My Family's Strength

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

by Alexandra Vanegas

To many people, my having a child out of wedlock as a teenager meant I was going to fail. In the eyes of the naysayers, by choosing to give my child life I was doing my daughter, my community, and society a disservice. Because how could I ever amount to anything other than a disappointment?

To many people, I am stupid. I am reckless. I’m a slut. What a stupid mistake I made to become pregnant as a teenager. Wasn’t I smart enough to use protection? Why didn’t I make a better choice? This is what I feel them say when their judgment burns through me. To them, I am just another statistic, just another black girl who got knocked up.

To many people, the assumed 'broken home' that I have created by not being in a relationship with my daughter's father has no apparent benefit to her. In fact, to many people, my being the head of our household will mean failure for her as well. And so the cycle continues.

Too many times I doubted myself and my capacity to be a good mother. Far too often I let these negative thoughts creep into my thoughts, haunting me. Making me question my own strength and resilience. It was often with a shaky hand and self-doubt that I moved forward and persevered as a young single mom.

Too many people talking and passing judgment who were quick to count me out before speaking a single word to me. Too many people who know too little who think they know a lot, think they know that my family is weak.

With one hand lifted high in the sky, I stand firm and light the way for my family to move forward. My family’s strength doesn’t come from my age, it comes from our love and respect and commitment for each other. Could I have given up on my daughter and myself? It would have been easy. Too easy. I’ve learned that true strength comes from rising to the occasion; it comes from facing challenges and sometimes being beat. My family’s strength has come from our ability to get back up after we’ve been beat and come back stronger. Fiercer. I have an obligation to my daughter, my community, and myself and I intend on being held responsible. And so I continue to strive, and better myself so I can in turn be a better woman and mother. I’ve completed college, I’ve gotten a great job, I even have a library named after me in Zimbabwe. But, most importantly I am raising a kind, giving, and friendly child who will go on and help change her community. And so I will continue to light the way for her, for us, as long as I can because she deserves it. We deserve it.

Alexandra is a 20-something mom to a six year old daughter living outside the Boston area. Inspired by the desire to help others, Alexandra launched her new blog Alexandra Elizabeth in late spring 2012 to give a home to her thoughts on motherhood and life in general, and to connect with other mothers and woman.