Stella Wanyonyi speaks candidly on becoming a teen mum, finding her footing and living her dreams again
Picture this, an 18-year-old girl, in high school working hard in her studies, envisioning a bright future ahead. Then poof! She discovers she is pregnant.
This discovery sends her into panic mode, not knowing what step to take— whether or not to keep the pregnancy, and if she does keep it, whether she would hack motherhood and all the responsibilities that come with it.
“It is so disappointing for a parent to be called to school only to be told to go back home with your daughter because she is expectant. And this is what my mama had to endure,” the 32-year-old recalls.
She adds: “I mean, she had sacrificed so much to put me through school and then this happened! I felt guilty, I was shattered, disappointed more than she was. I felt like my whole life had crumbled down. But despite all that, my mother chose to support me, and that is what gave me the strength to soldier on,” she says.
At the time she discovered she was pregnant, she was in Form Four. She needed to sit for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams no matter what. “When I was almost due, the school released me. I stayed at home studying for my final exams. This was a challenging period in my life. To be honest, I had no idea how my life would turn out at that moment,” she explains.
Later in the year, she delivered a baby boy and went back to school to sit for her exams. “It was time to work extra hard and just redeem myself in my parents’ eyes. Luckily, I passed my exams and proceeded to college. I thank God that not long after, I found a job and took the responsibilities off my mother’s shoulder,” she recalls.
Despite becoming a mother at a young age, Stella admits that motherhood has been a wonderful experience. “When I held my son for the first time, it was a life-changing moment. However, it has been a learning process. My son is now 14 years old, in Form One and doing great in his studies. I have never regretted having him early since he is my world,” she says.
Stella who works as a school administrator says her son who is in his teenage years from time to time needs guidance from a male figure; hence she is grateful to her two brothers who have been there for her son. One acts as a disciplinarian while the other as the ‘cool uncle’.
“My sister is the awesome aunt while my parents are like mum and dad to him. In this equation, I guess I am just a best friend who takes care of him,” the single mother says.
What has worked
There are parenting tips she has employed to navigate through this journey. “What I have learnt recently is that teenagers sometimes do need their space. Children have their own pride and dignity. You can guide them, but at times let them learn from the world,” she says.
She adds: “Communication is important. Practise the patience of listening to each other. I listen to the verbal and non-verbal communication and try to work around that depending on the circumstances.
Respect, is another key thing. I have tried to teach my son that respect is two way. For example, I don’t expect instant compliance from him, but I surely expect him to do what I say.
Also, respect for people’s rights and property. My ‘No means No’. As much as we are best of friends with my son, he knows that I can be stern. After all, I am still the chief disciplinarian in my house.”
Motherhood also comes with the challenge of making life decisions about values, beliefs, identity, career, lifestyle and relationships with others, but in all these for the better of the child. She offers: “I have also learnt the art of prayer. Being a mother means the worries about your child from birth to any stage of growth never end.
Prayers keep you grounded. Patience is another virtue a mother has to learn; patience with the house manager, teachers in school, with everybody who you will possibly come into contact with since you don’t want any negativity to bounce back to your child. This, especially comes in when I have a contradicting opinion and still have to reprimand with love.”
As a working parent, her number one rule is “do what you are able to, rely on others to help when you are not able, and put your job as a parent before anything that you possibly can.”
Stella is proud of her son. Her lesson? One is bound to make mistakes, to fall, but if they have the zeal to bounce back and forge ahead, they definitely will.