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English 401-Advanced Composition

Raising Each Other
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A Mom at 18


Paper 1-Version 4

Veronica Johnson

English 401

Dr. Judith Szerdahelyi

April 1, 2008


Raising Each Other


Being a kid is hard enough, but being a kid while raising a kid is no easy feat.  Ask any teenage girl who is trying to raise a baby while still in high school how hard life is for her.  I wasn’t in high school when I had my daughter, but I was still a kid. 


 “Because I’m the mom and I said so”, my mom said so many times when I asked why I couldn’t do something.  I swore that when I had a child of my own I would NEVER say those words.  Another favorite saying was, “Just wait until you have children of your own.  Everything bad you have ever done will come back on you a hundred times worse with your own child.” 


Getting away from my mother’s disdainful view of parenting was going to be my way of gaining some sort of freedom.  I guess I could have moved away for college, but I knew that she would still have some control over me; so instead, I married right out of high school, at the ripe old age of seventeen.  I would show her!  As soon as I was married she would have no say over what I did…


Imagine my surprise when, three months into my marriage, I found out I was pregnant. 

As excited as I was, my greatest fear was telling my mother.  For some strange reason I knew that this was not something she would be eager to hear. 


“You’re WHAT?” she seemed to scream at me.  I wasn’t quite sure if she was upset because she considered me too young to be a mother or if she thought she was too young to be a grandmother.  Either way, she was not happy and she made it known by not speaking to me for three months.


Being a mother at eighteen and divorced at twenty caused quite a rift between my mother and me.  Instead of having a mother to lean on, confide in, and console me when things were bad, I had to work extra hard to prove myself.


“I guess you’d better find a good paying job to support yourself and Ashley.  It’s not easy being a parent, and it’s gonna be even harder on you being a single mother,” she told me when my divorce was final.  “Don’t come crying to me when you can’t pay your bills!”


That was all of the motivation I needed to prove her wrong.  Although it wasn’t easy.    

Sometimes I felt as if my daughter, Ashley, were more like my little sister than my daughter. Or maybe I just wished that because I didn’t know how I was going to handle all of the responsibilities that came with being a single parent. 


The struggles of parenting are bad enough for married couples, but when you have to do it alone life seems even harder.  Living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if there would be enough money to keep the electric on another month or buy groceries to feed my child, kept my stomach in knots.  Only women who have been in the same situation could understand the embarrassment I felt every time I went to the health department to receive my W.I.C. vouchers.  Oftentimes, government assistance was the only way Ashley and I were able to survive.  Visits to Wal-Mart brought further humiliation as there were times when I had to dump the contents of my purse onto the conveyor belt in order to scrape together enough change to pay for diapers.  The looks of self-pity from the cashier and those in line behind or beside me, forced me to hang my head in shame.


The loneliness and fear that I was going to screw up Ashley’s psyche made me want to throw in the towel many times.  But if I did that, I would have to crawl back to my mother and ask for her help.  I knew that wasn’t an option I wanted to consider.  Ashley and I had each other and I was determined to find a way to make our lives fulfilling. 


Single parenting may have been hard but it had its perks, too!  Being a young mother afforded me the opportunity to do things with my daughter that a lot of the older mothers couldn’t do.  I was still young enough to act like a kid, and I had plenty of energy to keep up with her.  Spending the day at the park, going to the zoo, beauty pageants, shopping, soccer game, coaching her softball team, playing Barbies, or watching Gone With the Wind seven days a week…it didn’t matter what we did as long as we did it together.  If she was happy, I was happy, and that is all a parent could ever want for their child. 


As we both grew up and I acquired a better paying job, I was finally able to provide Ashley with amenities that I never thought would be possible.  For two years she attended a private Christian school.  While in preschool, she was nicknamed the “Mother Hen” because she seemed to have been born with a motherly instinct.  I hope, though, that my parenting has helped to instill in her the morals and values she will need to possess in order to be a good mother herself. 


Ashley has become a very self-sufficient, independent young woman.  When she becomes a mother herself, her children will be very lucky to have such a devoted and loving parent.  Every month is still a struggle to pay the bills, put food on the table, and a roof over our head, but we’ve managed to survive. I hope she knows I did my very best and that I love her unconditionally. 


“Because I’m your Nanny and I said so!” I’ve heard my mom tell her grandchildren over the years.  I can honestly say, I kept this promise to myself and NEVER used this phrase on my own daughter.  As for my sins coming back on me a hundred times worse through my daughter’s actions, I must have been blessed because she has been a wonderful daughter.


Raising a child is never easy, any parent can attest to that, but my experience was ten times harder and a million times more fun because we raised each other. 




Job Well Done