Conversations with Teen Mums


Pregnant at 16


I’m not really struggling, I’m just not at a place I’d like to be. Like I’m not going to Te Puea Marae cause I’ve got nowhere to live and I’m like starving and I’ve got a billion kids but I’m not where I want to be.

I want to move to Papakura, where I was brought up, before my son starts school. I want to be settled in a place because we’ve moved so much since he was born. Where we’re staying at the moment, it is a temporary thing. Like it’s just a place to sleep.

My son doesn’t say ‘our house’ or ‘our home’. It’s always ‘nana’s house’ or ‘Honey’s house’ or ‘Taku Darling’s house’. If he’s asking people to stay I want him to say, ‘Oh, do you wanna come and stay at my house?’ not, ‘Do you want to come over to my aunty’s, we live in their sleepout’.

I want him to have his own room like he used to. Have his own space. We have our separate areas, but it’s still like one big area. At first, my son didn’t like it either. He was like, ‘Mummy, where’s the curtain? There’s no door in here. Mummy, I can’t close my door cause there’s no door’. Wherever we live I’m hoping for him it’s zoned for a good school.

I wanted to have finished Police College before Devante turned five so that I would be financially stable, so that I would have a better option of picking which school he was going to be at. But there was a bit of a hiccup this year. I was about to start the Police preparation course. I had my physical and theory tests booked in. Then the day before my test I got an e-mail saying that because of my driver’s licence demerit points I got on my learner’s, I had to wait until they got wiped off. I was kinda like, ‘Whaaat?’ It was kind of disheartening to hear. I was like, ‘What am I gonna do?’ I kind of gave up for a little while. But I still train and stuff as much as I can to be prepared for next year.

I want to work with the police because I’ve come from a background where I’ve seen a lot of not-so-good things. I can relate to people. If I was to go to a domestic violence case, I’d be able to actually understand them and help them move forward. I can be like, ‘I’ve been there, I’ve been through this, this can help’, type of perspective.

I want to work with youth cause that’s where they usually start making all their dumb decisions. It would be better for them to listen to somebody who’s from where they’re from, rather than an outsider who has absolutely no idea how things work. That’s what I want to do. Be a good influence.

My dad got in trouble for drugs. He ended up going to jail. I think I was about 9 or 10ish. I didn’t get told until I was older, a teenager.

We thought that dad was on this holiday camp. And we went to go and visit and we would stay in the hotels and stuff and then we’d go to this place where you have to go through the gates and you have to get checked and we thought it was pretty cool. That’s what we were told, ‘Dad’s on holiday’. And we were like, ‘Oh cool’.

We’d go for family days and it’s like they have a big-as massive shared lunch type of thing. When we started visiting was when dad was about to come out and I swear his cell - they moved from the cells to like little apartment-looking things - it was like better than our house! I reckon it was better to think that he was on holiday. Cause knowing us, you know kids say anything when they’re younger and I would’ve been at school, ‘Oh, where’s your dad?’ ‘He’s in jail’. Rather than, ‘He’s on holiday’.

When we lived with my dad, he was hardly around. He’d pay for everything but he wouldn’t be there. ‘Here’s some money. Make sure the house is clean. Feed the kids’. Then he’d chuck like 50, 80 bucks. At first we were like, ‘Whatever, it’s all good’. Then after that he was just never there.

When we moved back with my mum, she found a house for us. We all thought she was just joking because it was shit and she goes, ‘Oh, we’re going to be moving here’. And then she started crying and then I was just like, ‘Mum, this house is ugly. Why are we moving here? What are you doing?’ At the time I didn’t understand that we have to move here because money situation and all of that. But we ended up making it look really nice.

I don’t know what my mum was going through because she never let me really see it. We could have been struggling and I wouldn’t have known. As far as I was concerned I was clothed, fed, warm. I had heaps of friends. I was allowed freedom and stuff. I didn’t really get the full impact of the struggle. Now I am. But my son doesn’t know. As long as he doesn’t know it’s all right.

I learnt that money isn’t everything. You don’t need the flashest car. You just need your car to work. My mum taught me that. She always said, ‘Money isn’t everything. All you need is the essentials for your daily life. And if you can’t afford your wants, just pay for your needs’. Mum was broke but she did all she could for us. That’s why we didn’t know that we were broke. My dad had all the money in the world, but we didn’t get his time.

I was feeling busting to go to the toilet all the time. I asked my mum. She said, ‘You either have an infection of some sort or the other reason would be that you’re pregnant’. I was like, ‘No way. You don’t know’. And she was like, ‘Go to the doctor’s then’.

And I kept putting it off. I kept saying, ‘I’ll go tomorrow’. I was kind of in denial but it was making me not want to go to the doctor’s.

When I finally went, I went on my own. A few of my family just dropped me off there. When they left I realised I left my wallet in the car and I was like, ‘I’ll walk back. I’ll be sweet’. I was explaining my symptoms, and the lady said I had to do a pregnancy test. I was talking away saying, ‘And what medication will I be on?’ and the lady turned around and said, ‘I think you need to take a deep breath. Is there anyone here with you? There’s no easy way to say this but you’re pregnant’.

And then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’. I was shocked. And I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what I was feeling. A lot of emotions built up. I had no-one with me. It was hard to know what to think. And then she explained to me, ‘You know, there’s many options. Like there’s adoption, there’s abortion’. And straight away I stopped her and I was like, ‘No, I’m keeping my baby’. I wanted to cry but I didn’t.

My mum was happy when she found out I was pregnant. My mum was usually supportive no matter what I did, even if it was dumb decisions. They had warned us, ‘Use condoms, blah, blah, blah’, you know, all the talk that they give you. We didn’t listen, being young and thinking, ‘Ah nah, that’s not gonna happen’.

My mum had me when she was 18 and her mum was there for her so she was kind of doing the same thing. She was going to have an abortion when she was pregnant with me because she didn’t think that her family would approve, but when she told her mum she was like, ‘Do you want this baby?’ Because of that I would never even think about having an abortion because if my mum had, then I wouldn’t be here.

Knowing that my mum had me at a young age, realising all this stuff that my mum had done for us and knowing that she had done that as a young mum, I was like, ‘Well, if my mum can do it, I can do it too’.

It changed a lot of things. I had someone else to think about. Like I would usually drink during the week and in the weekend, and I just stopped it straight away. I had something to work towards and he made me want to do stuff for the future. I had never thought about the future, ever. But when I found out I was pregnant I started thinking about when I’m older and moving into a house, and buying my own house and owning a car. I started thinking way ahead and I was like, ‘Oh, do I want him to go to daycare? Am I going to be working, schooling, stuff like that’. And because of that it just changed how I live.

I don’t really feel like I had to grow up fast though. Because my parents were going through stuff I already had a lot of responsibility at a young age. They would never say, ‘Oh, you have to watch your siblings’, but while they were arguing or absent I was the one who was there. I’d make them the dinner and, you know, stuff like that. I’d put them to bed and read them a story, you know, sing with them. It was just that since I had a baby, now you belong to me. You’re not my sibling. I can’t leave you behind and go hang out with my friends. You’re mine, you’re my responsibility.

But when Devante was little, I just always felt lonely and I didn’t like it. Everyone was at work or school. I was at home by myself and I felt useless because it would be 12 o’clock and I would still be in my pyjamas. Or everyone would get back home and I would have piles of washing and I would have just woken up. I feel tragic, I’ve got my pyjamas on, I’ve got washing to do, I’ve got all this cleaning to do and I haven’t eaten. It used to frustrate me because I used to be one of those people that was always doing something.

And then I came to the teen parent unit and it was so much easier. Having something to do besides just doing baby. Being able to keep studying because I felt like a dumb-ass because I had wasted all those opportunities and then this was like my chance to redeem myself.

I broke up with baby’s dad because of too many personal problems, family issues. For the first few weeks I was missing him but a lot of stress was taken from me, and I knew that if it was easier for me, then it’s going to be easier for me to do baby. And if baby’s alright, then I’m alright.

If it wasn’t for my son, I’d probably still have no goals or ambition. I’d be on the benefit. I’m on a benefit now but it’s a different situation. I’m only on it because I’m waiting to get off. Before I would have been on the benefit waiting for my money to come each week cause I want to get drunk during the week. I would probably be around the same type of people I used to hang around with back then. And I’d be going nowhere.

In five years, I’ll be working. Hopefully I will be in the police force. Sorry, I will. Hopefully studying to get my law degree. I wanna do that while I’m working. I want to have put a deposit down on a house and saving for my son’s college.

My son will be doing self-defense as well as rugby and music. Hopefully he’s in a school that I want him to be at, because I’ll be able to choose because I’ll have money.

I want my son to be confident. I want him to be understanding and compassionate about other people. Maybe if we do get to that point in life where we have more than he needs, he will still understand that there are other people that walk different paths. They might not have the same path, but it’s worth the same.

My favourite thing is when I teach my son something and he shows me that he can do it on his own. Cause then it means I actually taught him, like, ‘You can do that cause of me’. It also shows that he pays attention to me, he listens to me and he actually cares about that time.

I just want my son to be good at everything so that he’s able to choose what he likes best and he can pick what he wants to do. But just be a good boy. Be a good, intelligent, well-rounded person that can look after me when he gets money. And give me some grandchildren. Nothing big.