I Became a Mom at 18 and in College — Here’s My Advice to Young Latina Moms
Out of all my life experiences, motherhood has definitely been the most difficult and rewarding journey. Though motherhood can begin at any stage of a woman’s life, young Latina moms face particular challenges.
Think lack of support for their careers, immense criticism for their age or marital status, and mental health issues.
Many young Latina moms face these obstacles while dealing with all the demanding responsibilities that come with pregnancy and raising children.
A journey full of fear and prejudice
When I became a mom unexpectedly at eighteen, I was in college. I couldn’t imagine a worse situation, especially when telling my Mexican family.
I can still remember the fear that swept over me as I held the positive test in front of me after I came home from class. Due to my family’s beliefs, abortion wasn’t a choice I considered. I felt stuck but, more than anything, scared. How was I going to focus on school with a baby on the way? Was I ready for motherhood? What would this do to my family?
Naturally, I told the people I trusted most first: my brother and sister. They were both shocked and nervous about me telling my parents, especially my dad. Though this made my anxiety worse, I felt somewhat safe because they had my back should things go badly.
The talk of being a disappointment was not surprising. However, the judgment and stares I got from both family and strangers were heartbreaking and overwhelming.
There was so much pressure to get married, leave school to focus on being a mom, and just have more kids.
In a family that never discussed birth control or sexual health, I felt isolated and as though every choice I made would be wrong.
Looking back on my rocky start in motherhood, I have a few pieces of advice I’d like to share with young Latina moms.
Blocking out the hate is key for Latina moms
Just because you are young doesn’t mean you are not capable.
People, family included, will always have something to say about your parenting style and life choices.
When I told my parents I was pregnant at eighteen, they did not believe I could finish college and raise a child at the same time.
I was told to choose one or the other or relinquish all their support.
Thankfully, they eventually came around to accepting my situation, but having to prove myself as a young mother over and over became exhausting.
I worked tirelessly to mend the respect of my parents. I felt I had broken. Making sure that I kept getting good grades and making the Dean’s List a few semesters in a row were small victories that motivated me to keep going.
Once my daughter was born, teaching her to sleep through the night while also staying up late to study for exams was one of the biggest challenges I faced. Thankfully, she was an easygoing baby during the day.
I was always up early to catch the bus to school, helped around the house as much as possible, and worked part-time, just as so many Latina moms have always done.
I never missed any doctor’s appointments, and I graduated college with honors and a toddler in tow.
In retrospect, I should have been more proud of myself
But even with this accomplishment and all the effort I made, people still had hurtful things to say about having a child so young. Those comments made me doubt myself and fueled my depression. One comment I heard constantly was, “How will you teach your daughter morals if you aren’t even married?”
This advice might be easier said than done, but learning not to let others’ criticisms shape how you see yourself will incredibly benefit your mental health.
For so long, I focused on people’s judgment of me, I couldn’t focus on what truly mattered.
At 23 years old, I learned about self-care, and I feel this was a huge turning point in my journey as a mother. I realized I really couldn’t teach my daughter what self-love was if this was something I didn’t do for myself.
Creating a skincare routine, reading, and journaling became critical to healing and strengthening my mental health. I finally felt good in my own skin and began to enjoy motherhood more.
Finding a network of young moms on Facebook was a helpful resource where I could finally relate to others, and it taught me that there was no “one way” to be a mother.
I also joined a local “baby cafe” where mothers could bring their little ones and talk about challenges and offer advice. Having both of these branches of support helped me to see that my fears about my choices as a mother were valid.
You are not just a mom
If motherhood taught me anything, it’s that you will never wear just a single hat.
No matter if you’re a working or stay-at-home mom, you will also be a nurse when your little ones are sick.
You will probably be a cook, a teacher, and a personal assistant to your kids. You will be their favorite person ever, but also the most disliked person when it comes to bedtime.
Yes, you are a mom, but you are also human. You’re allowed to be tired and frustrated, to have fun and relax.
Especially to young Latina moms, it’s okay not to have it all together.
I’ve met other incredible Latina moms. They’ve shown me how different everyone’s journey is and that there is no deadline for achieving your dreams.
Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. Still, also give yourself credit for doing your best and not giving up.
You are not just a mom; you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.
Remember, you are strong and capable.
Get up, do your hair and makeup (or not), and take on the world because you are enough. Amiga, do what makes you happy because you deserve it.
Notice any corrections needed? Please email us at email@example.com