10 Steps Forward 5 Back

I recently went to the RMV to take my permit test. After waiting 3 hours I was told that I could not take the test because I had my son with me, who they do not allow in the testing room. They told me they assumed I had someone with me to watch him. They told me that if I was taking a test in school I would not be allowed to bring my son in with me.

If this had happened to me a few years ago I would have reacted a lot differently then I did. I kindly let them know it would be a courtesy to the customers to either put up a sign, put it on your website, or tell us at customer service. I kindly told them that if I had to take a test a school I could bring him. I kindly told them that I do not have someone I can just leave my son with.

When I was first told I could not take the test I was so angry and discouraged. After failing the test 6 years ago I was so afraid to go in and take it. I got past that fear and went and studied and was ready. I never needed my permit/license until I had my son; it would make life easier for both us. It would also free up space on the bus and train; my carriage is pretty big. I was embarrassed; I was ashamed, and so upset. Honestly, I just felt like I was being shut down; like a door was being shut in my face.

A part of me gets it. They do not want anyone to fail the test because they were disturbed. However, I feel like they need to accommodate their customers if they have children. Why are you turning down someone who is trying to better their life for themselves and child? I have a 4 month old son who breastfeeds every 2-3 hours so he needs to be with me. I should not be turned away because of this.

A big part of me does not even want to go and take the test now. I am more nervous then I was before. I am going to stress about how long it has been since I last breastfed him. I am going to worry about if I can get someone to watch him or come with me; will I have to pay them to watch him? All of these factors are going to affect me while I am taking the test. So what are my chances of passing now?

I guess the only thing I am positive about is that I will go back and take the permit test, I have to. I need this for me and my son. If I fail, then I fail and will be better prepared for next time. I will not let the way certain things are shut me down like they have before. After all it is no longer just about me. Hopefully society can learn to support young parents, learn to help us, and learn to not shut us down.

How To Be An Ally To Young Parents

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#MamasDay 2014

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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.

One Toddler, Two Languages?

I grew up in the Dominican Republic and was taught to speak, read and write in Spanish. During the years that I lived there, Spanish was my only language spoken. When I was 8, I came to America and all of a sudden, my primary language was being changed. I had no option but to learn English, learn the way people live in this country, and adapt to how we are supposed to interact with one another. If I wanted to succeed, I needed to know English, there was no way that just speaking Spanish was going to get me by in school and out in the world.

LilyNow that I’m a mother and I’m raising a child in America, I have a hard time choosing which language to teach my daughter. I have had so many pleasant and unpleasant conversations about the language that my daughter should speak. The issue is that people feel like my daughter should maintain her “Latina culture” but what they don’t seem to understand is that I am her mother, not them. I will teach and show my daughter the Dominican the culture. I will do this not because I have to, but because it is good for my daughter to know where her mother was born, where her family is from. I want my daughter to be educated on her family history. I know that by exposing her to as much Dominican culture and language as I can, I will give her a form of clarity of who she is as a person. Overall, it will be my daughter’s choice on how she takes in all this information and what she will do with it. Regardless of what my daughter learns, I do not have the last say of who she becomes or what language she will speak. My daughter will interpret all the information I hand her, in her own way.

My daughter is two years old and for her to learn two languages and two different cultures at this age is a lot. I know that explaining and teaching her two languages now means that she may not know how to explain herself to certain people. I believe that there is no rush for a two year old to learn her “Latina culture” right now, she has a lifetime to do so.  As a young parent, I’m constantly questioned the decisions I make because people assume I put no thought into them. In reality, I spend a lot of time thinking deeply about them. I use my own experiences and what I have learned to make these decisions. So it’s unfair to question my parenting just because my daughter isn’t speaking Spanish.

The Support I Needed to Help My Son

My son was born 9.14 oz when he was born! He was a giant baby and because of his weight I believe it made it so much easier for him to sit up and crawl and stand up at an earlier age. He was a really strong baby and because of that he even took his first steps at 9 months!

He was also was very good at exploring the world around him. He never really found interest in his toys but rather in simple things like a shoe box or a remote control. I loved watching him be so curious because I knew that in that little head there were many many new connections being made in that tiny little brain. But around the time he was 15 months I really began to worry about him.

My son was at the age where he should have had at least 4 words in his vocabulary and he didn’t . He didn’t say mama or papa. He would also still cry like a 9 month old baby who couldn’t express his wants. When I mentioned this to his doctor she recommended that he get tested to see if he would qualify for early intervention and it turned out that he actually did need early intervention for his speech delay.

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Although it’s normal for kids to have a delay in speech it made me a little sad. Would my son not speak until he was 3? Would he have the same learning disabilities as I did when I was a child? These were all questions that I had. After finding out that my son had a delay I worked a lot harder to make sure he was getting the stimulation he needed to speak. I would repeat words to him over and over making sure I said it slow enough for him to hear the pronunciation.

He started getting speech therapy and even then he said nothing. I became frustrated because after weeks of trying to get to speak he still didn’t say anything. But one day, I went to pick him up  day care and his teacher said that he had been calling me all day, “mommy” . I felt my heart warm up a little bit and I thought it was the cutest thing and he has not stopped repeating ” mommy” over 30 times.

Today at 18 months he knows how to say mas (more), car, chu chu (train), leche (milk), and of course mommy. Even though I’m still waiting in him to say more words I’m glad he has progressed. I believe that reading books to him and having conversations with him has really helped him to start speaking. I also turned everything into a pointing game where I point to something and then name it with a high pitch voice. I have no doubt in my mind that he will one day be able to speak just fine. Until then I will continue to work with his speech therapist to make sure I am doing all the right things.

Being an Activist!

Being an activist for young parents is not something you can do from a text book. You have to be able to connect or relate to other young parents. Also to understand the foot steps we take on a daily basis and the obstacles we endure. It’s hard for young parents to take advice and encouragement from someone who cannot connect or understand. Criticism or judgement does nothing but push us away.

I found that sharing my own story can motivate other young parents, who may be going through the same or similar struggles that I am. I still endure the daily trials but I am also progressing in my parenting journey to provide a stable life for my son. My story is not one of success. This means that I can be an inspiration and give advice as to what I am CURRENTLY doing to make better choices to achieve my personal goals.

When I hear stories from others who have been through or are going through the same tribulations I’m currently facing, it makes me feel as if I’m not alone in my battle. This pushes me to continue making positive and beneficial moves for my family.

My last blog

To My Dear Ambassadors and Three Great Supervisors,

I am so grateful to have met you all. Even though I am leaving or gone by now just know that I already miss you all. Its weird how we all got so close this past couple of months I feel like I know each one of you so personally. We are like a family we have the crazy one you know who you are the mom the funny one the shy one and so on and that’s what makes us so fun and unique.

More than anything we are all young mothers and we understand each other’s struggles and achievements we pick each other up when we fall . We laugh and cry together. I just want to let you all know that I’m so proud of all of you and I hope I will make you proud if me. You are all wonderful moms and great friends. I will be thinking of you guys when I’m scared or when I feel like given up because you all strengthen me. I love you all and God bless you and your families.

Sincerely,

Wonder Woman

Mommies Night Out!

photoAs we all know by now having a kid can get quite stressful, and that’s why we mothers have a stress getaway called “mommies night out”! As I have always said since the beginning of my journey being a mom, wanting a break and time away from reality is always okay and no mother should feel as if they were a bad mom if they wanted it.

Some of the YPA’s and I recently had a mommies’ night out. It was so much fun. Not because we were out and relaxing, but because we all had in common the fact of going back home to our babies. It’s great to go out and spend time with other mothers. We can talk about common stresses and find out new things about each other.

After a night of excitement and joy going back to your child is such a wonderful feeling and that is key. Having a night out doesn’t only give you a break from reality but also a chance to miss your child and gives a special excitement to seeing them again.

We all came to an agreement that we will definitely be doing these outings at least once a month. I am more and more grateful everyday to be able to share experiences like these with whom I consider my sisters.

I also think personally these outings are important because it’s one of the few ways that a young parent can balance being young and a mom, in my case having time to be a teenager because at the end of the day I am a teenager and having a kid doesn’t change that fact.

Having Young Mom Support

About a couple of months ago I met young mothers from the YPA program who were my age and who loved and cared for their children but who  also struggled just like me. I never thought I would get to know and love them as much as I do now. We have all seen each other at  our highs and at our lows. Being able to share with them the good and the bad has allowed me to be more comfortable with them. At the beginning of the program I had just broken up with my sons father and I was feeling  crappy. I was  known to go back to him many times but these ladies indirectly made me feel worthy and they taught me to  have self respect and to walk away from the very man who was still upset at the fact I had his child. Being part of this group helped me to love my decision of becoming a mother even if that meant no one else did. It took a couple of months for me to stand up to everyone and let them know that i loved my child regardless of our  situation. I no longer felt bad for having a child or being a single mother.I learned to embrace and love the life i am living.

I have a group of powerful strong minded women who encourage me to stand up for my son and I. These women have also made me realize the meaning of true friends.  Most of my friends dumped me after having a child but these ladies have shown so much love that I stopped caring for my old friends.  I have enjoyed laughing with them and  I’m glad i have people I can talk to all day about baby poop and little baby attitudes. I especially love when our kids get together because it reminds me that our kids are what brought us together in the first place. I will admit that I push all of them away at times but deep down I care so much for these women who have given me so much hope that I never got from everyone. They are my support system and I honestly don’t know where I would be mentally and emotionally if it wasn’t for them.