By- Cherelinis Filp–All throughout my years of high School teachers, family and friends would complement my work ethic. They praised my good grades until I got pregnant in my senior year of high school. All of a sudden I became just another statistic.
I was told that changing schools would be a good idea because they didn’t want me to send the wrong message to other students at my school. I was told that the welfare cycle was going to be my new life and all I’d ever know.
I was told so many things, many negative things and no one ever bothered to open doors for me so that I wouldn’t become just another statistic. I wanted to be more than what society labels me so my child could have a fighting chance at beating the system and making himself an honest man. They didn’t believe I would go to onto college and find a job and stay off public assistance.
Looking back, no one told me that I would fall in love with my child before I gave birth or that motherhood was the most amazing thing I could go through. I came into those emotions on my own. I read parenting articles about balancing affection and discipline. I tried to look at things from a different angle, so I wouldn’t find myself making the same mistakes the women in my family made.
I wanted to be the best mother to my son. Even now, I can’t believe I kept it together through some of the situations I endured. The most important lesson I learned was to be appreciative. It’s so easy to focus on the things you don’t have in life, but there are so many things to be grateful for. I try to remind myself that we all fight our own day to day battles and no one is better than the next. We have to be grateful for what we do have.
Becoming a mother was the best thing to ever happen to me, and I don’t ever regret my decision because without my son I would be lost.
To some, I was just another Latina who got pregnant as a teenager. I am more than that. I am a Latina who comes from an amazing family of strong- willed women. Each generation strives to take their children further than the last. I was born and raised in New York City by Dominican parents. I am currently a Hospitality Management student at NYC College of Technology, with dreams to one day open my own bakery.
Without my mother, I would not be as hardworking as I am. She has always reminded me that whether it’s in this big city or in the small village where she grew up, people are the same and we must stick close to family to be able to succeed.
They all wanted the American Dream we were all once promised, but I’ve realized that our system thrives on the struggles of the everyday person. What’s an American Dream to the mother who has to put food on the table every night? Or the teenager who cannot afford college?
They make day to day life so hard that we have lost focus of that dream. So let’s go back to the generations before us who arrived to this country to make a better life for us. Let’s make a new dream, the Latina dream. A goal for ourselves to achieve not what society tells us is success, but what keeps us happy.
Cherelinis Filpo is a New York native with Dominican Roots. She currently works as a paraprofessional at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artist. Filpo attends NYC College of Technology and is pursuing hospitality management.