Picture this… a girl who discovers the world of SLP and falls in love. She does her research and finds out the path is a rigorous one, but she knows she’s capable. She’s excited and scared and anxious. Now picture a 2 year old on her lap.
Most people’s jaws drop when I tell them I have a 16 (very soon to be 17) year old son. The responses go something like this…
“You don’t look old enough!” “Wow” “Sooooo, how old ARE you?” “That must have been tough” “But you’re so successful!” “How did you do that?”
I used to watch them do the math. These days I usually just blurt it out and save them the awkward glance. Yes, I was 19 when I got pregnant. No, it was not in my plan. Yes, I took care of him while I was in college. No, I am not still with his father. Yes, we co-parent like champs. Blah, Blah, Blah.
The world really isn’t the most friendly place for people who don’t follow the typical path, the people who do things in the ‘wrong’ order. I’ve had some really crappy things said to and about me because I was a young mom. Add single mom to that mix and it gets real.
Was I the only woman with a child in college? No, but it definitely felt that way. Instead of dancing at a bar on my 21st birthday, I was nursing my baby and eating Olive Garden takeout on my couch. When I got out of class, I wasn’t headed to hangout, I was headed to the daycare to pick up my sweet boy that I missed all day long. Unlike most people that age, nothing was about me. I made college and grad school my thing, but it was what I was doing for our future.
And it WAS tough. How did it work?
- I had professors at FSU who gave me opportunities when I needed them. I don’t know if they were extra nice to me because of him, but I sure did appreciate the support I received.
- I connected with some new people in my program who came to love my son like they were all his aunts. They were incredible to us and will be lifelong friends.
- My family that was so supportive I didn’t have a choice not to follow my dreams. Before I started grad school, my mom relocated from California back to Florida so that I could live with her rent free.
- I worked on a grant to make extra money, I applied for every financial assistance program that exists, and took out student loans. I’m happy to report that I was able to pay those off all by myself, too.
- I didn’t sleep much… I studied at night after the boy was sleeping. Sometimes I even put on a movie for him to watch so I could get stuff done. Horrifying, I know.
- Jesus was never going to give me more than I could handle, because it’s all in His hands.
I wouldn’t change that part of my life for anything because I learned some life lessons that have made me who I am. And y’all, my kid rocks. Literally and figuratively.
I know there are many other women out there that are parents who are scared to go back to school. My advice? Go. Follow your heart. I never asked for favors because of E, but the details worked out. They always do.