Last week was my eldest daughters last day of high school. Thirteen years of schooling over. This past Monday we attended her graduation. The time has gone so fast. She has grown in to an amazing, beautiful young woman. I watched her walk proudly across the stage and accept her Certificate and her Achievement Award for Math and join her class of 2016 graduates. Tears welled in my eyes from the rush of love and pride I felt. This season of her life is over and now she will move in to adulthood. Wow.
My daughter’s graduation has reminded me of how eighteen years ago I was finishing up thirteen years of school. It doesn’t seem long ago, and yet it does. Eighteen years ago I was waddling up on to the stage to graduate high school while nine months pregnant.
My last year at school was unlike most peoples. A few weeks in to Year 12 I found out that I was pregnant. A shock and completely unplanned but from the beginning I knew that I would continue with the pregnancy. I did the sensible thing and looked at all my options but I always knew what my decision would be.
I was told initially by mum (when she was still in shock about my news) and by my English teacher to leave school and get a job until the baby was born. I have to say I never really contemplated that as a possibility. Why would I do that? I knew that if I wanted to give my baby the best chance in life, and if I could physically do it, I needed to stay at school. So I stayed.
I dropped a class (Math… because my brain did not work mathematically anymore once I was pregnant!) and I worked super hard during class time to complete my work. I completed my homework during my lunchtimes because I was too tired after school. I was lucky that I had an amazing group of friends who supported me during this time.
I worked during school holidays at Myer to complete the required hours for my Certificate II in Retail Operations that I was completing in conjunction with my VCE. I continued to work a few shifts a week at McDonalds every week. I worked bloody hard that year to set myself up to be able to give my daughter and myself the best future I could.
I was very, very lucky that I had the support of my parents during this year, and after my daughter’s birth. Without their support it would have been very difficult to have done all that I did that year. Oh yeah, did I also mention that my parents separated two months before I gave birth and we moved house. It was a crazy year!
I barely took a day off school that year and was at school right up until the last day of classes. The following day, a Saturday, I was induced and after two days of labour I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl on the Monday evening. She was truly amazing.
On the Wednesday, the day my fellow class mates were at school celebrating the end of high school with fun and pranks, I took my baby girl home to begin our new life together. And study. My first exam was on the Friday, 4 days after I gave birth. Yep, I sat my English exam while my little baby was downstairs crying. It was hard. But I had complete faith in myself that I could do hard things. I felt this new strength in myself from the time I learnt that I was pregnant. For me, motherhood showed me how strong and resilient I was. It showed me that I could get through hard times and it gave me the motivation to get through the hard and challenging times that inevitably came along.
Watching my daughter graduate on Monday I felt such immense pride in her. And in myself. I don’t often give myself credit but I am so proud of myself for bringing her in to the world, for graduating high school when many thought I couldn’t, for being a single mother for many years, and for raising such an amazing daughter.