I'm 28 and my son will be 10 this year. When I had him I was 18 with no health insurance and an ex boyfriend who had proven very quickly to be a deadbeat. I occasionally defended my decision to parent by attacking the other options afforded to women. It's hard to defend becoming a mom when it's not socially acceptable. Sometimes you take the easy way out by simply making everything else seem worse.
In the delivery room, one of my (former) friends pointed to me and said "She was supposed to be the smart one." I'd just graduated high school, and other people I knew would bring me stories about how this or that teacher was now "so disappointed." My own father told me that it shouldn't be too difficult to date with a baby, as guys would know I put out. I wasn't even thinking about dating.
I found girlmom after someone on a no-longer-existent iVillage messageboard posted a link. That was almost 8 years ago. When I got here, I was pent up with issues. I was still thinking there was no room for me, no room for my personality, inside my new life. I was consumed with the desire to prove to the world I was worthy.
One of the most important gifts the lovely members of GirlMom ever gave me was the knowledge I didn't have a damn thing to prove. The fact that I loved my son was all the proof I ever had to offer. Having that information, they gave me the strength and the words to fight for my rights and the rights of my child. It also gave me the freedom to admit when I needed help and understand that just like a married mom in her 30s, I was entitled to the right of not having to do everything by myself. Holding myself to a ridiculously higher standard because society pushed me to an even lower one did not benefit anyone, least of all my son.
GirlMom also helped me realize that I could still be me. My life didn't have to revolve 100% around parenting, and in the end my son would thank me for having a hobby once in a while! I could change and grow as a person, and that was still open to me. I was able to indulge in writing and art and social justice. Having a well-rounded life lead me to a much greater happiness than I could have found when all I was looking for was to prove everyone else wrong. The fact that I could still be myself loosened me up and made me a better mother.
Beyond his babyhood, the lessons I learned at GirlMom have carried me through his life so far. He's been diagnosed with Aspergers with mood disorders. Having a child in the autism spectrum means a fight, every day. You fight with the school board, you fight with the daycares, you fight, you fight, you fight. To make sure your child has the necessary resources to survive, become educated, and to not be treated as a pariah. GirlMom taught me how to fight. Knowing how to fight for my rights helped me fight for the rights of my child. Without my history with GirlMom, I wouldn't be the strong and aware person I am today.