(Memphis) A year brings a lot of change, for new mom Donisha Eatmon.
She is 16 now and her daughter Kendricka a lively and curious one year old.
“She keeps me busy,” says Donisha.
This teen mom is quickly learning the challenges of motherhood, caring for her daughter with the $192 dollars a month she gets from welfare.
“I buy her clothes, shoes, Pampers, whatever she needs,” says Donisha.
She and her daughter share a small apartment with Donisha’s mom, Thelma Eatmon, and money is tight, “I got behind. I couldn’t catch up. They send me two bills in one month.”
It’s hard to make ends meet.
Ms. Eatmon, who is on disability and not working struggles to keep the lights on. MLGW cut off notices come frequently
“I don’t want my grand baby in the cold or us in the dark,” she says.
Parents and grandparents of teen mothers often find themselves the sole providers for their children and grandchildren.
“I just never added up just how much money I would be out of,” says 20-year-old Claytorea Bills. She is getting a tough money lesson.
Her 9-month-old son Jordan is growing by the minute.
Money she would have for herself is now spent on him.
“Pampers, clothes, new bottles. It’s starting to get cold, coats, hats gloves,” says Claytorea.
Claytorea has help from family and Jordan’s dad, Justin Foster.
She is now in Community College with a grant that provides her a small income and allows her to live in her own place.
But there are still challenges here, shots rang out at her Frayser apartment complex just steps from where she’s raising her young son.
“No matter how hard it gets, you gotta hang in there and push yourself and do well,” says Summer Owens. She knows about hardships. She had a son at 15, but refused to let it stop her from finishing school.
“I was a teen mom but I had so many other things people can use to describe me, other than the girl with the baby,” says Owens.
Now she works at Fed Ex, has written a book about being a teen mother, and mentors other young moms.
Her efforts landed her the University of Memphis Young Alumni of the Year Award.
Her son, now 17, was at her side.
But she doesn’t gloss over the struggles.
“There are a lot of difficult challenges and it affects your life in ways you can’t imagine until you are in this situation,” says Owens.
We brought Claytorea and Summer Owens together.
Having someone who has been there is important.
Though Justin is still in the baby’s life, he and Claytorea aren’t together as a couple.
Parenthood can put a strain on young relationships.
Dreams of being together often fade.
But Justin says it’s important to be there for his son.
“It’s a busy schedule being around 24 hours, waking up, school, coming and making sure he’s OK and got everything he needs and providing for him,” says Justin.
Strained relationships, money problems, safe places to live all issues becoming real life realities for teens who now have to think about toddlers and find a way to keep them from becoming statistics.