Conversations with Teen Mums

In my first year of high school, my mum was going through a lost phase. And we wanted to live with our dad, because he finally decided he wanted to be there for us. He was good for a few months and then yeah, stuff just changes. He was hardly around and when he was he was angry. And he'd always pick on my little brothers and I'd get mad. Then he started becoming violent. I wanted to tell someone but I couldn’t. I had a feeling they’d take us away from my dad. I didn’t want us to be split up between families and stuff. I’d seen it happen before in our family. That’s why I didn’t like school. I didn’t want to cause trouble. I just didn’t want to be there.
When I moved back with my mum, she was living with my nana. She had a two-bedroom house and there was about 10 of us there. It was stuffy at first, but it was better than staying with my dad. That’s when I changed schools, and I told myself, ‘I’m going to be good. I’m going to actually try’. And I did that for a couple of months. But I didn’t like the vibe of the school. The students there, I felt like there were a lot of followers. I lost focus. I just wanted to get drunk all the time.
One morning one of the truancy officers and the school social worker knocked on my door. I was ‘getting ready for school’. My mum called out to me and I saw the lady and straight away I thought I was going to get in trouble, but I didn’t. They explained I was of legal age to finish. The truancy officer asked me if I want to keep attending school and I was like, ‘No way’. My mum tried to keep it in but she was angry. She gave me a lecture about, ‘What am I doing with my life?’, and I left home.
I wasn’t thinking about the future or anything. I was just thinking about tomorrow. Today and tomorrow. So like if I was getting paid my youth payment, I wouldn’t be thinking about the next how many days until next pay day, to stretch my money out. It would literally be, ‘Tomorrow, I’m gonna get pissed’. And I would. I was around a whole lot of friends. And because we were all getting similar types of money we were all getting paid on the same day. We’d all get wasted on one day and then maybe we’d get fed the next day, and then we’d be poor for the next couple or five days. So that became a routine. Until I got pregnant. And I stopped drinking all together.
My mum had me when she was 18. She was going to have an abortion, because she was scared. But once she told her family, because of all the support she had, she realised she didn’t need to take someone’s life away for a dumb reason. That’s practically why I didn’t have an abortion, because I was thinking, ‘Well, if my mum did that I wouldn’t be here. So why would I take all that away from someone else?’
I was like, ‘Mum, I have something to tell you’, and she was like, ‘Tell me, straight up’. I said, ‘I’m pregnant’. Well, she screamed, but with excitement, and then she started crying, and went through all these emotions. And I was like, ‘I thought I was supposed to be doing this?’ And she was like, ‘Oh, but I’m too young to be a grandmother!’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m too young to be a mum’.
Now education is very important to me. I want Devante to enjoy learning. A lot of people have noticed that he’s quite an intelligent child. I want to provide him with as much as I can to help nurture it. I want him to think, ‘Learning’s cool and learning’s fun’. When I grew up education wasn’t a big thing in my family. It was more, you know, ‘Work, work, work’. And then, if you didn’t make it into work then you kind of had the benefit as a back-up. And I don’t want that as an option for him.