Originally published in the New Bedford Standard-Times.
By Malika Magloire, Healthy Families participant
Becoming a new mom is hard. Becoming a new mom, at age 19, in the middle of a pandemic while trying to finish school and supporting my baby, well, that felt impossible.
I could never have imagined that I would become a mom so young, but life doesn’t always go according to plan. I had to learn how to pivot so that I could give my daughter the life she deserves without losing touch with myself and my goals.
I had no idea how I was going to do it all. I had to show the world that I could be a mom, a student, and a wife. I was 19 years old and felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
Luckily, I was introduced to the Children’s Trust Healthy Families program, which pairs first-time moms and dads with home visitors who help you learn how to be a parent. But my home visitor was so much more than that. Yes, she helped me learn how to take care of my baby, but it was so much more than teaching me new skills. She became part of our family.
When the pandemic hit, I experienced a very tough time financially, mentally, and emotionally. My home visitor was my support system when I didn’t have anywhere to turn. She understood me and respected me. She showed me how to nurture and support my daughter by nurturing and supporting myself.
I was born in Haiti and my cultural background is important to me and to my family. My home visitor is from Cape Verde, so we shared that cultural bond. Having a baby so young is not widely accepted in my culture. I felt like a failure. She understood where that feeling came from but also helped me see – and prove – that I wasn’t.
She was so supportive of my goals and my dreams, encouraging me to finish school and to raise my daughter with love and respect. When my husband and I split up for a short time, she checked up on me every day and continued to encourage and support me. I don’t know how I would have made it through that without her.
She helped us learn how to co-parent and build a happy home for our daughter. She also taught us why it is so important that we take care of ourselves, our mental health, and our relationship so that we are better able to take care of our daughter.
I honestly don’t think I would have stayed in school without her support and I would have lived my life wondering “what if” instead of giving my daughter a role model who accomplishes her dreams despite challenges. The way that she supported me showed me how to be a rock for my daughter, how to love her and nurture her and inspire her, even in the toughest moments.
Now, 1 year and 2 months after giving birth and making it through one of the toughest years of my life, I have a gorgeous, smart, and independent little girl. She started walking at 9 months old, insists on feeding herself, and spreads positive, happy energy throughout our home.
And, I am accomplishing my dreams. I am finishing my last year of college and will graduate soon with a degree in Criminal Justice.
What I’ve learned from this experience is that life can throw lots of twists and turns your way but there is nothing you can’t tackle when you have people in your life that you can depend on. And my daughter will always have that. I am committed to being that for her.