Time Travel

by Mollianne on October 26, 2015

I did a little time travel last week. Went back about eighteen years, to my daughter’s Junior year in high school.

Not exactly the best year of our lives in many ways, and the most amazing in other ways.

You see, I was a recently single mom with a son in his second year of college, a daughter who was pregnant and an ex-husband who had left town to get married and start a new life.

Nothing in my life up to that point had sufficiently prepared me for the battles and demons I would face that year.

Nothing except my bull-headed determination, perhaps some true grit and deep-down-strong-woman roots I wasn’t even aware I possessed.

Not only was I anxious about how I was going to mother my child who was about to be a mother herself, but I also had no idea how we would make ends meet!

How she would finish school? What in the world were we going to do with this baby she was growing?

{And if I’m telling the truth, there was some occasional rage that tasted like bile in my throat against her father whose commitment and concern seemed to end in the mailing of a monthly child support check. }

I found myself in a fight and I felt absolutely and completely insufficient for the fight.

I was fighting the whole world.

I went places I never thought I’d go.

We applied for and were able to receive W.I.C. food for my daughter while she was pregnant.  Medicaid paid for her pre-natal visits and the hospital bill. Walking in those buildings, filling out paperwork with her, signing forms and knowing without the assistance I would sink; those were hard pills to swallow.

The worst fight was with the school itself.  Not the school so much as the school administration. She needed to stay hydrated and she needed to go to the restroom facilities on a regular basis. Her doctor wrote a note saying she should be excused from class to use the restroom and she should carry a water bottle and be allowed to drink the water consistently throughout the day.

I hit a rock and then a hard place with the administration. The request was refused. I marched my 4 ft, 11 inch, 110 pound self to the school and I am certain I had smoke pouring out of my ears.

Honey, I was h-o-t HOT!

I sat across the desk from an assistant principal and he said these words to me, “Ms. Buster. I’m sorry your daughter is pregnant. But we simply cannot allow her any special privileges simply because she had the bad luck to become pregnant.”

He had no idea the depth to which this Momma would go to fight for her girl, no matter what she’d done. 

Hell hath no fury like a lover spurned? Nothing compared to a mother fighting not only for her daughter’s health and well-being but also that of her first grandchild.

I had done my research. I calmly told him he could comply with the doctor’s note or the doctor would do the paperwork to temporarily label her pregnancy a disability. And the school would at that point comply or the Feds would be on them like ugly on an ape.  I also told him I’d happily call my friend who worked at the newspaper to see if the paper would be interested in the school administration’s attitude toward a pregnant teen.

Then he said words to me that stung and hurt and humiliated me worse than any I have ever heard. 

He said, “We don’t want her type at our school. She needs to drop out and become the statistic she already is. She’s ruined her life and we don’t want her here as a bad influence on other students.

Pretty sure that direct quote is seared into my brain.

I didn’t blink an eye. I did not back down. I looked him straight in the eye and I did.not.back.down.

He did.

She was allowed to carry a water bottle and use the restroom facilities when she needed to go.  She went to the public high school until she was six weeks out from her due date and then she transferred to a Learning Center and was tutored at home.  She finished her Junior year, took her GED and entered college in the fall.

The rest of her story has some bumps in the road, but my girl completed her college education {graduated Cum Laude, thank you very much} and is working as a contract employee for the very same school system. She has recently married and is a good wife and a good mother. She shines like a bright star everywhere she goes. She is my Girl-with-a-million-watt-smile!

And the administrator who didn’t want her there?

He is now an elected official, serving on our school board. {An elected official for whom I did not vote. I may or may not have campaigned against him.}

Which leads me to the point of my tale.

My oldest grandson-the one born during my daughter’s Junior year of high school-is a Senior this year in the very same high school.

He was honored last week, along with many of his classmates, for academic excellence.  At that one school, over $137,000 was given to over 200 students as an incentive/reward for  above average AP and ACT test scores.

Friends, can you guess who shook his hand to congratulate him when his name was called?

The very same school administrator.

I am certain he has long since forgotten those things he said to me 19 years ago at his desk. And I’m equally certain he has no idea of the connection between my daughter and her son and me.

But I know.

I recall.

I was there 19 years ago.

I was there last week as he shook the boy’s hand.

It seemed time had looped around and come full circle. I sat in the bleachers, surrounded by hundreds of people and in that moment felt as if everything was happening in slow motion. I watched the boy reach out his hand to accept the handshake of the elected official.

The pain and shame and humiliation I’d felt with the sting of his unkind, uncaring words 19 years ago melted away.

Hard work, perseverance, effort and plain old gumption had won.

I may have walked out of the school gym about 5 inches taller than I walked into it that day.

I know the boy certainly did.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy DeKok October 27, 2015 at 9:28 am

Bravo! What a great legacy you have built into your family. You also remind me of my Mama who is no win heaven. She did battle for her kids with love, passion, and wisdom. Just like you!

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Mollianne October 27, 2015 at 9:39 am

Thank you, Joy. I can’t tell you what it felt like to see our boy receive an award from the very same administrator who didn’t want my girl in the school. And I can’t tell you how very proud I am of her, either.

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