Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Nurses and doctors aren't told that they encourage the ill and hurt to stay sick and hurt by helping them.
They are doing the unsexy work of trying to help a young parent who feels like giving up because everyone has told them to. A young parent who has yet to address why or what may have led to them becoming young parents. The people who work and advocate for young families do so much more than prescribe a solution. They work to identify and understand the who, what, where, why and when that has led the young parent to where they are now and seek to help young parents help THEMSELVES.
We have all heard the statistics that children born to teen patents have a high rate of becoming teenage parents themselves. Why? Possibly because their parents weren't helped to be able to stay in school, go on to compete higher education and were left by society to 'work harder' in a low wage job thus continuing the cycle of teenage pregnancy.
As a young parent and reproductive rights advocate I DO encourage things. Things like EQUITY, comprehensive SEX EDUCATION and policy change just name a few.
Friday, December 7, 2012
I couldn't believe my ears.
"I don't know how you manage it all. Being one of our top performing students, all of the work you do with non profits and being a single mom. You have the profile these schools love. "
I still can't believe it. I can't believe that I was told I am Ivy Leauge school material by one of my academic advisors. She went on to tell me about grants and clubs I should be looking out for and promised to ask around about organizations that help student parents find housing.
To be honest I'm floored. Perhaps what makes this all the crazier to me is this morning my first thought upon waking up was I should apply to Harvard.
|Could you imagine!! <3|
After my constant ramblings and vents about my sitter I have finally "fired" her. I had to get rid of her because another kid she takes care of was making Leilani's life a living hell
At first when Leilani would complain I thought she was "being too sensitive," "just wanted me around," and as I said in my previous post being told and believing that, "oh well, tough luck, this is a sacrifice mommy had to make" was the only option for her, I didn't pursue getting a new sitter.
She was crying because that very same child was- yet again- being mean to her. Leilani tried to counter it by saying it was okay because it doesn't happen every day. Imagine how shitty I felt as a mother. I had been teaching my daughter unintentionally that dealing with shitty people and making excuses for them was okay. The former part of the last sentence is true. There are shitty people but making excuses for them is not okay.
Then Leilani told me that the child keeps talking about sex, dicks, and is overall just a super over sexed kid.
Oh. Hell. No.
No college course, hours at work or anything else are worth Leilani being in such an uncomfortable situation. None!
So I quit the sitter. Scaled back on work and I'm starting to realize that I need to take a more direct approach in creating the future we want and need.
Changes are already underway.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
- I know my life is better than a lot have it.
- I do get help from people.
- My living situation isn't all that bad.
I am sick and tired of being a one person village. While my blog/life may seem like I "have it all together" I don't. In fact i'm far from that. Yes, I have come a long way, further than society and statistics told tell me. But I have so much further that I want to go.
This is my day:
- Wake up at 6:30 am.
- Drop Leilani off to school at 8am
- Get to subway to start my one hour commute to school
- Arrive at 9am
- Get out of class at 2
- Rush home to get Leilani
- Cook, help Leilani with homework, do dishes, spend time with her
- Try to get her into bed by 8pm so I can pay attention to myself, my homework and the house.
You tell me where I have time to: study or really do homework or go to the library or do research or work real hours to start saving up money or dedicate more time to writing and the advocacy work that I do?
I'm usually in bed by 10pm because i'm too tired for anything else.
I have no one that picks her up from school for me, no one that helps clean the house, cook, organize, help her with her homework, help me with my homework NOTHING!
Mind you I live with someone.
I feel like I have to be the good mom, good daughter, cook, house cleaner, intern, employee. I feel like i'm having deja vu.
If you read my last post, you know that although I do get help here and there it's not enough. It doesn't allow me to really delve into my school, work, projects or being a mother let alone that strange thing called paying attention to oneself.
My bottom line is I want my own place. I can't have Leilani all the way uptown while i'm downtown and have my days end at 3pm and feel like i'm moving forward.
I'm not sure if this post made much sense.
All I know is I NEED my own place. I need a place to be able to be the mother, student, employee and PERSON I want to be. I want HELP. I want MY OWN STRESS and no one else's. I want to know that if I clean a house it will stay clean or dirty as long as I want it to. My life feels like it is in a constant state of stress and my living situation doesn't help.
I WANT MY OWN LIFE with Leilani already!
Last night was the fifth year anniversary of the non profit I intern at. I had made plans to attend a while ago. I was excited! The founder personally asked me to attend because she "would love to have me there."
One problem. On the evening of the event, 30 minutes before the event the person that agreed to watch Leilani bailed. I was- still am- so upset, hurt, angry and most of all embaressesed! I told the founder I would be there, I was supposed to be there, I wanted to be there and here I was 30 minutes before going no where.
This really got me thinking about the different dimensions that can make a young mother look as unreliable and unaccountable as I felt at the very moment. I felt so small and yet so big at the same time, the latter I didn't understand at the time.
This morning I woke up and realized why I felt big at the moment when all I really wanted to do was break down and cry. I felt big because I had a great day until that person bailed on me. I felt capable because I knew that the emails, letters and energies I sent out that morning were positive and going to come back to me. I felt big because I realized I really need to get my own. I have always lived with someone. For the last 6 years I have lived with men. Men that feel they are doing the right thing but in reality are making my blood boil more often than not.
I need to and can change this if I make getting a place physically and emotionally of our own for Leilani and myself a priortity.
Friday, November 30, 2012
I pause for a moment, she told me before that some of her class mates have pointed out her faint mustache and told her they didn't have one.
"Yup!" I answer with certainty and honesty.
"Then why can't I see it? Do you shave it?"
"Sometimes, or I get it taken off when I get my eyebrows done."
What do you want to do about it? I ask.
I don't know, I just didn't want to be the only one with one.
"Dont worry baby you're not." I answering and smiling at her.
Like many females I have faint hairs on my upper lip. However, the teasing i got for it made me feel like I looked like Santa Clause.
The first time anything was done about it was when my mother decided to try waxing it off, herself, at home.
That was not a pleasant experience.
Over the years I would/will shave, wax, thread or Nair it off, other times it doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
My point is own up to your insecurities when it comes to your children so they can see how you deal with yours and how they don't 'make' you and won't break you. Show them how to love themselves by modeling healthy self image habits.
If I had told Leilani no I don't have one she would have felt like she was the only one which we ALL know she isn't.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
As a student parent and sinlge mom at Baruch College last semester I had the idea to start a college mom group with the intent for it to become CUNY wide.
However, it got put on the back burner.
This semester I have been asked by several staff and students if I ever got the group up and running. They informed me that they have had other student parents asking for something like this.
Due to there inquires I am going to REALLY start working on this this semester and hopfully have a launch next semester!
If you know ANY mother that is in college or are a mother in college that is looking for a group of like minded mothers please refer them to me at email@example.com.
If you have ANY tips/suggestions/advice email me as well!
Lets make this happen!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Seriously. Not joking.
If they privatized the Child Support system and had bounty hunters out there like Dog the Bounty Hunter searching for "fathers" that dodge child support orders, get them served child support papers and make sure they are in court when they need to be I would TOTALLY support that!
Do you know how many woman would NOT be on so much or ANY government assistance if they actually received child support? ME! That's who!
Because some of the people in the country are under the notion that the economy is a mess because of "welfare Queens" like myself, yes I am on food stamps, why not get them off state assistance and have "men" that refuse to take care of their responsibilities take care of them through tracking them down via privately owned "child support bounty hunters" and drag their asses to court? I would totally support that!
According to court calculations Leilani's father is suppose to pay about $500 a MONTH in child support. It's been a little over two years of going through the child support "system" and I have received nothing.
Call me crazy but you know i'm right.
Leilani's "father's" favorite line.
Child Support and YUM's
Saturday, November 10, 2012
To explain it best there is a love hate relationship. The problem is the sitter herself is not the problem. She has helped me in many time of need and close calls.
It's another child that makes Leilani hate being over there. The other child, to-date has teased, bullied, shown Rihanna and Nicki Minaj videos and has exposed Leilani to the wonderful killing doll Chuckie movies.
I've explained my frustrations to some and I get the answer that I used to think I just had the accept, "she's inexpensive and you need to make sacrafices."
However, now I think that answer is shit. The sacrafices I need to make are giving Leilani the best that I can while doing the best that I can and keeping her with a sitter she despises -with reason- is NOT me doing the best I can.
The other day Leilani asked me if 'dick' was a bad word. I couldnt believe my ears, I explained to her what 'dick' meant and asked her where she'd learned that word. Lo and behold she replied 'the sitters house.'
|Or more Whoopi... yeah I think Whoopi.|
Then last night she told me that the sitters daugter told her that "you and daddy had sex to make me."
WT actual F was my initial thought and was going to be my response. However, I explained to her that sex is how people have babies which opened another can of worms and an other conversation about family planning. Yes, I have family planning conversations with a six year old because OBVIOUSLY other kids are trying to teach her and i'm NOT having that!
Thankfully I just got the letter from the school saying that she has been approved to attend the two day after school program which means the sitter will only be picking her up one day out of the week.
However, I will keep working hard and really work on finding a different sitter. I still have classes to attend!
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I'm going to be SUPER honest and real with you all.
My confidence is SHIT!
There I said it.
I'm really hard on myself and never think i'm moving anywhere in life even though I KNOW and SEE I am. I think this over shadowing of my accomplishments happens because of my up bringing and volatile relationship with Leilani's father.
So today while I was at the Massachusetts Alliance for Teenage Pregnancy one of the advocates for young mothers said she wanted Girl on Fire to play as she walked across the stage. I decided to listen to it and DAHM Y'ALL. I cried!
Watching the video I related so much to the story being told through her actions, then I started listening to her words and realized this is a strong ass woman she is describing. A woman that is on her shit! Getting it done! Holding it DOOOWWWN!!
Then my AFTER thought was holy shit this is... me...?
You see: that my AFTER thought was this is... me? I questioned if it was me. Then I had to tell myself YES! That's ME!
I'm on fire! I'm amazing! I'm making moves! I'm getting places! I work, I intern, I write, I go to school, I advocate, I learn and above all I am a DAHM GOOD MOM.
I'm PROUD TO SAY that THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIRREEE and starting to realize it and is going to OWN it!
Thursday, November 1, 2012
So imagine how great of a mother I felt enrolling my child there. I felt like I was setting history up to repeat its self. Then I realized that unlike my parents I am involved. I want to help her experience at school be better than mine and in ways I've done that. I've taught her before school which enabled her to skip kindergarten and I had her take the gifted and talented test, which she unfortunatly didn't pass by four points.
I attended her performances and assemblies but I still wasn't too involved. This year I vowed to change that.
A week or so ago I attended my first PTA meeting! And was pleasantly shocked to see how many parents where in attendance.
I've emailed her teacher back and forth to set up a meeting with her to better get to know her and the classroom environment she promotes.
However!!! My biggest success is the fact that the school principal approved the request I made with the President of the PTA to start the Box Tops for Education at the school!
I'm so excited! And can't wait to have my other request and suggestions acknowledged and hopefully approved!
Just because she's in the same school I hated attending doesn't mean I can't try to make it better for her and the other children there.
She has kids that she places with the building but theyre a bit to rugged for her and she usually comes home crying after playing with them.
After sometime we headed home and began to get her ready for her ballet classes in the morning.
The next morning at dance we said hello to one of the little girls in her class and I chatted with the mother for the full 60 minutes of the class. Afterwards we said our goodbyes but I did something differently. I asked the mother if she'd like to join us at the Central Park Zoo and they said yes!
The day was spent at the zoo, the girls played, moms talked and then we went and grabbed lunch. It was such a great day that was completely unplanned. It felt great to watch Leilani play with a child that didn't bully her or punch her or tell her what she had to do.
And while Leilani and the little girl may not grow up together and be the best of friends for the rest of their lives, more importantly Leilani had fun without having to cry and I learned that I have to take more chances and invite people to play with us to start building friendships for the both of us.
It's crazy to see how much you can grow in one year. Last year when Leilani brought home the notice stating that her school pictures were going to be taken I felt upset.
I had no money and couldn't afford to buy my daughter her first set of school photos. Thankfully my father graciously paid for them and I was able to get her first set of school photos.
However, this time around, when the notice came home I looked at it and immediately decided that I wanted the largest packet because I could!
I could afford to get my daughter's photos this year WITHOUT help. Without the shame of not being able to and this is the most amazing feeling ever.
In one year I went from not having anything to having a little bit more but most importantly a lot more confidence in my abilities as a young single mom. I guess this year really is the year of the scooter.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I guess the amount of times that people ask "how I do it all" and me responding, "I don't know. It doesn't seem like much to me," is starting to catch up to me.
It seems like much.
I seems like a lot.
They tease her, their parents aren't as involved, the babysitter isn't doing that great. To date Leilani has watched Chuckie, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna videos and has played "Truth or Dare" just to name a few of my baby sitter woes.
But mommy has to go to classes, doesn't have enough money to afford a 'top of the line' after school program and doesn't have any real options to choose from.
I keep trying to remind myself that it's only for two to three days out of the week but the dissonance that she feels with the children of the neighborhood is constant. And of course as a mother and being the reason why she's there makes me feel horrible.
However, as I write this I can NOT forget the amazing things that are happening in our lives. Things like picture day, Box Tops for Education, Boston trips, serendipity play dates at the zoo and the fact that I got a B on my Economics of Policy mid term and I have a B in another one of my classes.
Nope life isn't bad but at times it can be very stressful BUT! I have to remind myself that I have more positivity in my life than negativity or real problems.
When it gets tough it means you're on the right track.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
A while ago I applied for a fellowship opportunity through The Sierra Club, a non profit organization "with the largest and most influential grassroot organization in America." The application was for One Voice Reproductive Health and Environment Summit in Washington D.C.
The application also stated that the focus of the summit was the relationship between reproductive justice and ones environment.
I eagerly applied, hoped to be selected but cautious to not be too overly optimistic.
Imagine my surprise when I hear back from The Sierra Club via email on my way home from speaking in D. C that I have been selected to be a One Voice fellow!
I was so excited I wanted to cry and shout but I couldn't because I was on the 'quiet cart' on the amtrak. Hahah
I'm very proud and happy to say that I will be in Washington D. C in November doing what I love, again! I will be surrounded by like minded women, learning, advocating and speaking! I can not wait! The event is put together by Sierra Club, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and Advocates for Youth.
I can NOT WAIT!
Speaking on a panel with other young mothers was amazing! Hearing them speak with such conviction and determination in their voice made me once again appreciate the fact, yes I said appreciate, that I'm a part of such a dynamic and determined community of young mothers that exist everywhere!
When I spoke on the panel I felt as if people really wanted to hear what I had to say. They had the option to be elsewhere at that time but no they choose to come listen to what young mother had to say, they want to know our realities or truths and how policies are directly effecting us.
After the panel we had a wonderful "Know Your Rights Lunch with the National Women's Law Center. They informed us about the rights that ALL pregnant teens, parenting teens and young parents have when it comes to receiving an education. To know the rights that you have click here.
Being someone who had a daughter at 15 in a tiny town in Central Florida to a college student in living in New York City and speaking directly to DC officials is so amazing and mind boggling to me.
My experience in D.C reinforced many things for me.
First it reinforced my belief that ANYONE can do ANYTHING if they keep trying, surround themselves with positivity and most importantly BELIEVE in themselves. Believe in their potential and their dreams even if they aren't 100%sure what they maybe at the moment.
DO NOT THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A TEEN OR YOUNG MOM THAT YOU AREN'T CAPABLE!
It also reinforced that despite people say " WTF is Public Affairs?" when I tell them my major that I am in fact studying what my passions are. Public policy, people and the relationship of government to its citizens.
It also reinforced that I'm F-in amazing! I thought I would be super nervous when speaking to a room full of people but I surprisingly really wasn't. When you speak from the heart and speak on the things that you are educated and knowledgeable in you have nothing to be nervous about.
I am so thankful to NLIRH for such an amazing opportunity. However, the amzingness didn't stop there, on the way home from D. C I received an amazing email which would have me back in D.C NEXT MONTH!
Monday, October 15, 2012
Why I'm I excited about the lack of help that I have when it comes to Leilani. Because now I know what I should really be trying to fix.
I have been looking for my stress source for a while now and after thinking it was meal planning ( which it can be), lack of having a planner (having a planner would totally help) or 'not enough time in the day' syndrome most deal with. I realized it really is not enough time in the day.
I'm not talking about the usual sit around and do nothing then complain when you have to do everything at the last minute (which I do sometimes).
Let me explain to you all how I LEGIT do not have enough time in the day. I wake up at 6:30am, drop Leilani off at 8am, get to school at 9am, have class from 9am-2pm then I have to rush home to get Leilani.
Once I have Leilani my day turns into Leilani's day. Complete with her homework, spending time together, feeding her and the usual bedtime routine. On good days she's in bed by 8pm and sleeping by 8:30.
But then I have dishes to do, need to unwind myself and hope I'm awake enough to actually understand my notes from my classes.
Then on Tuesdays and Fridays I work until 4/5-ish. Then do the above routine.
I have no time for study groups, club meetings, blogging, anything really.
See my problem is my days end at 2pm. I don't know about you but for me it's hard to do all I NEED to do between 9am-2pm. All the while sitting in class straight during those times.
I NEED help! I need her to have an after school program. I need to have study groups so I don't fail. I need to have time to work on the tasks that will ensure us the future we want.
Since I don't have that I'll try pulling all nighters.
Friday, October 5, 2012
"Today I was on a conference call with some of the wonderful staff at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health I am very excited to let you all know what I'm going to do!!!"
This opportunity was made possible to me by the National Latinas Institute of Reproductive Health. I'm very excited because as many of you may know Public Affairs is my major but more so my passion!
Another update is that through my internship at Resilience Advocacy Project- a Non For Profit that seeks to end youth poverty. I have been able to create a political activist workshop geared towards young women becoming their own political advocates and how to advocate for the change they would like to see in their communities. I have taught this workshop at events and non profits around the city that help young women. I'm so excited and humbled by this opportunity but also saddened because I haven't been able to teach a workshop in a while. However, if you would like to work with Resilience Advocacy Project contact them here. On November 7th I will be speaking on a panel at the 2012 Teen Massachusetts Institute, Celebrating Success and Envisioning Our Best Future at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Trade Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts about how young parents are utilizing social media with other young parents.
I'm so excited about all of these opportunities and can't wait to tell you all about them!
I am going to be able to finally visit D.C, a city I have been saying that I want to visit, live in and work in since I was a child. I'm so excited to let policy makers aware of what we need, what we don't have and that young moms are a rising group of women that are passionate about creating the lives they want for themselves and their families.
You can read more about Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy here.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Young Parents Making Moves is a new web series I am embarking on.
Whenever I meet some one who tries to tell me that I am the "exception and not most teen parents are like me" I try to express to them that i'm no exception, just part of a growing group of young parents who care, who are motivated and who are making a difference.
Previously, I did a video interview with Founder and Executive Director, Geneva Farrow of A Young Mother's D.R.E.A.M.
This week I interviewed Natasha Vianna a former Teen Mom who is now a Young Parent Advocate. Natasha has been featured on Huffington Post speaking about Young Parents, and birth control, blogs for several online blogs and has spoken at Massachusetts State House about what Young Parents really need.
You can find Natasha online at:
Her personal blog- Bonafidecitygirl
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Currently they are up for a grant from Chase in the amount of $50,000 but THEY NEED OUR VOTES! Please vote for them here!
I was so inspired by Geneva that I asked her for an interview and was very excited when she agreed! She gave us some exclusive insights about AYMD future projects and how they have been helping young mothers in NYC for two years now.
You can find AYMD as well as blogs and organizations for and by teen moms in our Helpful Links section.
Monday, August 20, 2012
I AM TAKING MY LIFE BACK!!
Sounds rash, doesn't it...?
It's just me realizing that although school is great, Leilani is wonderful and I have weekends I need to take back MY life during the week.
This Summer has been AMAZING! I got to travel to Boston, New Hampshire AND Florida! I was fortunate enough to spend some much needed time with family, make new friends and start new endeavors.
I have also had to-more times than one- realize that I HAVE to choose making a few dollars over spending more time with Leilani. This kills me.
What also saddens me is the zero amount of "me time" I actually have. I am either always in class, working, working at home, 'doing homework', being a mom and daughter or in and out of meetings. I don't have time where I can just be still and breathe. A "Me day", a moment of silence, a chance to say yes when a friend invites me out to get a slice.
So this semester I AM CHANGING THAT!
First I am changing it by my school schedule:
I have made my schedule to where I can go to the gym for two hours in the morning 3 out of the 7 days of the week.
I have decided that I want to actively experience COLLEGE:
Being on this years Undergrad Student Government has really provided me with an outlet to do so.
So... what does this all mean? It means that unlike the past where I was going straight from class and into work I am going to ONLY WORK TWO DAYS OUT OF THE WEEK! Sounds INSANE right? Especially with me always talking about how limited my bank account is.
Well you know what I AM SICK AND TIRED of putting a LOW dollar amount on my time, my mental health and the limited amount of time I can spend with Leilani. $21 is NOT worth me NOT socializing with friends, NOT making new friends, NOT being able to go to club meetings and NOT being able to pick Leilani up from school one extra day out of the week.
Trust me I have done the math and an extra $21 a week adds up to $84 a month, which translates to 2.8 weekly unlimited Metro cards for the subway. But it also means me MISSING OUT ON LIFE! Me missing out on TIME THAT I WILL NOT GET BACK! Me missing out on COLLEGE that I fought dam hard to get into and to STAY IN!
You're probably reading this and thinking: wow she's selfish. Thats fine if you do because in my heart I feel we ALL have to be a LITTLE bit selfish. No one else is going to come up to us and say 'oh look I changed your schedule so you can get some free time or say here's all the time back that you spent working.' So i'm doing it for my self.
I'm giving myself my own break. I'm choosing to use my ability to CHOOSE and in the process i'm helping MY mental health, my physical health and the relationships I have with the people in my life and most importantly Leilani.
So how am I going to pull this all off? By working SMARTER, HARDER and exploring different ways to make an income.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
The 8 stages of Blogher12
|Tweet, Tweet, Tweet|
|How you feel when you see someone you have been following for a long time.|
You get there
Do I really need 7 drink tickets?
Um.. excuse me, where do I get one of those Blogher12 bags? Over here? Oh, thank you!
Wait... there's MORE
At this point you have been to two sessions, the luncheon- So... you're telling me that I can have as many of these adorable and delicious desserts as I want?- and lost yourself about three times. Then you find the Expo Hall.
After the Expo Hall
YEAH 7 drink tickets!
|When you see the Sparklecorn cake for the first time|
I LOVE BLOGHER
See you in Chicago!
All images are originally from Hyperbole and a half
I was sponsored by Young Urban Moms to attend Blogher12 but all views and opinions are my own.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The first week of August was nothing short of amazing for me and I know for a fact that the Stiletto Media Kick Off Your Heels Event at Pio Pio is the reason for this!
Stiletto Media's event was, in short, about celebrating Latina bloggers. However, it was SO MUCH more than that for me. The event helped motivate me, encourage me and let me RELAX after such a stressful and long day!
|Alexandra from Alexandra- Elizabeth.com, former Teen Mom and Me!|
Let me stress that this is the first time I met any of these women and with in an hour and a half we laughed, drank AMAZING Sangria, shared stories and inspirations with one another and left the event friends! The atmosphere in the room was welcoming, inviting and joyous all because of the amazing women there. These women become my team to attend Blogher12 with. Without them I would have been LOST!
I also have to thank you wonderful sponsors that made the event even more joyous.
Glitter Tattoo NY was there doing wonderful and very sparkly glitter tattoos, Covergirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor, which it really does last ALL DAY, Avocados from Mexico, the classic Sweet Pickles books were in the house as well with a FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD and HP had was giving away a free HP Faux Canvas voucher to decorate our homes with.
The Kick Off Your Heels event was the perfect opening to what would become a wonderful week with my girls: Alexandra-what a time we had, Sili whom has a huge heart and legs that never stop dancing, my piercing buddy Maria, Lisa who encouraged me so much in a short amount of time, Monique and Rachel who has found the fountain of youth just to name a few!
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Briefly introduce yourself
My name is Gaiana, I am seventeen years of age. I am an avid reader and lyrical dancer. I looooveeee playing sudoku and taking pilates is what prevents me from not going insane.
Although you are not a teen mother what compelled you to start a group for teen moms?
I've always wanted to do something different. I've realized that I don't want to just exist, but I would also want to live my life in a way that also helps others. In the fall of 2011, I started volunteering with the Sisters of Life. They are an organization of sisters who service women in difficulty and spread the pro-life message. I was inspired by these sisters and I wanted to help. Since I'm not trained for life counseling or anything, I made it my mission to start something new, something that I didn't already see in our community. I noticed there weren't many teens reaching out to the young mother community. I gathered up some of my friends, Chayanne, Amber, and Tiffanie. They are members of the Sixteen Candles for Life board and they help in making decisions for Sixteen Candles. Without these girls, Sixteen Candles for Life would not have been possible.
Many people ask me about our name. "Sixteen Candles for Life" is suppose to take away any negative connotation between the number 16 and pregnancy. Candles represent light, life means life. We are a group that cherishes life and celebrate the young mothers who despite all odds upheld life and its importance.
What type of things will your group offer teen and young mothers?
We provide them with a safe, judgement-free environment where they can share their feelings, where we can have open discussions about anything they may have on their minds. We offer spiritual support, if anyone has any special prayer requests or anything. We offer academic support and emotional support. It's all about support from young women their own age.
Does the media’s perception of teen mothers have an impact on how you or your generation view teen moms?
Shows such as "Sixteen and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2" are truly a disappointment to most of the people to which I have spoken. They embellish the struggles of young mothers in a way that is anything but positive. I bothers me that there was an odd transition from "Sweet Sixteen" to "Sixteen and Pregnant." The media's priorities have shifted from focusing on celebrating this milestone in a girl's life to gaining economic growth through the hardships of girls in tough situations. The media does not accurately portray teenage mothers so I think that makes it difficult for the teen community to fully understand and empathize with teen moms. This makes it difficult for teens to help young mothers stay in school and reach their goals because there is no relationship being built among one and other.
When and where will Sixteen Candles For Life meet?
We meet at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community center: 34 West 134th street, New York, NY 10037 the first and third Fridays of every month from 4pm-6pm.
Wonderful! Is there anything else that you would like attendees to know?
We do not judge our moms if they have had any previous abortions. We are not here for abortion counseling, we do not force the pro-life message on these mothers in any way, shape or form. We only celebrate and congratulate them on making such a tough, but rewarding decision to keep their child.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
This summer for example. I had two summer courses and would have had me in school from 2:30-7:00pm
An internship Monday and Wednesday and work on some
Tuesdays and Thursdays; all the while blogging and being a mother.
My financial situation wasn't- still isn't- too good. Which means I would have to find a sitter that would watch her, which I have, for about 40 a week and pay her little to nothing, which no one would do.
I was stressing about it and found the closest solution I could to making it all work but it would have been stressful and VERY TAXING for everyone involved and meant that I would have to miss about three weeks of my awesome internship.
Yesterday I went to go visit my friends and work and they all told me to drop it. I came up with horrible "reasons" as to why I needed it and they looked at me as to say " you do hear yourself right?" I did hear myself and I sounded absolutely bat shit crazy!
Then I looked at what I would really be accomplishing by taking the those courses over the summer. The answer NOTHING! It wouldn't move my graduation date up, it wouldn't make my last semester a lot easier, it wouldn't do anything but cost me 2k( the price of the classes combined) and a ton of stress and money on a babysitter.
What the hell was I thinking?!? I am proud to say that I have officially dropped my summer cousres!
I feel SO much better! I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! I realized why I was so stuck on taking those courses and it was because I am stuck on trying to constantly prove that ' I can' to myself! Crazy right?! Being in an unhealthy competition with myself. Well I'm not engaging in that anymore. I will continue to challenege myself but in a healthy way!
You have enough to worry about, REMOVE THE UNNECESSARY STRESS!
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Briefly introduce yourself. (name, hobbies, how many children you have and their age, things like that).My name is Alizabeth Acevedo. I am 34 years old. I have a 17 year old daughter, Ashley, and a 19 month old baby girl, Ava. I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens, NY and I now live in NJ. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 6 years. I am a physician, specializing in anesthesiology (making sure people are unaware, pain free, and all their organs are functioning during surgery and making sure they wake up). I love to spend time with my family and I enjoy baking.
Describe your initial thoughts when you found out you were pregnant
Scared, disbelief, disappointment in myself, sadness for my parents, embarrassed, terrified because I had no idea how I was going to raise a baby & continue with school. Ironically, I did feel a small bit of happiness because after all I was carrying a life inside of me. I just didn’t know what to do with that new life and my own.
You have accomplished a lot in your life!
What has been your biggest motivation to keep going?
How do you feel your pregnancy helped you become the person you are today?
My biggest motivation has been my daughter. My 17 year old “mistake”, “statistic”, “problem”, as society viewed her. I always wanted to be a doctor, but I got caught up with the wrong crowd and I started doing the wrong things. I am convinced; that had I not gotten pregnant and had Ashley I would have remained on the wrong path. I know that I would not have accomplished my goals without her. No matter how difficult it was, I needed that child to set me straight. I am by no means suggesting that troubled teens get pregnant; I am just expressing how I feel my experience affected me. I am the exception, not the rule, I am fully aware of that. However, I know there are teens/young moms who need encouragement and these words are for them.
Who have been your biggest supporter, allies and motivators?
My parents! They loved and supported me no matter what. However, they did not make it easy for me. My mother did not quit her job/her life, to take care of my baby. I had Ashley in my senior year of high school. I had only 4 more months of school remaining before graduation. My sister-in-law (my brother’s wife, also a former teen mom) selflessly cared for Ashley for me to complete high school. I took 6 months off between high school and college and I worked. Once I started college my mother cared for Ashley after work while I went to night school. This continued until Ashley was old enough (2.5 yrs old) to attend the daycare at my college. My parents mostly cared for Ashley for me to go to school, work, or study. Hanging out with friends was not a priority for them or me. I had to find another sitter if I wanted to hang out. This tough love made me see that being a parent is hard work. It also kept me from having another child for a very long time. Besides my parents and my family, my husband has been with me through a lot. He’s been my rock and the father Ashley needs.
Being a doctor have you seen first hand a lot of teen/young parents, if so do you feel your past experiences help you when speaking to them?
Yes. I do try to encourage my patients who are teen/young moms when I encounter them. As part of my practice, I placed epidurals in women who are giving birth. I have seen many pregnant teens and I usually take that opportunity to tell them my story, after the epidural of course!
What would you like see in terms of education to young teens and adults when it comes to sexual health education?
Sex Ed at school can only do so much. I feel sex ed should involve parents. Unfortunately, teen/young moms tend to be mostly Latino and other minority groups. In these cultures speaking openly about sex is taboo. Sex-Ed should try to help parents be more open with their kids instead of pretending that not talking about it means its not happening.
Do you feel being a young parent has in a way helped you understand what your daughter goes through?
Yes. I vividly recall being my daughter’s age and feeling the things she feels. However, being a parent is a double edged sword. On one side I can be very liberal, but on the other side I can be strict because I remember so much. Ashley can attest to this. She has told me that all her friends think its cool that her mom is so young, but she tells them its not always a good thing because of how strict I can be.
Aside from graduating from Medical School and motherhood accomplishments what has been your own personal greatest accomplishment?
Currently, my own personal greatest accomplishment is getting Ashley past the age of 16 successfully. That is, I’ve always feared her being 16 and getting pregnant. I never wanted her to go through what I went through or myself going through what my mom went through. I can proudly say that the “statistic” stops with me and my daughter did not do what society expected her to do. She is academically successful, emotionally stable, and very well adjusted.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
It seems everyone has an opinion about teen moms and while opinions are fine, so long as they do not hurt anyone, viable and real statistics are true and sound.
I can not tell you how upsetting, unsettling and ridiculously absurd it is that grown adults feel MTV is a viable source of information when it comes to teen pregnancy and young parenthood.
One positive thing about all of the hype around teenage sexuality is government institutions, public and private sectors are starting to do what small organizations have done for YEARS, pay attention to teens and teen parents!
With all these larger entities with larger bank accounts paying attention, studies and research is being conducted to see what is really going on with teens and young parents.
While some statistics from these studies seem dooming, others aren’t and most importantly they’re factual BUT are not determinate of a teen/young mothers future.
Did you know that teenage pregnancy is AT AN ALL TIME LOW!
"According to new data from the CDC, teen pregnancy rates have reached all-time lows, dropping more than 44% from 1991 to 2010."
Let me know what you think.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The fact that I am a single mother makes it difficult for me to have “alone time.” In fact my definition of ‘alone time’ is taking a shower or doing the dishes.
This is why I was so excited when I received an email invite to join NYCityMama, Carol Cain, and Dr. Oetker for the “Bring a Slice of Romance Home” was a fun and educative event about pairing Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante Pizzas to the perfect glass of wine in order to have an affordable date night at home, without compromising on quality or emptying one’s wallet.
This invite made me immediately pick up the phone and call the sitter.
I didn’t know it then but that call was one of the best decisions I made for myself in a long time!
Dr.Oetker is a brand of delicious authentic Italian pizzas and deserts. While some tend to think that frozen pizza can’t taste fresh or flavorful Dr. Oetker Pizzas completely do away these stereotypes.
Upon arriving to the event I was welcomed by other mothers from around the city and a wonderful glass of wine. If that wasn’t the perfect way to end a long day of work and school than I don’t know what is.
After chatting with some of the other mothers and relaxing with a glass of Pinot Gris, which goes perfectly with cantaloupe by the way. We were informed that the pizzas were arranged on each table with the wines that complimented them the most.
We had six delicious varieties of pizzas to choose from, five which are vegetarian, and 7 wines for pairing them with.
I can honestly say it was love at first bite when I bit into the crunchy Pizza Spinaci crust. Then my sip of the wonderful Summer Rosé wine bought all the flavors out even more!
The Pizza Quatro Formaggi and the Pizza Mozzarella were cheese heaven! The Pizza Quatro had Mozzarella, Edam, Emmental, blue cheese and a hint of basil and paired with a German Riesling. While the Pizza Mozzarella was topped with Mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, Edam cheese and mixed herbs with a wonderful Chianti.
The rest of the night was about making way around the room, tasting wines, enjoy wonderful pizzas, sharing stories and laughter with one another. Sounds too cliché but that is exactly what it was, a perfect ‘girls night in’ if you will.
Dr. Oetker and Carol Cain did a phenomenal job at making the evening an evening of friends, food and wonderful wine lessons all wrapped in one.
The best part is all of the wines were under $20 making your perfect night in a very budget conscious night for anyone. Especially us, single working and student moms.
Picking up a Dr. Oetker Pizza, bottle of wine and calling friends, having a family night or a date night is as simple as strolling into your local grocer. That’s because Dr. Oetker Pizzas can be found all throughout the city in grocery stores that many of us already shop at! The only warning I will give you is either put the kids to bed before trying your first pizza or buy extra because sharing these pizzas are hard, even with your little one.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
My biggest goal in life is to travel the world and help others. While some people think this is crap and not 'normal,' it's my goal. I've spoken to Leilani and she's down.
At the end of the month Leilani and I are going on our first mother-daughter trip. We're going to attend an event in Boston, Massachusetts and then we're off to New Hampshire to visit one of my old friends!
While I might be a bit dramatic in saying this is a dream come true it really is! Traveling is what I want us to do! To me, the world is for exploring and helping others a long the way!
While is it 'just' Boston and New Hampshire it's out first trip of many!
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Are shows like MTV’s 16& Pregnant and Teen Mom a true representation of life as a teen mom? I often get asked this question and my answer is no, not mine.
An organization for teen moms The Care Center out of Massachusetts is on the mission to represent life as a teen mom without stipends from major companies. Care Center in Holyoke, Mass is asking for help from all people that hope to see teen moms represented as they see fit.
By voting for "Our Reality" on they Good Maker they are hoping to win enough money to create mini documentary about teen moms out of Boston and showcasing them on their own website.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Briefly introduce yourself. How many children do you have? How old were they when you had them?
Have you ever heard of 'The Little Mermaid'? Well, supposedly that is where my name originated from 'Ariel' became 'Ariella'. By the age of 19, I was a mother to the two beautiful children I have today! Ezlaryah was born on July 14, 2008 and, Eciason April 4, 2010. Though, there are days I have six children. Yes, SIX! Can you imagine little me tagging along six children? Along with being the best mother in the world to my children, I am a Stylist, aspiring Fashion Designer and Boutique Owner! Which will be opening this month! I am very excited so, be sure to look out for it!
Do you feel you being from Hawai’i gives your fashion sense more diversity?LOVE this question! Yes, I definitely do! In Hawai'i, I grew up with 'Aloha' attire. Living there, I do not think I would be caught dead wearing it unless it was for Hula! But, missing home and ideas constantly being created within me, growing up with this style and fashion allows me to expand my creativity and diversity in styling and fashion designs!
I saw that you had the opportunity to meet Tia Mowry, how was that?
Yes, I did! She was absolutely gorgeous and her son Cree ADORABLE! Almost made me want another baby. But, if that does happen it's not happening anytime soon! Tia was incredible! You never know what to expect when you meet a celebrity. She was sweet, genuine and precise! She had a little, tiny bit of 'Diva' in her. But, incredibly NICE! I must have gave her three hugs each encounter I had with her! If you are expecting mommy, get her book 'Oh, Baby' it is the best pregnancy guide book you can have! I wish I had it when I was pregnant!
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?
By the end of this year, I hope to FIRST take my family on a small vacation. It is way over due! Remember, family always comes first! SECOND, build my Styling Portfolio. THIRD, retain clientele for my Online Boutique. FOURTH, build followers on my blog, Fashion with a Story. FIFTH, work and/or attend New York Fashion Week! SIXTH, make my Fashion Designs come to LIFE! SEVENTH, make a difference in every individual’s life I meet and encounter!
If you want to learn more about Ariella and her blog head over to Fashion with a Story. Ariella has great budget conscious segments where she shows people how to dress stylish without emptying your back account. Ariella will be sharing her types and advice with Teen Mom NYC as well as our fashion contributor!