Becoming a statistic. Do you let life happen to you?

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If any of you know me, you know that I am not in any way a mathematician (I sat CXC Mathematics three times, and I am yet to receive the pass that I desire), but I became very aware of becoming a statistic when I was pregnant, and part of the stigma that went along with it.

Being pregnant with my first child, at the age of 17, I went to the Port of Spain General Hospital to receive medical attention.

Little did I know that scrutiny came hand-in-hand with medical attention from the nurse on the morning shift. She looked at me and said, “Why black people children does only come in here with big belly while the East Indian children going an get dey drivers license?”

I just watched her and smiled. One thing that my mother taught me was to respect the elderly because the things that were running through my mind to tell her were not very pleasant.

On the morning I gave birth to my daughter, the cleaner came in my room. She asked what I had, and I told her a girl. She asked me what I wanted to be; I said a teacher. She said to go ahead and fulfil my dream despite what any one tells me. Hmmm… words from a cleaner that stuck with me for life.

So there I was with only five O’ Level passes and a baby.

 

‘So there I was with only five O’ Level passes and a baby’

 

I made it my business to pursue my education despite the negative input that was being dumped in my life at the time. My dream of becoming a teacher was not to be lost because of one obstacle that was in my way.

People soon started to ask the question, “So when are you getting married?”

People have this assumption that because you have a child with someone that you now need to marry them. I told them because I have a child that didn’t mean that I wanted to get married. The father and I decided two years later to walk down the aisle. That was a whole other story by itself.

Being married you would think that it was okay to have more children. I thought wrong.  First to begin, on telling my husband that I was pregnant again he wasn’t too impressed and asked me to have an abortion. I blatantly told him we are now married, and we should welcome the child as a new part of the family.

Things sort of spiralled in our marriage from that day on and sad to say yes, we became one of the statistics of divorces. I do not think that our “failed” marriage had to do with how young we were, but at the rate at which we each grew personally.

Upon deciding that I wanted a divorce I understood what that meant for me financially, paying the lawyer, and now having to pay a rent on my own (because the ridiculous amount of money that the court gives you doesn’t even make a dent) and being able to supply the needs of the children.

The children being just two and six years old, at the time, were torn between being loyal to both parents. My daughter, being the older one, assumed an adult role, which she had no right to take up. But that is how she dealt with the circumstances.

There were nights when they looked out the window and cried for their father and asked me when he was coming to see them. Those days were heart-wrenching when I looked at their tear-streaked faces.

 

‘Those days were heart wrenching’

 

I knew that I would never be able to fulfil that father role for them, but I found some men in my life who took it upon themselves to see my kids as their own, and to them I am grateful.

Single parenting is hard, but I refused to let my children grow up without at least one stable parent that they can depend on. I became a sales representative, as a side job to make some extra money, but that did not work out too well.

To keep my sanity and my children’s intact I joined a non-governmental organisation – the Trinidad Youth Council. This became my comfort zone and my family. It was a place for me to express myself freely, and my children were able to socialize instead of leaving them home alone to engage in mischief. I have heard so many horror stories of children falling through the cracks because of their parents’ mistakes, and failure is not an option when it comes to the welfare of my children.

Based on my life I must say yes I was a statistic on many occasions, some of my own free will, while others just fell into my lap. However, I refused to allow my bad experiences to keep my head from going under, and, my family and friends – being a very strong support system – threw me life jackets and ropes to hold on to.

Would I ever want to change what has happened to me? Not at all.

Throughout all my experiences I have learned something valuable, and that has made me into the ambitious, strong, independent woman that I am today.

I am currently pursuing my Bachelors of Education in Education Guidance and Counselling. I have my own company, and I am a Special Education teacher.

You can either allow your challenges in life to make you or break you. Guess which one I chose :).

 

Author bio: Fayola Vidale is a Special Education teacher, and Founder of Spiral – We put a twist on beauty, which helps young women to promote and sell products they make. She also hopes to host workshops aimed at empowering women.

 

 

11 Comments

  1. Aisha De Bique

    July 12, 2010 at 2:14 am

    I enjoyed reading this.I respect your honesty.You truly used the trials in your life to motivate you.I also respect that you recognize the immeasurable value of those who assisted you along the way.All the best to you.

  2. karel

    July 12, 2010 at 2:16 am

    I’m a big proponent of trying to maintain control of some of the things that happen to you in life. Invariably, there are some things we can’t control, but sometimes there are some things we can avoid.

    And even if things happen in life, you can still move ahead despite the odds.

    Fay, your story is very inspiring, and it shows the determination and strong spirit you have.

  3. Wendy Spring

    July 12, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Life can really throw us some curved balls sometimes, but what you do with those curve balls is what will determine whether you fail or suceed. you sure used yours to your advantage. keep going on.

  4. Nicole

    July 13, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Wow this brought tears to my eyes. Having been raised by a single mother myself, I relate to this story. The trials of a single mother in Trinidad and Tobago can never be appreciated until/unless you’ve experienced it firsthand.

    Blessings Fayola.

  5. mrichards

    July 13, 2010 at 7:37 am

    It was a wonderful article and I am proud of you. You have past all the tests so far and now you are at a point where you are ready for what the future brings. Keep it up and continue to make your children and your future husband proud. :)

  6. Yanyan

    July 14, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Hi there, your complete vulnerability which allowed your honesty and innocence pervades in this piece. I’m glad you recognised where and how you’ve grown through your adversities. People will always talk; talk because to motivate others, is not the foremost thing on their minds.

    Blessings to you and your family and stay encouraged!

  7. Quilin Achat

    qachat

    July 20, 2010 at 1:58 am

    what a success story, i’m sure your kids are proud of their mama :)

  8. gina

    August 2, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Thank you Fayola for reminding us that in life we still have choice regardless of what our circumstances may be. I can tell you are a fighter. When kids are brought into the scenario you really do find strength you never knew you possessed. The sacrifice you made to overcome your trial is what I admire most. I pray you keep pushing on…Thanks for telling this story. I was inspired.

    God’s peace and strength,
    Gina

  9. fvidale

    August 2, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Thank you for the comments. I hope that I will continue to inspire you as you inspire me

  10. Solange

    September 27, 2010 at 6:49 am

    I want to thank you for your inspiration right now I tooo am on the verge of filing for divorce and I dont know which way to turn. Your story gives me some hope

  11. Deva

    December 23, 2010 at 2:11 am

    hey so empowering, i have known females that became pregnant at young ages and think that was the end of their lives and i always said to them that now is the time that they work hard because they know have someone to rely on them, so God’s grace to you and yours and you really inspired me because i was pregnant myself at the age of 19 but i lost the child and i was being discriminated as though the child came into this world, but my grandmother always said that when your neighbour house on fire wet yours, so people need to stop judging because we never know what it feels like until it could comes home to meet us.

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