The below essay was written by Gabrielle B., 15, from Texas. She was awarded Third Prize in the Stay Teen Project Future Essay Contest.
My mother sacrificed a lot for me more than I could realize at eight years old. Growing up I thought my mom was super woman, always saving the day. She worked two jobs—one as a nurse’s aide at a retirement home and one part time, taking orders at a local McDonald's. Her dream however, from a young age was to be a surgeon. Her plan was to go to medical school after her high school graduation, obtain residency in a large city like Seattle or Chicago, then maybe when she turned thirty and was married, have a child. My mom’s dreams were cut short like a long knife slicing a thin cord. I was that knife. My unexpected arrival when my mom was only seventeen destroyed every vision she had. Instead of surgeries and victims of car wrecks it was replaced with Band-Aids and scraped knees.
At thirteen I didn’t understand. I had to do a project in school for English where I had to write an essay and interview a person who inspired me. JK Rowling was in England and I’m sure Emma Watson was busy that week, so I sat down with my mom after she came home from work and we shared a pepperoni pizza. I asked her about what she wanted to be and she told me. Looking back I should have noticed the absence of her looking me in the eyes. When I asked why she had to give her dreams up. She said, “Gabby, you are the reason. I had you and you were so much more important.”
About a year later she told me the story. My mom got pregnant at seventeen during her senior year. At first she was angry; the idea of her dreams collapsing because of one tiny mistake. Then she told me, when she went to the doctors and they showed her the image of me swimming around in her belly, she knew it was no mistake at all. Her dreams were put on hold so she could raise me. A child raising a child.
She did not go to medical school or become a resident as a prestigious hospital. My father never left my mother. He did not go to business school but used his college fund to buy things for me like my crib and the diapers I needed. Now, my mom takes night classes at a local college. She comes home tired. My dad likes photography now. It annoys me how he takes pictures of me when I’m not looking. Secretly, I enjoy it. I am lucky to have the parents I do. Parents who root for me and want me to succeed like they wished they did.
I realized for me to accomplish my dreams of becoming an author and going to a university, I have to remain focused. I will stay a teen. I will go to college and make my parents proud of me. I will have kids maybe when I’m thirty.
I love my mom. She’s my hero. But I am fifteen and I do not want to be a mom.