How This Teen Mom Balanced Work and a Child

It's no secret that teen moms often get bad reputations when they do anything other than go to school, go to work, and raise their baby. Many people wonder how young balance everything, and other young moms would love to know the secret to a perfectly balanced life.

In truth, there is none. Even so, I've decided to do a five part series divulging my power and balance struggles since becoming a mother. Each part to this series will reveal a year by year diary working through the different aspects of my life. This part (Part 1) will reveal my work balance. Enjoy!

9th grade
I got pregnant in December of 2007, which made me a freshman in high school. Prior to my pregnancy, I didn't ever hold a clock punching job. I did certain things for money like cutting grass, dog walking, and short term babysitting. When I got pregnant, one of the first things my mother told me (when she stopped screaming) was that I was going to have to get a job. As time would tell, the economy would tank soon after this point. My odd jobs became harder to find, and more difficult to do with my 24/7/365 morning sickness. Even though stores cannot discriminate against pregnant women, they are still reluctant to hire them. So by the end of ninth grade, I still did not hold a clock punching job.

10th grade
I had my baby on September 1st, 2008. The first two months of tenth grade, I was not focused on finding a job at all. I was still getting used to the swing of things on top of battling crippling PPD. At the advice of my mom and my doctor, I sought to find a job ASAP in hopes that it would help my PPD. I managed to get a job at a fast food joint near my house. I made $6.25 an hour and I worked about 12 hours a week. My mother's rules for working were that I must save twenty dollars out of each biweekly paycheck and put it into a savings account for the baby, and I could save fifteen for myself, but the rest of it had to be used on immediate expenses for the baby. The teenager in me was not happy about that arrangement, but the mom in me knew it was the right thing to do. Working and going to school really did help my PPD, as I was set in my brain for some reason that my child's no-reason-for-crying cries were a sign of my failure as a parent. Having ways to better my life and my daughter's made me feel a lot better about myself and made me a better mom for it.

11th grade
I continued working at the fast food job through much of 11th grade. By now, I was working 16-20 hours a week, but during the past summer it was closer to 30-35. Minimum wage raised to $7.25 during this point, so I was seeing larger checks. It still wasn't nearly enough for everything she needed, but it was a lot better than nothing. Things were looking up, and it was great. I was hit with a bump in the road in March of 2010 when the store was announcing that it would be closing in May. We were all given the option to transfer to other stores, but I chose my store because I could walk to it. I had no choice but to take my severance pay and look for another job. The job market was very competitive, and many places wanted adults who could work any hours of the day, not some high school girl with "questionable morals" and "poor decision making skills." I managed to work for a Girl Scout camp, but it only lasted for five days, or one camp session. I worked ten hours a day, five days a week, and made $250 dollars. Thankfully I didn't have to any taxes on it. In addition to the crappy pay, it was also an hour and a half from my house, so I would wake up at 6am and not be back until 6:30pm. One day I got back around 7:15 because traffic was terrible. But a job's a job, I suppose. I did start getting odd jobs again so that was the bulk of my income after my first job closed down.

12th grade
I was putting up fliers everywhere trying to keep up with my odd jobs. I did babysitting, pet sitting, garden maintenance, car washing and waxing, just anything for some money for my daughter so I can get her what she needs. In December of 2011, I found another job. I am a classically trained pianist, and my church needed a new organist because the original one moved away. It was way out of my element, and I'm sure it was for the choir members, some of whom had children my age. But one of the biggest job perks was that it came with the church parsonage, a house. My mother was skeptical about moving into a new home, but working for the church had some really nice benefits. I didn't have to pay for health insurance anymore, and the water, home insurance, and electric were all included in the deal. Even though the benefits were sweet, it was not an easy job at all. I took music classes so I could learn how to properly conduct a choir of people. I had to plan out the music each week for the church service and for the choir, I had to run a practice and two major cantatas every Christmas and Easter. It was a lot of work, but it came with great peace of mind. I could do much of the planning at home, so it gave me much more time to spend with my family.

College Freshmen
I attend a college 35 minutes away from my home. I do not have a car, but my parents and husband were supportive and helpful in getting me to school as long as I gave them gas money. I was still working for the church, and my husband and stepson moved into the parsonage with my family. It was crowded, but we made do. It was an uneventful year for the job hunt, but after my struggles, I consider it a success.

College Sophomore
I am only five weeks into my second year of college, so this year is a work in progress. Due to some issues between my dad and husband, we moved out of the parsonage. My husband and I live in our own apartment now, and my parents and sisters kept the house. (I know, I'm a sucker because my job pays for the house, but my mom needed it more than my husband and I) My sister in law lives with us for the time being, so she helps us out with the bills. I still do not have a car, but it is much easier getting to school with public transport where I am now. In addition to being the church choir director, I also have a very part time (6 hrs/week) work study job to help offset my tuition. Money is a little tight, but everything gets taken care of. There's not as much personal money, but I guess it comes with the territory of being a mom.

Prospects for the Future
At the end of this coming winterim semester at school, I will have enough college credits to take the state exam to become a para professional in the school system. I plan on looking into this as a part time career option because it would be great to get classroom experience before I become a teacher. I may also look into working as a non-student employee at my work study job so I do not have to worry about payment caps. There are a lot of choices that I have to make for the future, and I am constantly trying to move forward and make progress for the sake of myself and my family. Even though I've done good for the most part job wise, I realize that some of it has been luck, and I try not to take that for granted. My ultimate goal is to become a special education teacher, preferably doing early intervention work for young children with disabilities. I am sure that my goals will change as I do, but that's what I am aiming for right now. That and to make my daughter, my husband, and my stepson proud of me.