Across the Pond: A single mother’s journey thus far…

Kadesh-Anderson

Growing Pains

At age 18, I was a rebellious teenager, self centered, disrespectful and I never listened to a word my mother use to say. Each and every weekend, I was either clubbing or just purposely hanging out with my friends just to avoid being at home. Also, I was drinking by this time but not sexually active.

During this time, I started to notice boys and I found my interest in them like a new piece of clothing that I became fascinated with. I changed my hair style, dressed trendier and because I was working 25 hours a week whilst in college I felt rich.

In retrospect, I understand that I was definitely going through a teenage crisis. The relationship with my mother became strained because she would lecture me about doing chores and the dangers of being out late at night. She wanted me to spend more time at home, but her words would go in one ear and out the other. The ‘rebellious’ part of me hated being at home and I was horrible to my siblings. I had a foul mouth and at times, my behavior towards my mother was dis-respectful. Add to that, I started dating a guy, not just any guy, but someone who would soon become key part of my future. This is where it all went downhill.

Mum…I’m gonna be a Mom

At the age of 19, my life officially changed. I can remember so clear, waking up for my doctor’s appointment to discuss contraception and finding out I was pregnant. I was in my last year at college, around the same time I was due to sit my final A-Level exams. I had filled out my UCAS application and got accepted in all 6 universities I applied for.

I sat in the doctor’s office in complete shock by the news that I was pregnant. My first thought was how to tell my mom. I ran out the doctor’s office and called my mom in hysterics. Her reaction wasn’t what I expected, so I knew exactly what she was thinking. My mother stayed on the phone calm with no anger, just silence. Going forward, I knew I was in for the ‘I told you so’ moment. I had flashbacks of everything she had ever told me. Little did I know, all the advice, arguing and love that I was refusing would be summed up by this experience.

The next question was what was I going to do? I was just about to sit my exams and leave home for university in the September. I knew there was no way I could move away and take a baby with me to university. With all kinds of thoughts running through my mind I knew exactly what I was going to do. Having an abortion was my answer and an escape from reality.

Going to university was my main priority at the time so I knew I had to make a quick decision, even though it didn’t’t feel right. After thoroughly thinking the situation through I decided to keep my pregnancy. I managed to see a careers advisor at my college who helped me to find a course closer to home and also defer my university course for a year, to allow me to have my baby.

Balancing Act…

September 2008 is when it all began I had already settled back into my part time job off maternity leave and weaned my son into nursery. It was soon time to face a bigger challenge, my start to university. My degree was full-time and my job was part time 20 hours a week and I was a single mother with a 9months old baby. I was balancing all these roles to the best of my abilities.

My job wasn’t really flexible so most days I would have to work double shifts on the weekend to get days off in the week for university. I no longer had a life, sometimes I would have to leave my lectures early to pick up my son. My university was 50 minutes away from home so I needed to take the train, which was not always reliable. Whenever the train would break down I would have to call the nursery and explain about my lateness, which would result in the owner and her daughter taking my son home until I returned. My mother works long shifts as a Nurse and wasn’t always available and unfortunately my son’s dad was of no help. The reality that I needed to do everything made life extremely overwhelming at the time.

I struggled to balance my life at home and my life as a student. I use to come home and cook, spend time with my son and then rush him to bed just so I could complete my essays and meet strict deadlines. Most times I would go to bed at 2:00 am after completing essays and have work at 9:00am and then head to university straight after. I was exhausted. I felt like a bad mother for multi-tasking so many things at once. I could barely spend time with my son because university and work had taken over my entire life.

My routine of life began to have an impact on my academic performance. My lecturers use to tell me that my work always seemed rushed and lacked effort. I remember a time when things got so bad that my lecturer told me that I needed to go part time because she felt that I was doing too much. At that time I felt like I had given up all hope. There was only one more person on my course that had kids, but she was older. Our struggles were similar, except that she didn’t have to tackle working too.

When my lecturer told me to drop my course to part time my self esteem dropped too. I didn’t’t feel good enough and I felt that having a baby meant that I wasn’t adequate like the rest of the students on the course. I went through a phase where I wouldn’t’t even attend my lectures. I stayed at home with my son, went to work and then came home. After going through cycles of feeling down and missing my lectures at university, I finally faced my fears.

Reclaiming My Passion & Purpose

I started to believe in myself, I know life wasn’t perfect but I knew I had a journey to fulfill. I brushed myself off, attended all my lectures and showed my lecturers that I could do it. I was determined to set an example to young mothers around me and inspire them to keep moving forward. But most of all, I wanted to be an inspiration to my son. After 3 long years of continuous work, I finally graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Honours in Radio Journalism and Media. By the time of my graduation I was 24 my son was 3 years old. Nothing touched my heart more than hearing my little boy shout. “There’s my mommy” as I collected my certificate.

Tears rolled down my face as the long struggle of 3 year was finally over. I did it, I’m still here and the best part is I’m an inspiration to many and I’m happy to share my story to help others get through. From that day onwards I hold my head up high and always tell myself, “I am not where I want to be but I am certainly not where I use to be”.

Kadesh Anderson ©

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