The term “Baby Mama” is the popular description unwed mothers seem to be involuntarily labeled with. These women are taking a stand and exposing the truths of being a mother and a college student; giving clarification to the stereotypical term. They are showing the world that though they are mothers, individuality is existent and that they are more than just a “Baby Mama.”
While many people may view the name in a negative way or just a term for a woman with a child, there are many mothers who take it as a personal attack on their character.
“When I hear the term ‘Baby Mama’ I cringe,”said former TJC student Ashton Givens. “It makes me feel like I am not wife material. I’m just someone who has a baby. There is much more to it than that. When I found out that I was pregnant, I became really sick and had to move back home. It was hard leaving behind my friends that I was so close to. Now that my baby is born, it is so hard and expensive. I never thought it would be this hard, but as a mother I have to set an example for my son and continue to get my education.”
Givens is now back home in Denton, juggling school, work and most of all raising her child.
Becoming pregnant during college may be the reason a lot of young women move back home. In 21-year-old Jasmine Allen’s case, becoming pregnant is what motivated her to attend college.
“It’s pretty hard because she was a month old when I went back to school,” said Allen.
As she entertained her baby girl, Aaliyah (who Allen calls “Liyah”), by teaching her to say
“hi” and “bye bye,” Allen began to explain the challenges of being a mother in college.
“It’s pretty stressful. My baby is teething, so I could be up at 3 in the morning. I have class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I wake up around 6 a.m. and I have class from 8 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. Right after that, I do some homework and then go straight home to Liyah. My mom watches her when I’m at school which is a big help, considering that Liyah’s father is not in her life. She is an 11-month-old who is discovering body parts right now, which means she pokes me in my eye a lot when I’m trying to study. It turns into a load after a while,” said Allen.
Allen paused and briefly granted her full attention to Aaliyah; giggled, kissed her daughter on the forehead and began to expose more truths of being a mother.
“A lot is different, take dating for instance. There are a lot of men that are skeptical about dating women with babies. I mean, you have to push dates off because the baby comes first. There is just so much more for the guy to consider because most of all he has to be willing to accept your child. As for friends, I can’t just get up and go. I have to make sure that Aaliyah is taken care of and that there is a babysitter available. Everything revolves around Aaliyah,” said Allen as she slightly chuckled.
Allen gazed at her daughter dressed in dark blue jeans, white leather shoes, a white under shirt and a bright purple sweater as she clapped and bounced her small pony tails.
Aaliyah tugged to be let down in order to explore the grounds of TJC, more like crawl the grounds.
“I can’t give my baby everything financially right now and I would like to. She is my motivation to continue my education so that I can. Before I got pregnant I kept putting school off because I felt like I didn’t have a reason to go, now that I have her…she helped me get on track. People don’t understand the realness of being a mother and in college; they just judge you as if you’re just a wild girl that ended up pregnant.
Which is why I don’t agree with the term ‘Baby Mama.’ When I hear that term, I feel like they are talking about a woman who has nothing going for herself. I’m a mother, a friend, a lover, a hard worker. I’m more than just a baby mama.”
While some women may feel that the term ‘Baby Mama’ is an attack on their character as a mother, others may see the term as just a phrase that doesn’t interfere with what type of mother they are, such as 20-year-old Lindsey Sanders, a TJC nursing major.
“First thing that comes to mind when I hear ‘Baby Mama’ is ghetto,” said Sanders. “I don’t mind it because everyone calls me that and it’s really just slang for a woman who has a child. I live in a small town so I’m sure people cast judgment and give me funny looks. I can’t even go to a club without someone saying ‘Oh where’s her baby at? She ain’t taking care of her baby.’Those people don’t know that when I do get the chance to go out, it’s probably because I ain’t been out in months. My friends without kids can just get up and go; I can’t do that. People have no idea. To most people my age, school is their number one thing, they can say ‘I’m going to go home and write my paper,’ while I’m like ‘Okay
I’m going to go home and tend to Bella and when she is asleep I will write my paper.’ Most people I know my age are like ‘Oh I didn’t go to class, I had a hangover.’ I’m like, ‘Oh I didn’t go to class because Bella was up sick all night.’ I have to put so much aside, was damned hard just for this interview,” said Sanders.
The clanging sound of dishes being cleaned rang from Sand- ers’ kitchen. The house was rather quiet because Sanders’ father took Bella for a while, which didn’t mean Sanders got a break. Af- ter the dishes were cleaned, Sanders went back to her homework.
“I cried for the first six months when I found out I was pregnant, didn’t know how in the hell I was going to do it. Never once thought about abortion though. I’m the one that laid up and got pregnant. It’s not her fault, why take her life,” said Sand- ers. “Of course I wish I could have waited until I finished school and was married. No regrets though. Her father and grandpar- ents are very helpful and supportive, thank God. I get up at 5 a.m., get Bella dressed, her things together, get myself dressed, take Bella to the babysitter and be in Tyler for class by 8 a.m. I don’t give up because it’s not about me anymore,” Sanders said, then paused and smiled. “It’s about Bella. I want Bella to be dedicated and be in ganizations, more than sports. I took all of that as a joke in high school I have to be the example for her now. When I look at Bella I see perfection. She’s mine and nobody could ever take her away from me. She’ll always love me and I’ll always love her. Nobody better not hurt my baby girl. She’s perfect.”
The stress load of being a mother in college may some- times seem as if there is only darkness and no light at the end of the tunnel. Forty-seven-year-old TJC graduate Latrice Baker expresses her feelings toward the term “Baby Mama” and is liv- ing proof that a woman can succeed while being a mother in college.
“To me, when they say baby mama stuff, they voice this more toward one group of women, which is black women. The term is basically saying that all black women are good for laying on our backs and being ignorant,” said Baker. “I had my first son at a young age and I was single and I guess that’s what I would have been called. Being a mother in college is more difficult than most people even care to know. I did it all. I worked full time, went to school full time and most of all was a mother full time. I eventually graduated from TJC with an associates in Human Services and moved on to UTA to obtain my bachelors. My kids were older when I decided to go back to school which helped out a lot,” said Baker. ” I feel for young mothers who have young infants and trying to go to school I know a lot of them feel like giving up. I pray that they tough it out and look beyond today. I always tell young people to look at yourself and ask what kind of future you want to provide for you and your child. I hope that these young women with children are an example to young women in college without children. I hope the example shows that it is best to wait until you are done with college to have children, so while in college you can focus on your goals, your dreams and yourself.”