Today I cried tears of happiness. I had just finished the morning school run. As I was returning to my car, I received an email on my phone. It was confirmation that I’d passed another assignment! Three weeks ago, I’d scored 100% on the first assignment of my Youth Work course. I cried happy tears today because I’ve only been studying for a little over a month. I hadn’t studied in 8 years. I’ve been a stay at home mother to 3 girls and am also working from home. But for the first time in a long time, I’m more hopeful than ever about my future.
The misconceptions about being a parent
I met my husband at a very young age. I was 17 and he was 18. We are now 26 and 27. We fell in love very early on, had our first child quite young, and we got married very young. And so often, we have been confronted with unsolicited advice and lots of judgemental “You know you’ve basically ruined your life” comments.
But what many people don’t know is that at 18 and 19, my husband and I were already talking about marriage and children. We’d already envisioned our futures together. Settling down was what we’d wanted all along.
We started our family and I ended up putting my Psychology degree on hold. For the past 8 years, I’ve been a proud stay at home mother to a 4, 6 and 8 year old.
This has been the happiest and most rewarding time of my life.
My life hasn’t ended because I’m a mother. My life isn’t ruined. All my hopes and dreams for the future haven’t disappeared because I’m a mother. I’m still me. The same, ambitious me all those years ago that wanted to help people. The same then-15 year old who believed that we have a social responsibility to be there for each other. The same person who believes each of us can make a difference in this world.
My priorities may have changed. My day-to-day life may have changed. But who I am and who I want to be in this world hasn’t changed.
Don’t give up on your dreams
I was recently interviewed for an upcoming book on teen pregnancy. The author had come across my story in an article that I’d written. She was very impressed that my husband and I were raising a family at a young age and were also happily married. She wanted me to share some encouraging words with other teen parents.
Here’s an excerpt of what I had to say:
“The advice I would give other young mums would be – don’t lose yourself. Don’t believe that your life is over. Don’t give up on your career, on your hobbies, on the things and the people who matter to you.
I know that it’s easy for me to say this coming from a much more positive experience, but I want other young mums to know that there is hope. So much hope. You are raising a human being – a beautiful, little child – who is going to grow up respecting you for being there. Respecting you for looking out for them, for raising them, for trying your best to give them the best start in life.
If you’re feeling scared, anxious, overwhelmed – know that people want to help you. People want to support you throughout this time. You’re not alone.”
There’s always hope for the future
Whether you planned to have a family or not, I feel we’re all essentially in the same boat. We have children who we love and adore. We understand what really matters in life. We treasure those significant moments where we can sit down and play with our children, where we can hear them laugh, see them smile, give them hugs and kisses.
But we also don’t want to forget who we are.
We don’t want to lose ourselves in the process.
Don’t give up on the dreams you had before you became a parent. Don’t rule anything out because it doesn’t seem financially possible or convenient right now.
My husband and I have always been on one main source of income. We are doing our best every day to give our kids the best start in life. And I’ll admit, some days are much harder than others.
But in less than 3 years’ time, I’ll be able to hold my Diploma of Youth Work certificate, look at my girls proudly and say, “Mummy finally did it!”
I’ll be able to follow my dreams, help support my family and be proud that I’m making a difference to the youth of today.
At 17 years old, the career objective in my résumé was, “To work in a field that recognises the needs of others and strives to make a difference.”
I am now 26 and I’m studying to become a Youth Worker.
There’s always hope for the future.
This article was written by Thuy Yau, who is a freelance writer and mother of three. She loves helping other mothers grow from their own experiences. She is also studying to become a Youth Worker. You can find out more about Thuy here