I Am the Two Percent

Back-to-School Week continues with more advice for pregnant and parenting students in college — a much-neglected segment of the parenting world, yet some of the most ambitious, hard-working people I've met.

Next up, a guest post from Emily — a young mom who DID IT...

college mom
college mom

By Emily Lingenfelser

Less than two percent of teenage mothers will obtain their college degree by the age of 30 —

As I sat in my high school's library reading this statistic, I felt completely overwhelmed with emotion. I was a senior who had big dreams and just happened to be pregnant. Even if people didn't say so, it was clear that everyone thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

They were wrong.

I spent the next five years struggling my way through motherhood and college. Every single day was challenging and hard. It was difficult trying to juggle the life of a young mother with that of a single college student. I was constantly searching for who I was in all of it, and there were days I almost gave up on school. But as I thought back to that statistic I read in my high school library, I knew that I couldn't let myself and my son become another teen mom statistic. So I pushed forward, even on the days that I thought I could not.

Being a mother was always my main priority, but I often felt like I was spreading myself too thin. At one point I was working 40+ hours a week and taking 15 college credits. I felt guilty for having to put the extra hours into homework and spend late night’s writing papers. Even when I was present, it seemed as if I was not able to give 100 percent of myself to being both a mother and a student. I had to make difficult sacrifices when it came to my son and my education, but little by little, I learned how to make it work for us.

As my son grew older, he started to understand the concept of college. I was no longer just on the computer or having to spend time away from him; he knew that I was going to classes or working on homework. He knew that I was striving to make our lives better. We started spending time on campus, and he constantly talked about the day he’d go to college like his mama.

My time in college was not what you would consider typical. I went to Chuck E. Cheese ten times more than I went to bars or parties, I had to change my roommate’s dirty diapers, and I was responsible for the upbringing of a little person. But I would not have changed a single thing about my experience. It was a blessing to have my son by my side through those five years and it's something that I will continue to treasure for the rest of my life.

The day I graduated was one of the proudest days of my life. My son sat on the bleachers with his Papa, waving and cheering me on. It had taken me five years, but I had done it. We had done it.

With tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I knew that I was no longer a statistic.

***

Related posts:

A Teen Mom, 10 Years Later

Reason #12: Sharing Your Accomplishments

How to Balance School and Motherhood