I am Jasmine, a YOUNG MOM and this is my story.
Jasmine V. is 24 years old. She lives in Wayne County with her partner Cee* and their son Skylar (2 years old).
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator (November 2016).
*Name changed for confidentiality.
I’ve always been very independent from the time I was young and growing up in Kinston. I’ve been the one (along with my stepfather) taking care of my siblings and our household. I was doing everything from cooking, cleaning, to getting them ready for their baths. I have never felt like I received the mothering and nurturing support I needed from my own mother. When I was young, my mother was out and about, living her life and going to BINGO (her second home.) I really felt like I didn’t have a childhood of my own. I’ve blocked most of it out, but I remember my siblings and me going to stay with other people and not seeing my mom for long stretches of time.
I know that there are some issues I have about my childhood. I’ve tried to talk to my mother about these issues to which she says “it’s not my fault, it’s y’alls fault.” She makes me feel like I’m guilty for my childhood and that makes me feel like there’s no point in talking about it with her. I know I will probably have to get some counseling because I don’t want these issues to affect me in the future.
As you can imagine, I was unable to rely on my mother when Skylar was a newborn and I felt like I needed some time for myself. My support system then (three years ago) was my partner, Cee*, who has been there every step of the way – working to support our household while I stayed at home with Skylar. During Skylar’s first six months, I was really battling with the “Baby Blues.” I felt like I was in a corner alone, with this new baby. I was with him 24/7 with no break and no sense of support from my family (mother, father, step-father or siblings). Even though Cee was there for us, she was working all of the time, which basically left me feeling as if I were in this by myself.
During this time, some of the thoughts and feelings I had made me feel overwhelmed. I worried about having to be the primary responsible adult for a child. I was questioning “can I really take care of a child, my child, by myself?” I was processing all of the “what ifs?” What if Cee and I break up? Would I be able to raise Skylar alone? What if I couldn’t raise him alone? I knew that I would have to take care of this child all by myself. With all these thoughts circling in my head, I would then look at Skylar and think I have no choice but to do this.
What I knew for sure was that I wanted my child to be able to depend on me. Unlike my childhood, I didn’t want him to wake up one morning without the lights on, without food in the refrigerator, or without the heat on. Unlike my childhood, I want my child to know that he comes before ANYBODY. I wanted to be a better mom to him than my mom was to me.
A Welcomed Introduction to Young Families Connect
About two years ago, Cee, Skylar and I moved to Wayne County from Kinston, because Cee got a job based in Goldsboro. Skylar was a little over a month old at this time. During this time, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish – like going back to school and getting a job. However, the school I wanted to go to wouldn’t accept my credits from the school I previously attended. Plus, I just couldn’t land a job. I had a sense of worthlessness. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to our household.
I hated that I was so dependent on Cee and I hated that I had gotten to the point where I hoped for support from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to buy food for our household with an EBT card. Turns out DSS wasn’t able to provide any assistance. They told me they weren’t able to help unless I was working or going to school. This wasn’t who I am. I had always been an independent, self-supporting person. With all of these thoughts and feelings, I had a total sense of worthlessness. As a new overwhelmed parent, I really just felt completely cornered and overwhelmed. I just needed a way out.
One day, while attending a child care appointment at Wayne County Social Services, a security guard stopped me. He asked me if I knew about the Young Families Connect program. As it turns out, the security guard stopping me was exactly what I needed. So, the next day, I called Ms. Diana. During my first conversation with Ms. Diana, she asked me if I wanted to join the Young Families Connect program. I wanted to be a part of the program because Ms. Diana and I just clicked. I don’t just see her as a case manager or social worker but like a friend. She’s someone I look up to. Young Families Connect is great support especially when you don’t have family. You can’t just have one person in your support circle, you need a group of people.
Sister, Mama, Aunty, Friend- A New Support System
Ms. Diana told all of us in the program that we can call her at any time, no matter what. In my experience Ms. Diana has always there for me, no matter the time of day. A lot of people don’t have that type of person in their life but she is that person for me. She’s a sister, mama, aunty and friend. I look up to her. I feel comfortable contacting her whenever I need to talk. She’s like that mama figure that I don’t really have. I can talk to her about anything on my mind. I have shared with her some of the things I have not been able to previously share with anyone else. I mean, if it wasn’t for Ms. Diana, I think I would have been really depressed. She’s been there for me, to listen to what’s been going on in my life.
Ms. Diana keeps it totally real with me. She’s like “if you have done it, it’s okay, I’ve probably done it too and more than once!” She makes me feel like it’s okay if I’ve had a hiccup in life, or am going through some difficulties, because she helps me see there’s always a way to move beyond that pitfall. Because of Ms. Diana I no longer have doubts about my ability to parent Skylar or my worth. I no longer allow my fears and frustrations from my childhood to consume me, even though I still want to resolve these issues.
I am most grateful for Ms. Diana and the other participants in the program. Being in Young Families Connect (YFC) allows me to have a place for Skylar and me to come and connect with other young families like ours. I was able to participate in the parenting class, and learn new cooking skills and ways to be keep my household safe and healthy. Since being in YFC, I have been able to get job training, land an interview and get a new job, thank the Lord! When I think of my life before YFC and since YFC I see a great change in my support system. I have gotten everything out of YFC that any participant can gain – friendship, support, a loving and nurturing community, and new skills to better parent my son and be the best Jasmine I can be. Even though my time as a participant is almost up (I’m graduating soon) I will still come back to participate on the YFC Community Advisory Council and mentor other young moms as much as I can. I can use my experience as an inspiration to them.