Today, I was asked how being a young mom affected my life.
I had my son, Ollie, when I was 21. I was not a teenager anymore but not an adult either. I’m not a girl, not yet a woman. (Thanks Britney.)
I found out that I was pregnant during my final exams to become an educator – I was thirteen weeks along. I was on, the pill and had my period regularly. I never forgot it or was ill. But it happened anyway. When the nausea first happened, I thought it was just the stress. The smell of perfume, the aisles with cleaning products, scented candles, garlic, everything made me sick, but it didn’t make me think about pregnancy – it was the last thing I came up with. To top it off, the girl sitting next to me during my tests was wearing strong perfume, and I was hardly able to stay seated and not puke over my table. That and the fact that I was not too well prepared made me fail two exams, which I was able to retake the following September – luckily. In September, so much had changed that failing was not an option anymore.
The day I took my pregnancy test, my sister was there to pick up her last belonging. (She had run away from home two years prior to then.) I took the test and cried for an hour (or more). I was not done with school; I lived with my mom, who needed 24/7 care, and my grandma, who told me daily that I was a waste of breathing air. I had been with Ollie’s dad for four years already, and yet… He was young too. He was 27 when he became a dad. And I was afraid to ruin his life, to choose his fate for him. I gave him a way out. When I told him, I said that I would understand if he didn’t want to be with the kid and me, but that I would have it – with or without him. He stayed.
I moved out from my mom’s and in with my boyfriend. I went from caring for my parent to being the parent of a baby. In a new home with no security blanket whatsoever, I felt lost, insecure, and abandoned. My grandma made it clear that she would never take care of my kid and that I ruined her life and the entire family. It was a very ugly time that left wounds. I cried a lot. When I announced my pregnancy to my father, he stopped speaking to me for a week. He was 48 and felt too young to be a grandfather. My mom just said okay and kept watching TV. My grandma, who I had lived with for most of my life, did not visit me at the maternity ward, my mom was unable, and my dad barely got the info, and already he was on his way, with a bottle of champagne and my little sister. Gosh, to think that she was only 11 in January 2005.
Friends who had promised to stay in touch vanished and started their lives either going to uni or having work, and I had a house and a child, post-natal depression, and no one to speak to. That was my life. And a vicious circle of bad habits and mental health issues began. I ate and ate to stuff the void in me. I became fat, and I still haven’t shed those kilos, although I eat much healthier and move much more. The kilos and the loneliness crushed what little self-esteem I had completely.
I don’t know how my life would be if I had not had Ollie back then. Probably, I would still be caring for my mother; I would not have kids, I would be single, not writing, not working… My home always held me back. And I was never taught or allowed to do my thing.
My life changed in 2014 with a trip to Brussels. That was the first time I was just me. I was not a mom or wife or caregiver; I was just me. I was selfish. I often mention that I was hugged in Brussels and that it was a catalyst for the way I am now. I stand by that. I went to Brussels to see a concert by a band called Her Name is Calla. Before the show, I remember that I was very nervous when I spotted him, and he greeted me with a little hug and whispered, “I am glad you made it.” I had a couple of beers with the singer and guitarist/keyboarder – Tom Morris (T E Morris) until he went on stage. Afterwards, he was asked to take pictures with fans, and he gave autographs; I was convinced I was forgotten. But I wasn’t. Tom waved me over, introduced me to the rest of the band, and we spent the night drinking beer and sharing stories. It was a wonderful night. Until it was time to part, and that’s when the magical hugs happened. He held me so tight that a couple of broken pieces found a new way to exist in me. I am very grateful to everyone involved.
In 2015, I met someone who began pushing me further out of my routines and comfort zones. He pushed and pushed for me to be more independent, and in 2016, I started my work at a nursery. I had my first job in 2006 and did not work between 2008 and 2016 because I took care of my kids. I was a mom and housewife. Don’t get me wrong; I loved that. I mean, in 2012, I took up writing; that would not have happened if I had worked a regular job back then. But, I also love getting up and driving to work. I love my job, and I am very passionate about it. Going to work is often stressful, but that too helped me to find a piece of me.
I am 38 now, I have accomplished a lot – mostly on my own or with marginal support from my husband. I have been a mom for quite a while, and I am sure I missed many things in my youth. I was very serious and reasonable for a long time. I was never selfish and always gave everything I had to offer. It has left me drained and empty. Longing and yearning for things I will never have.
But everything will be okay. Everything happens for a reason.
And I intend to live my life without restrictions and against the expectations of the norm. I know that I weird and eccentric, but hey, I am me.