The Scoop on Teen Parenting
By: Leila Mortazavi
I made the decision to become a parent at 18 years old. Though unplanned, it was still a decision. Each year after I gave birth I did what I could (and still do) to support myself and my child in the best way I knew how. As a teen mom, transitioning to parenthood is a challenge. I found myself trying to adjust to taking care of myself and a newborn, but also dealing with the new label that had been placed upon me by society. From the assumed ignorance by nurses and health practitioners to dirty looks from ladies at the grocery store, I found myself drowning. I was drowning trying to find myself in a way that connected with my title as a mother and my age. One day I realized, though, we ALL have the same goal in life. No matter whom you are, what you are doing, or where you are going, the goal is the same. Happiness! One simple word that sums it all up. So in my quest to prove that I was a competent parent and good person with good morals, at some point I finally realized that I can relax because it doesn’t matter what everyone thinks. We all have our pasts and poor decision-making, and in the end we all just want to be happy.
So I continued on serving and bartending to make ends meet and realized at some point that my purpose in life was more than shaking up a good martini. I didn’t know what this purpose was, but I knew that it probably started with an education. I enrolled at Ivy Tech and began taking classes toward a nursing degree. One semester I registered too late and all of the classes were full, so I thought “Hey, let’s see what this human services class is all about.” DING DING DING- everything made sense. Everything came together. I found exactly what I wanted and had to do. So now, four years later, I have one year left until I graduate from the School of Social Work at IUPUI. I’m currently working at the most awesome nonprofit organization, Project Home Indy. Their mission is to provide a nurturing residential environment to enable homeless teenage girls who are pregnant or parenting to gain self-sufficiency. Hey, that kind of works for me doesn’t it? Working at Project Home allows me to use my experience combined with my education to help young mothers transition into parenthood, learn independent living skills, and sustain self-sufficiency. And if that sounds like a lot- it’s because it is! The girls amaze me every day, because they are amazing. So next time you see a young mom, try to shut down all of those judgmental thoughts that we all can’t help, and maybe give her a pat on the back. She’s just trying to be happy.