By La’Wanda McAllister
Juggling the demands of everyday life and the additional demands of a young child is difficult for parents of all ages, but teen moms face a unique and daunting set of challenges.
Eighteen-year-old Neyisha Kemisha Calder, a young mother of a one-month-old girl, has had her fair share of challenges, especially when she had a name to uphold.
This teen who had recently completed her CSEC examination at the Golden Grove Secondary School, which is located on East Coast Demerara (ECD), had scored a whopping eight subjects at the CSEC examination and was named valedictorian when she found out that she was with child.
Calder who is from a strong Christian family background said she was devastated when she learnt that she was pregnant, and was more focused on how she would’ve been able to embark on a journey as a teen mother.
“Seeing the two stripes on that pregnancy test for me was devastating, and a lot of questions came to mind like how am I going to provide for my child, am I prepared mentally for this child, am I going to set the right example for my child to follow. I had a lot of things to accomplish and a child would be a setback for me. I even knew my family would’ve been disappointed in me …”, she said.
The teen mom said even through her doubts it was the support from her family, now fiancé and close friends who helped her to remain positive.
“As the days went by, I was constantly encouraged…that made me gain confidence in myself”, she said.
During the course of her pregnancy, Calder said pressure began raining from all angles, since everyone looked up to her.
“Criticism. I got it from people in the community, church, they all criticized me for being a mother at such a young age. But, despite what they said, it didn’t change the fact that I was going to be a mother, it didn’t break me…”.
After giving birth to her daughter in March, Calder said she convinced herself that she needed to get her life back together, and fight to give her daughter every opportunity she could not have.
A month after giving birth, the teenager managed to secure a spot at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), where she is now majoring in Mathematics, and minoring in Agriculture Science.
She said her main challenge now is maintaining her stability in her finances and personal life.
“Finances is needed to look after my baby, and myself and I have to leave some for emergencies; but I find that I get caught up over spending and having to go into other finances that was supposed to look after something else … As it comes to my personal life, it is a little challenging, but I try to remain focused and stable”, she explained.
In encouraging teen mothers, Calder said: “Despite at whatever age you found out you’re pregnant, never let abortion be an option. Pregnancy itself is a challenge but it gets easy. Go through with your pregnancy and get your life back together when you are finish. Make plans for your life during the pregnancy because if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be stuck at one place”.
“Work towards it, and provide for your child…and remember God sees and he knows everything and he said in his word ask and it shall be given unto, so whenever you’re going through your storm, whether it be the pregnancy or the challenge of rebuilding your life, just ask of him, and he will show up for you”. (This article was first published in the Guyana Times)