This post was written by me in partnership with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. I have been compensated for my time but all thoughts, opinions and crazy stories are my own.
I’ve spent the last week binge-watching the show “Unexpected” whenever my kids aren’t in the room. During every episode, I ask myself at least five times why in the world I’m watching this show. But I know why.
I was once these girls. Minus the three generations of teen moms in their families and the now-in fashion nose ring, but I was still a teen mom with no idea what I was doing. Just clueless enough to think I knew it all.
As “Unexpected” follows the path of each teen mom, they inevitably hit the point where they’ve decided they know more than their parents. They can do more, live better, make smarter decisions than the adults who’ve been adulting for many years. As if becoming a parent at age 16, 17, or 18 magically turns you a decade wiser than your years.
Becoming a young mom does cause you to grow up overnight, but you’re still too young to realize all of the things you are too young to understand. New moms of any age are quick to admit they don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to taking care of a baby. The only thing different about teen moms is that they have something to prove.
Through the journey of each of the young moms on the show that I can’t stop watching, every single one of them hits the point where she announces she will be moving out of her parents’ house. From moving into an apartment with her boyfriend to believing she can rent the house down the street, the scenarios are all similar. Bottom line, anywhere is better than being under the roof of people who are telling her what to do.
None of these girls have finished school or started college or found full-time jobs with benefits yet; they’re just ready to go. They’ve got a baby, a ton of responsibilities, and are dreaming of a place that’s better than wherever they are right now.
I know all of this because of their very honest interviews sprinkled throughout each episode and because I was them too. I was too young to understand what I didn’t know yet, and I had big plans to move out with my daughter the minute I was out of high school and had more than $50 in the bank.
My grand plan was to rent an apartment with a friend, go to college part-time, work part-to-full time, and raise a baby on my own. I was living rent-free in a home stocked with groceries and babysitting family members. Teen Me thought this was a great idea. Also, if it took me 20 years, it was better than staring down at four to five years of living in my parent’s house while I finished school.
Adult Me thinks back and wants to have a talk with Teen Me that goes something like this:
You are living with your parents; they are paying your bills, providing food, a home, and all of the things you and your baby need to live comfortably. They are willing to put up with your attitude until you finish college so that you can head out into the world in a much better situation for you and your daughter, but you think leaving all of that is the right idea?
Teen Me would shrug her shoulders to all of this and reply:
But luckily, Teen Me somehow stayed the course, and somehow my parents tolerated my insufferable self. I’m not sure how I ultimately gave up my plans of moving out. All I know is, month by month, my daughter and I kept staying as I worked my way through college, and my parents kept me and my eye rolls, and we made it to the other side.
When I finished college and got a good job, I was older and more understanding of what went into living on your own. I rented my first flat a few months later. I moved close to my parents in Michigan because, of course. I might have wanted to move out of their house but moving further than a quick drive away was out of the question.
Soon enough, I had tucked enough money away to buy my first house. With the help of the first-time homebuyer options through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) I was able to move out of that flat and into my first home before my first year as a renter was complete. I didn’t have to use all of my savings for a down payment and was able to join the world of homeownership ahead of the game financially. As a single mom, I had the same options available to me as any other prospective homebuyer, thanks to MSHDA.
As I sit here today, 20 years later, one child far older than I was when I had her, four more kids born after I was happily married, watching Season 2 of Unexpected, I’m grateful for a lot of things. I’m thankful for programs like the ones offered by MSHDA that allow young moms like I once was to build a foundation for their families. I’m grateful that I didn’t let my stubbornness get the best of me. My need to prove I could raise my child without help didn’t get in the way of accepting the much-needed help my parents were offering.
More than anything, I’m grateful for my parents, the ones who must have breathed deep through my eye rolls and looked deep inside themselves for peace as I explained to them I knew everything at the age of 17 or so. They gave me a chance, and they gave my daughter a chance, and we both got off to the right start in life. A little earlier than anyone expected but absolutely on the right path for all of us.
To learn more about the programs at MSHDA that got me off to a great start as a homebuyer, you can visit the MSHDA website and find an option that works best for you and your dreams.
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