Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meet Candis

I found Candis's blog, Letting You where she blogs about being a former teen mom to to her pre-teen daughter and found it it great that there was a former Teen Mom blogging about her experiences in life. I contacted her about doing an interview and she AGREED!  I also found out that Candis has her own non-profit organization The Teen that connects Teen Moms to scholarships.
The amount that she has accomplished in life in such a short amount of time is VERY encouraging!

Briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Candis, I’m 30 years old, I have lived in Chicago for most of my life and I have one daughter who is turning 13 in June. I found out I was pregnant in my last year of high school at the age of 16 and had her two weeks after graduation.
Currently I work as an administrator for a construction management company in Chicago. I am also working on opening an online boutique for tweens, As my daughter got older, I coined the term ‘Too old for play dates, but too young for pumps!" I want the boutique to be a place where they can get appropriate and fashionable things for themselves.

What was it like getting pregnant in your teen years during your generation? How did people in your community react? Parents? 

Being a teen mom in my generation, for me, was a few things but 'mess' and 'rough' are probably the best ways to sum it up. At the time there were not too many resources for teen moms. I felt alone but there were 3 other girls that were also teen moms in my school, so we just banded together. I actually got a great friendship out of it with one of the girls and now my daughter & her daughter are like sisters!

My relationship with my friends became weird. I wouldn’t say that they ousted me, but it felt that way. They were shopping for prom and I was shopping for cribs! Because people started treating me differently I felt like I had to over compensate for my “shortcomings” by doing exceptionally well in school. The most criticism I received was from my church and my family. When I started seeing how quickly people will turn on you, I began to build resilience and even wrote a blog post about that too!

How did you tell your parents?

Candis and daughter Drew
(laughing) I didn’t realize there was a possibility I was pregnant, my mom did. She noticed that there were more sanitary napkins than there should have been. One night I was nauseous and in bed when she walked in, sat down next to me and said, “Candis… could you be pregnant?” I responded, “I don’t know.” (That was the moment she learned I was having sex). She made a doctor’s appointment and when he came back with the results, everything went slow motion. I could hear my heart beat when the doctor told us I was pregnant.

That sounds heavy! What was your mother’s reaction?
After she got over her emotions she told me that her expectations for me would not change. She was not going to let me use my pregnancy as a crutch.

Going forward In life how do you feel being a teen mom prepared you for the challenges your faced?

As a teen mom you go through so much at such an early age. It’s like taking college courses in high school. If you want to survive you must learn how to deal with life. You have no choice you have to do it. It shaped the way I deal with a lot of crap. I don’t let things get to me like I used to and you learn to identify what is worth your energy. Basically, you get a crash course in life!

You have accomplished a great deal in life how did you not allow having a child in your teens defer you?

I knew what I wanted to accomplish before I became pregnant and there was no reason why I couldn’t do it after having my daughter. I went off to a 4-year university as planned but ended up transferring and going to two others. I was the sole provider for my family so all through school I worked. Upon graduation I took a year off, worked, and then went back to grad school. My mother was gracious enough to watch my daughter for a year. She stayed in my apartment with my daughter and we made a plan. I had one year, once the year was up it was up and I would have to figure out another game plan. I knew I had to make the best use of time.

I finished my Grad studies in 3 semesters! I graduated with a Masters in Public Administration.  

What have you done or will you do to ensure that your daughter is not a teen parent?

I want to be candid with her about her body and her body’s cycle. I don’t want to sugar coat anything but I won't be too explicit. I want to have a daughter-mother relationship before anything but I want us to have a friendly relationship.
One night we were having our crunk night (dance party) and she said “ You know mom, I know you were a young mom and all but we didn’t do too bad. I mean look at us now.” I turned off the music and explained to her that what I’ve been through and go through is a big deal and she may not always see it because I shield her from it. I’m glad I succeeded but I don’t want her to take being a teen mom as an easy feat.

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

Purchasing my first home and providing a solid space for my child. Also bringing normalcy, the stigma of being a teen mom is not weighing heavily on us. I don’t feel like a teen mom. I’ve made daughter, my mother and myself proud.

Another big one was being able to FORGIVE people that shunned me. Family!

How do you maintain being a mother and an individual? When did that happen for you?

Haven’t been able to get there. I actually wrote a post that really answers your question -Finding the I in Me. So much of who I am rests on me being a mother and wife. I became her mom, the teen mom, I have had to sacrifice the me for getting a better life for us.
She’s getting older now and she doesn’t need me as much, but we both struggle with the idea of me doing things with out her or me doing things, simplify for me.