I became a mother at 16

Child Protection FAMILY Human Rights

“As a teenager, I was not stubborn nor was I bubbly and loud. I was reserved and introverted, almost always engrossed in my books reading and revising. I was also an excellent performer in class, something that turned me into some sort of envy of everyone in our neighbourhood. You could barely tell I had a boyfriend.

Young love spelt trouble
I met my boyfriend, who is now my husband around the same time. We fell in love, and like all such stories, shortly after I realised I was pregnant. That is when it all turned south. Breaking the news to my parents is by far the most painful experience I have ever had to go through. My parents were greatly disappointed. My mother was literally in tears when the truth sank in. To make matters worse, my boyfriend was not even Muslim.

Fortunately for me, and contrary to what I expected, my family was very supportive right away. Of course, many of my relatives and our neighbours were not amused. They ridiculed me almost the entire time for casting shame upon the family. Thanks to the support I had, I carried on with my pregnancy.

On December 13, 1996 I gave birth to Sharon Kanyange, my first daughter. Carrying her in my hands for the first time made me realise that I was a child no more. I had to fend for her just like my parents had done for me. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I just had to find a way.

Motherhood and tough decisions
I had to make another tough decision. I chose not to go back to school. I was in Senior Four then which meant that I had to repeat the class. My parents’ dream was for me to become a doctor, and they were willing to see me through school even when I was a mother. But I thought it would affect my child; I would either get bad grades or a poorly raised child. I never wanted my daughter to go through what I was already going through.

I started my journey of motherhood almost immediately. I will be honest, the overwhelming support I had made it all easy. My mother, mother-in-law and a few of our close relatives were always in and out helping me. I would be lying if I told you I know how to perfectly use the famous herbal bath known as kyogero. That is how supportive they were. They did it all.
Shortly after, my boyfriend and I moved in together to start our little family. He promised to take care of us, and I must say he has since kept his word. He helped me start a small business, and concentrated on his job as an engineer. When I was 19, I gave birth to my second daughter Maria Namulwana.

Together, we have managed to raise our two daughters into responsible young ladies. Raising a girl is no small feat especially in this generation. Sharon is making 22 this year and is about to graduate with a degree in Veterinary medicine from Makerere University while her sister Maria is in Senior Five.

As a child, Sharon was so stubborn. We were always fighting. There is a time I asked her to go to the bedroom to pick something for me. I think she was around seven. Minutes later, she had not returned. I went to the bedroom to check on her only to find out that, instead of doing what I had asked her to do, she had poured milk all over the carpet.

I slapped her so badly, it terrified me later. I thought something bad would happen to her. Because I am short tempered, I was going to beat her more often as she was showing no signs of change. That is when I decided to send her to boarding school. I thought that her father and I were showering her with love,.Things had to change. Boarding school helped a great deal as she returned a changed girl. After a few school terms, she and I were on good terms. In fact, I have not had any trouble with her ever since. The thought of her going astray always scared me.

Joy of motherhood
My children are my pride. I am 38 and Sharon is 21, but people cannot believe that we are mother and daughter and not sisters. Her friends are always in awe. It makes me smile, seeing them in shock asking her how old her mother is. That is something not many parents experience. I just enjoy it.

Seeing my girls and the infinite possibilities they have to become whatever they wish to be outweighs all my regrets. At least I have not let the 16-year-old me down. Besides teaching her to make responsible decisions, I have tried to instill in her the spirit of being tough and never giving up. I have been a bit tough on her and she knows it, but it has been worth it. I do not regret it at all.”

Sharon’s story
“My mother has taught me many things, but the spirit of never giving up which she has instilled in me stands out. She has gone through a lot raising us and always going the extra mile so that we have everything we desire. I have been to good schools, and never have I had troubles of school fees.

Growing up, our home was filled with so much joy and happiness. However, she was always a tough disciplinarian. I thought that she disapproved of the fact that my father loved me so much. I was sent to boarding school, a decision I later found out was made because I was quite stubborn. When I became old enough, I understood why she and my father were doing all this. I also found out that her dream was to be a doctor. I decided to concentrate on my books so that I become the doctor she wanted to be.

I attended a number of primary schools; Kampala Quality Primary School, Vincent Alex Boarding Primary School, Mukono then Namugongo Girls School where I was until Primary Seven. I then joined St. Maria Goretti Katende for my O-Level and Rubaga Girls School for A-Level. I am now in my third year doing Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University. My dream is to graduate and make her proud.

Source Daily Monitor

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