Life Lessons Lead to Knowledge With Love
I was pregnant at sixteen years old. Just a naïve, and senseless girl in her junior year of high school supposed to be preparing for what colleges to apply for. Certainly I didn’t take my own educational future seriously. As a kid, I was suddenly about to try and raise one myself.
My first lesson came soon after my son was born. I realized that being a teenage mom meant nothing to the outside world; the harsh realities which have been masked before were now wide open for me to experience sooner than I intended. The outside world was harsh enough. However I was completely unprepared to have my father, himself only in my life part-time, take it upon himself to step in and command that I was not a fit mother to my child. I thought many times and almost convinced myself that my dad was probably right; I wouldn’t be a good mom. I was not educated.
I had no voice. I had no say in my child’s life. I couldn’t apply for health care at sixteen unless I emancipated myself from my parents. I found out that could take years.
My father’s behavior galled me. He and my mother were divorced when I was five years old and even though they both had joint custody, my brothers and I only saw my dad once a year for about 2-3 weeks. He always forgot birthdays, and never really showed up to any school functions, not to mention he moved all the way across the country. Still, when just for a moment, I believed my dad when he said I wasn’t a fit mother, he took advantage of my state and that’s when he took my son from me.
My second lesson was – don’t believe them, believe in yourself. With the determination to see things differently and help from my mom, I did find the strength and wisdom to win my son back. I battled my dad for custody of my son for seven long and devastating months. In every court room my lack of education was put on the firing line so much so that I thought I’d have no chance of winning back my rights to parent my child. I had other people constantly explain to me that I could not and would not be able to go to college because I couldn’t go to school and parent a child. My high school guidance counselor informed me that I needed to think about other options rather than four-year colleges or universities because parenting a child would be more difficult to attend with the other students who didn’t have circumstances like mine.
While this was certainly the toughest time of my life, I did eventually win the custody of my son! It felt amazing to have him back in my arms under my protection where I finally knew what kind of parent I was capable of being. However, although the battle was won, the war wasn’t over; I knew I needed to be better, smarter, and stronger so that no one would question my competence to parent my son again. I started to take school more seriously than I ever have before. I researched and took risks when it came to apply to colleges. After some time and three colleges later, I ultimately found the school that was right not just for me but for my son.
Of course, there were other multiple lessons along the way but my third important lesson was the most difficult to come by…forgiveness. It has nearly been nine years since the shattering actions of my dad had occurred. Although I am now in my mid-twenties with sole custody of my son with a college degree, a voice, and my independence,
I needed to learn how to move on without being hindered by the fear my dad had left in me.
Educating myself academically was important to me, but I knew school wasn’t the only place someone can obtain vast knowledge. Knowledge can be found by listening to those who love you and those around you in your community. More critically, you need to listen to your own heart and mind. Forgiveness is love. Deep inside me, I knew the fear I had needed to be replaced by love. Fear breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds hate. However, love breeds hope…a hope for a better tomorrow, a hope to become a better human being, a hope to become a better mother.
I had to make this decision to forgive my dad, not only for my son, but also for myself.