Written by Tara Ashcraft
From pregnancy to birth to watching them grow, motherhood is an amazing adventure that many women share with the support of the father. But what about the many women who face all the ups and downs of motherhood alone? In this new 8-part series, blogger Tara Ashcroft reflects on shame, confidence, strength, and learning through the lens of a pregnant college student and young, single mother.
Read Part One: I see you
Through the window of my classroom, I see you, a 19 year old freshman carrying a computer (the desk-top kind in that awful taupe color) across the university campus while using your pregnant belly as a shelf to assist the schlepping of that sucker to the car. I see you slowly waddle the half mile from the science building to your car, tears of shame rolling down your puffy cheeks. Go ahead and cry, mama. You’re doing hard things. But don’t let those tears be of shame. You are the bravest one. I envy your strength. You are beautifully brave.
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I see you doing the best you can to create the life you want for you and your bitty bun in the oven. You’re not worried about parties or sororities or dating or clothes. Well, you’re kind of worried about clothes. Yours are awfully tight and you need them to last another four weeks or so. You’ve got hard things to do. You’ve got a degree to earn, a job to get, and a little tiny person to grow. That little tiny person is looking to you for everything that he will ever need. That’s a lot, mama. You’re doing it. Look at you!
You’re a smart girl. I can tell. Smart is your calling card - your identity. I know you don’t feel smart anymore. Maybe you even feel plain ol’ stupid. Don’t. Head up, mama. While you are grappling with outfitting a nursery, buying diapers, arranging for childcare, and paying rent; you also happen to be failing Deductive Logic of all the forsaken things on this Earth. Unfortunately you need Deductive Logic to earn said degree. Said degree gets you the job you need. The job you need gets you the diapers for that precious bundle. You can do this. Flex your brave heart. That’s it!
Your professor loaned you his computer which had on its hard drive some sort of ancient logic program that is supposed to help you get back on track. Sigh. While I seriously doubt the success of this intervention, I see you take the computer with your head and eyes cast down. I see your shame. Look up! Step by step. Do it your way. The best way you know how. You’re doing it with fear in your heart, but you are doing it anyway. That’s bravery. That’s the lesson. It isn’t about being fearless. It’s about doing it anyways, and that you are!
I see you learning about what matters most. You’re learning fast. You are forever changed. What matters to you and what matters to your friends won’t really align for another decade or so. That’s okay. You have a wisdom that some will forever seek. You may not master whatever it takes to get an elusive “A” in Deductive Logic, but you are learning that it actually doesn’t really matter.
The strength and wisdom and bravery you develop from being a young mother will carry you through the most difficult, raw, come undone, and totally off the rails experiences of your life. That giant belly of energy and life and love is not only a shelf for that damn computer, but a source of power and belief in your ability to love, overcome, and never give up. It fuels your belief that your life is more than your own. It is a shared experience of connection and purpose, intention and grace.
You will get your first and only D in Deductive Logic. So be it. You’ll also have a baby. Keep on, mama. Keep on.
Tara Cargle Ashcraft, MSEC is a change coach inspired by her professional and personal experiences which inform her approach to helping women embrace who they are now and empower them to create the lives they desire for the future. She has over ten years of experience in organizational learning and development. She’s a mom of four completely different kids and one unpredictable cat. She’s equal parts psychology, pom-poms, pixie dust, and pinot. You can find Tara online at: