One of my favorite parts of my work is the incredible people I get to meet. A few years ago I was privileged to meet a young student, Veronika, who radiated a profound joy and peace as a single mother in university. Her life has been no bed of roses, but she is living proof that when we are other focused, when we live love, we find lasting happiness. I asked her if I could interview her and she agreed. As I read her answers below, I got goose bumps at the depth of this young woman's insight. Consider what she wrote me about the photo of her baby Amelia included in this post:
“The picture I have enclosed of Amelia and I does not fully show my face but it's an important picture to me. Amelia became very ill with respiratory problems around seven months which meant a lot of nights of dealing with fevers, congestion, pain control and a sad little baby who kept waking up due to having trouble breathing in her sleep. I took this picture one night when I decided to let her sleep on my chest instead of in the crib and she slept throughout the night. I did that every night until she was better. To me, it represents what we do as mothers, that we stop looking at ourselves as individuals with needs and we begin to look at how we can serve another and therefore love another, and with that comes learning to love ourselves.”
May your life be changed today by Veronika's witness:
Q: How old were you when you found out you were pregnant and what went through your mind?
A: I was twenty-two when I found out I was pregnant. I believed a mistake had been made: “Home pregnancy tests can be so inaccurate,” I thought. Five tests and a doctor’s appointment later, I could no longer deny that I was pregnant. My first thought was, “How on earth can I be someone's mother?” I ate a whole perogy pizza to myself as I rehearsed what I would tell my boyfriend and parents!
Q: How did your boyfriend react?
A: Though my boyfriend at the time was on board when he first heard the news, it didn't last very long; we parted ways in a very brutal manner at the eight week mark.
Q: Did you ever consider abortion? Why or why not?
A: I did, because it was pressed upon me; there was a lot of pressure. On top of that, I think it’s human to look for the nearest exit when the heat is on and our hearts are broken. I had loved her father very much, but he was gone whether I had the baby or not so I figured, “Why should I lose one more thing in my life?” I also thought about what my life would be like after an abortion—it looked empty, very empty.
Q: What would you say are the joys of being a parent, even a single parent?
A: I think I enjoy being a single parent more than if I had a partner! I like to run the show solo. There are so many joys to being a parent it’s almost hard to describe what they are separately because it all just bleeds together into this joyful life. As of right now, the most joyful moments are watching Amelia grow and develop; she said “purple” for the first time tonight and I think my heart bounced off the walls and right back to me, I get to feel that way all the time.
Q: What do you hope for your and your daughter's futures?
A: For myself, I hope to finish school so I can have all that is good in life. Education truly is freedom. I'm looking to have a house by the time I'm thirty and a Cadillac shortly before that; I have an affinity for Cadillacs. As for my daughter, I hope I may give her the hope, passion and resources not only to follow my example but to go further than I ever could imagine.
Q: If you met someone who was faced with an unplanned pregnancy, scared, and considering abortion, what would you tell them?
A: I would tell them how I went from being very directionless to a full time student with a direction because of my daughter. I feel like if I had never gotten pregnant I would still be waiting tables in a sleazy bar. A child can help you reach your potentials in life if you allow it to; the most beautiful flowers were once seeds buried in dirt, you know? I would tell them, if they believe they are not up to the task of being a parent, that the nine months we carry these little miracles is only but for a moment in comparison to the rest of our lives, and that while we are so lucky to be able to get pregnant there are women out there every day who are devastated by still born births, multiple miscarriages and the years they wait for a child to be ready for adoption. Lots of women view us as the lucky ones and that this baby may end up being someone else's only chance for a baby.
Q: Who inspires you and why?
A: All the mothers I attend school with! They are incredible ladies who not only chose to rise to the occasion of single parenthood but are now exceeding society's expectations by obtaining an education. Not a lot of people want to take the time of five or six years to obtain a degree but we know that those years pass whether we do it or not, so we might as well do it.
This interview was originally posted, in longer form, at www.endthekilling.ca. A couple years after the interview, Veronika sent this update: “I was told that you've been speaking very highly and me and my daughter Amelia. I just wanted to write you to thank you for sharing my story wherever you go and that me and Amelia are doing just fine.” She even replicated the original photo, albeit with an older Amelia: