Being a leader to my children.

melissa photoI believe that a leader is someone that people look up to. I feel like I am somewhat a silent leader. I’d like to think that sometime in the future I will be seen as a leader for others but for right now I am focused on being a leader for my daughters. Life changes when you have children as many people have experienced. There have been many challenges I have faced since becoming a mother, but I feel so blessed to have my children in my life. They are my inspiration to work harder, reach higher, and become a better person-possibly a known leader.

When I became a mother I realized that everything was no longer about me. Everything I do now is for my daughters and their future. I want to be the person they look up to and want to be like. I aim to have a great relationship with them and love them unconditionally. I want to give them all the things I never had as a child. I am their mother and their leader.

I have learned that even though the roads aren’t always plain and smooth, life teaches us things we can learn in the future. I am proud to parent because I feel like this experience gives me a chance at leadership. These experiences become part of us and we may touch others in our lives by sharing these experiences. Being a young parent I want to encourage others that are in the same situation and motivate them to push forward no matter what. Leaders aren’t always well known but when you do take that time to reach out to someone and be that voice for them-even if it is to that one person, you are a leader.

Not just about me

ashley photoWhen I knew I was going to have my son, Liam, everything changed. I stopped smoking and drinking – I made a commitment to eat really healthy. I also began to research everything I could find about pregnancy; pintrest became my best friend. However, I knew I also needed to change the environment I was around. This choice was the most difficult. Choosing to remove myself from dysfunction also meant loosing someone I love. He didn’t agree with what I wanted for our son. I wanted safety, I wanted love, I wanted happiness, I wanted a calm enviorment, I wanted to give my son the beginning I never had. I changed so quickly when I knew I was going to be a mom, I had no choice. I guess I shocked him, I can understand. I couldn’t wait though I needed to do what I had to.

I want to be the best me I can for Liam. With that comes giving up a lot of things I did before I had him. It also means walking away from whatever is unsafe and unhealthy. Its difficult sometimes when my friends ask me to come out and hang with them. Or ask me when I won’t be breastfeeding anymore so I can drink. My son is only 2 months old so me not being around is not really an option. I also do not have anyone that can really watch him at this point, he is always with me. With this however, I get to see him explore the world in a different way everyday. I have not missed one of his smiles. I love this, it will definitely be a struggle when I go back to work in a month.

Being a young mom, doing this pretty much on my own is so difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried. I also cannot tell you how many times I have smiled. At this point I have also really started to look at my goals and priorities. Ones which I need to do not just for my son but also me. Looking at everything that I need to do can be really overwhelming, but it helps when I remind myself that I can accomplish them, and that it doesn’t have to happen over night.

My world is no longer about just me. It’s no longer about just living in the moment and doing whatever I want. My world is now about making my son’s world safe, healthy and beautiful. Everyday I probably do something wrong, but I also probably do something right!

Contribute to the 2015 Young Parent Anthology!

Anthology

Knowledge is Power

My name is Grace Garcia and I’ve been a young parent ambassador for the past 16 months. As my time is up I have had a chance to reflect on my journey.

When I first started the program I believed that I knew exactly what all young parents were like and what they needed because I was a young parent. I believed I knew everything there was to know about the young parent community but over time I realized I was wrong. Not all parents were on food stamps and not all single parents were mothers and not everyone needed to go to college to be successful.

I also went into the program believing that I had made a mistake by becoming a mom and I thought my story would prevent teens from having babies. But my whole view on teen pregnancy was wrong. I associated unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to teen pregnancy and there is a difference that I have come to know.

Being part of the ambassadors program helped me to become aware of the issues my community faced and how these issues directly affect me. For example, racism was something I believed didn’t exist  anymore but now I know how greatly it has impacted me and how racism still exist not just between people but also in the schools systems and in government institutions. This has changed my perception of life and it is a constant reminder when I step outside my home in a “bad” neighborhood.

When I started this program I thought I had made a mistake when I had my child at 19 and even though he made my life better I felt a lot of pressure to say the opposite. I almost felt lucky because I wasn’t like the other teens that were made to think and say that having a child ruined their life. Before I associated unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to teen pregnancy and this was not necessarily true. I love being a mom and I learned that it’s ok!

I have to thank every person who I have come across on this program especially the ones who made me smile. Thank you to the people who supported me during my toughest times. And I have to thank the program for teaching me so much that school and my community failed to teach me after all “Knowledge is power” and I look forward to whatever great things life has next for me.

 

STEPS

Untitled design

How To Be An Ally To Young Parents

tumblr_n4uqd8b8n21txqnv4o1_1280

 

Breastfeeding is Empowering!

I breastfed my daughter for a year and six months (maybe a little more). I do not remember exactly when I stopped breastfeeding, even though it was a huge moment in both Lily’s life and mine. I tried to stop breastfeeding as soon as she became 11 months but breastfeeding was heaven for me. I gained an amazing connection with my daughter that I will forever be thankful for. I believe that our bond became stronger because my daughter felt safe, happy, and comfortable through this experience. After lily shots or when she was sick I would breastfeed her and that would calm her down in seconds. I never had to struggle to put my daughter to sleep as soon as she was on the breast she would drift away. My daughter and I were in our own bubble when I was breastfeeding her.

My daughter’s health is great and I believe breastfeeding was the cause of this. It is rare for my daughter to get sick; she does not get as sick as other children in the winter. So I am thrilled that she does not have health issues.

Breastfeeding was comforting to my daughter. I know that when I breastfeed lily she was more relaxed and happy. Everyone in my life supported my decision for breastfeeding. I would have my mother Spanish remedies to increasing my milk supply. I think that having this support made a difference in the connection that I had with my daughter. Having people cheer you on about breastfeeding is great and makes you want to continue and make the experience last a little bit longer.

I weighed 150 lbs. when I gave birth. After I stopped breastfeeding I weighed 98. Losing this weight was bittersweet. It was bad because I wanted to gain more weight after birth, but the good thing is that my body looked great afterwards. I could not believe that breastfeeding could cause such a weight change.

I stopped breastfeeding because I was becoming too skinny, my daughter used my boobs for comfort, and my schedule did not work with breastfeeding. My daughter would want to stay on the breast all day. She would pull my shirt and position herself for it, would play and watch TV while still being on the breast. It was weird to have her do this. But even with those negatives I wanted to continue breastfeeding.

It was empowering. I felt like any other mother out there. I did not feel just like a young mother, I felt like a powerful mom. Breastfeeding makes you feel powerful. That’s what I loved about it. I feel that my body was made to nurture a child. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again to gain those emotions and awesome breastfeeding moments.

Tips on breastfeeding:

  • Always have that medical soothing for sore breast. It helps to apply it when the breast hurts. Helping to prevent sore breast.
  • Drink lots of fluid throughout the day. The more you drink the more your breast supply.
  • Remember what you eat and drink will influence what your child eats and drinks
  • Wear clothing that is easy to pull your breast out easily.
  • Turtle necks are a hassle when trying to breast feed
  • Breastfeeding bra are great but not necessarily needed.
  • Do not through away all your old bras, you may actually go back to the same cup.

Leave a comment below with your questions and tips!

And Then I Remember…

There are days when hiding in my closet is an option

There are days when pulling out my hair is an option

There are days when I can scream ’til my voice is no more

And then I remember I have the strength of two lions

That I’m not the same person I used to be

That bald may not be the look for me

That my closet doesn’t have a light and I really don’t like the dark

That I like talking

There are days when running is an option

There are days when crying is an option

And then I remember I have enough babies for that so turning into one may not be the best idea

That I’ll get one hell of a work out running and I’m sure I’ll get chased

Point is when the negative comes creeping just remember I do. 🙂

Getting Started on Your Anthology Submission

Our current culture is often having discussions about young parenthood without including the voices of young parents. We’re often told what should motivate us, why we should be happy, and our dreams are defined for us – without our input. As we advocate for respect, autonomy, support, and recognition, our viewpoints have often been considered unconventional.

I know how frustrating this can be.

The idea that all young parents need the same things is inaccurate and unjust. We all live different lives with different stories, backgrounds, and histories. The one thing we do experience is feeling like way too many people are trying to narrate our lives from their perspectives.

The annual young parent anthology is an opportunity for young parents to share stories, views, opinions, art, and creativity through their lens. This anthology is a collection of honest and genuine pieces created by young parents for young parents. Our mission is to publish and distribute these anthologies to other young parents and continue spreading positivity and empowerment throughout our communities.

If you are interested in submitting a piece, the submission guidelines are simple. There are 3 themes (motivation, happiness, and making your dreams a reality) and all submissions can be in writing or art form and in any language!

If you need help getting started, here are 10 prompts to think about:

1. Share a story about a time when you felt the happiest.

2. How would you define success as a young parent? Does it differ from others’ definitions?

3. What are some of your dreams and how are you achieving them?

4. How do you find and maintain your happiness?

5. If you could create an ideal environment for young parents, what would it look like?

6. What are some of the amazing things you have learned about yourself through struggles, obstacles, and hardship?

7. What motivates you? Write about the good, the bad, or the weird things that have motivated you to keep going.

8. Tell a story about a time when you challenged someone else’s definition of happiness or success.

9. Describe your epic journey. If your child wrote you a letter to you in 20 years, what would you hope he/she would say about your journey?

10. Write a letter to a younger you. What motivating and inspiring things would you tell yourself?

Comments? Ideas? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! More details about the anthology can be found here: BeProudToParent.org/Anthology.

A Mother’s Fight

I realize that you feed off my energy, my fight, my love and for that… I fight.

I realize that feeding you, bathing you, dressing you is only half the battle.

I will fight because better me = better you.

I was told never to use the saying “Do as I say not as I do,” because when you see me do or say something, you are bound to do the sooner or later. I can’t fight you for what I have taught you and since I know you’re watching, watch mommy put up a fight for you, watch how mommy loves you, teaches you, supports you, always forgives you, and never let you go.

As you watch, pay close attention to the words I use to help you to help us to fight and make sure you choose those fighting words wisely. Know that along with a fight comes sacrifice and for you I will always do that, no matter what. So as I pave the way, you may see mommy cry but just know they are tears of joy and when I look at you, know that it’s because you make me so happy.

This fight ain’t easy sweetie and boy did mommy have to start young, but guess what… we got through it.