September 10th, 2001
by Jamie Colboth
I am only 24, and I know the meaning of life. I have survived teenage pregnancy. I was the girl at graduation with the teeny bump in her belly, not even visible to the human eye. Well, at least not when I was dressed. My clothes got tight, donft get me wrong, but I was only 3 months along then and greatly in denial.
The morning after graduation I went to Panama Beach in Florida for the sacred Senior Trip. My three best friends went with me, and only one of them knew. But I wasnft concerned with telling anyone; in one week I would be going to college. Moving. I was the one pretending that this wouldnft change me. After all, I could be a freshman in college, work a part time job, and have a baby. I was invincible. And numb: very, very numb. gNo, I donft want to talk about it. Ifll just ignore it thank you. I went to the doctor, right on time, every time. I drank my milk and ate my broccoli. I put headphones on my belly and let my fetus enjoy he sounds of Deep Forest. I read gWhat to Expect. I went to Lamaze.
I still didnft think this would change me. I fully understood that I would now have a child to take care of: to love, and protect, to nurture and cherish. The point is- I still didnft think about how this could change me.
And suddenly, 5 years, 8 months, and 27 days later- I know the meaning of life.
My daughter was born during finals week of my first (undeclared) freshman semester. I was 320 miles away from home at a college with about 20,000 students. It only took two weeks into my second semester before I withdrew. My daughter was 6 weeks old. It would be two years before I re-enrolled in college.
For those two years I stayed down. Stagnate. I was as immobile as a broken down car. I had given up. I worked various jobs that I either hated, or knew had to be very temporary because of their nature. I was not proud. My daughter learned to walk, and talk. I learned to sit in silence. I think I always knew that the chair was too small for me, but I sat there anyway, waiting for someone to come along and make me move.
Then one day I woke up, rubbed my eyes and said, gI miss school. But, thinking that the feeling would be temporary, I just tried to ignore it. Then along came a magical stripper. No, not a fairy, I said stripper. Wefll call her Leanne. Leanne was the most magical thing that I could have encountered at that point.
Anyway, Leanne told me that I could do anything I wanted. Anything! She said that if going back to school would make me happy, then my daughter would happy too. Now what the fuck? (Yes, I will be using some language. This is the point when I really developed my potty mouth.) This should have been common sense, right? Okay, maybe not. So Ifll just explain this to you real simple-like.
You see this is when I realized that motherhood had changed me. I could not go to college as a freshman, but I could go as a freshman single-mom. I couldnft live in a dorm, but I could live in off campus family housing. I couldnft go out and party every weekend, but I could actually go to class, study and pass. I couldnft join a sorority, (not that I would have anyway) but I could find some kick-ass friends who would come hang out at my house and support me. And as a bonus, some of them had kids too. And thatfs what I did for the next 3 1/2 years. Somehow, with the help and support, I did it- I really did!
It was hard though. I wonft even scare you by going into how many times I was one breath from screaming out gI QUIT. But, the important part is that I didnft quit. (Thank you to everyone who wouldnft let me- and you know exactly who you are.) In those 3 1/2 years I not only earned my Bachelors Degree in Cinema (thatfs Film, kids) with a minor in English, but I had much more to show for it. Do you want proof? Well, donft say that you didnft fuckin ask. Here is a summary of highlights, in no particular order. I was a student-parent: potty-training, coffee drinking, lullaby singing, dish washing, novel reading, nose wiping, part-time working, story telling, paper typing, bubble blowing, film making, swing pushing, story writing, boo-boo kissing, cookie baking, clothes washing, class going, tear drying, speech giving, floor mopping, day-care paying, sleep lacking, canft quit smoking, opinion making, hard working, appointment going, power-nap taking, peanut butter and jelly making, mother fuckin mama! I thought I told you! I worked my ass off, all day, every day.
And suddenly, 3 1/2 years later I know the meaning of life.
I really tried to avoid walking across the stage at graduation. All I wanted was to pass my finals and be done with it, but Oh, NO! My Grandmother was not about to let me get off that easy. My parents passed away when I was a girl, my Grandmother raised me. She has always been my soul support; my rock. So for her, and only her, I agreed to walk, even though I KNEW it would be a colossal waste of time. And I have to say, that I could not have been prepared for how wrong I was.
I never expected the feeling that short trip across the stage gave me. I was so gratifying to see everyone that I love be so happy, so proud. My Grandmother beamed! My daughter (Now 5 years old) was so proud, she told everyone that would listen, My momma graduated from college! It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. So, thank you G.G.!
Then I moved again, somewhere around 3,000 miles away from my family, and most of my friends, to California. But wait, it gets worse. Not only did I move to the state that gis just gonna fall off in the ocean some day, I moved to Los Angeles, California: the city where, gTheyfll just shoot ya for your shoes. (No one really does that here; Ifm just illustrating my families exaggeration.)
And I love it here. I can literally feel the creativity pump through the air with the smog and the sunshine. LA, she is a beauty. But changing location wasnft enough. I had to change me. It didnft happen over night, girls, it started the moment my pee turned a white stick blue and hasnft stopped since. I had to learn to be ready to adapt at a moments notice, and I am now. Itfs made me a better person, a better mother. My eyes are open, as is my mind. Ifm in constant upheaval. And I wouldnft have it any other way. I am happy again. I am loud, never silent. Everyday I am thankful for all that day may bring. The day may make me cry, and curse, and want to give up, but I will always have things to be thankful for: my daughter, my family and friends, my life. I love. I am loved. I am in love.
And suddenly, after 3 months here, I know the meaning of life.
The meaning of life is our children. What we teach them will determine the meaning of our existence. If we teach them to respect others, they will. If we teach them to care about the earth, they will. If we teach them to love each other, they will love each other.
They will see past color, gender and class. They will take care of the world that we leave them and protect it with all their might. They will end poverty. They will stop injustice. They will declare world peace. And then, they will have children; children, who will be raised in a world where sadness can only be defined through the text in a history book. They will love us for what we taught their parents, and they will love each other because thatfs all they know. Love, that is all they will know.
I just want to see it, from above, or below, or where ever my soul takes me. I just want to see the smile that comes from love, the love that I helped to create.
That smile, my strong mama-sisters, that smile is the meaning of life.
Well, my life at least