?
I will give the teen girls the same advice my mother gave me years ago, “the time will pass regardless, it’s all a matter of how you spend it”. If you want to get a degree, take up a trade, or start a business, then find a way to make it happen. Use your support system, find a mentor, find a support group that will push you towards pursuing your dreams.
I believe we all go through things so that one day we can reach back and pour into someone else who may travel similar paths. I think SheRises aligns perfectly with my vision of pouring back into others through sharing stories and experiences.
Thank you for sharing your story, LaWann!