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Youth Radio's Rynesha Snowden knows what it takes for a teenager to raise a child.
By Rynesha Snowden
When I hear the word "mother" I think about a person being there, listening and showing her children she loves them. Talking to my mom was never an option because the bond wasn't there, she never showed affection. I didn't know if she loved me or not because she never said it. I couldn't bear to let Muffin experience any of that.
Muffin is my two-year-old cousin. Her real name is Jah'leah. Her mama had her young -- at the age of 13. I knew her mama wasn't ready for a baby, but her mind was set. She used to say "I'm having this baby for me." And I'd say, "but can you handle taking care of this baby?" "Yeah I can." I couldn't talk her out of it, so all I could do was be there for her, and for Muffin.
For the past few months, I've been caring part-time for Muffin, because I'm able to provide her with things she can't get at home. In my house there's more discipline. I don't let her throw tantrums, yell at me, or make demands. She's the child and I make sure she understands I'm the adult.
At her mama's house, Jah'leah doesn't eat as well as she should, and that bothers me. She needs vitamins and minerals, which I make sure she gets from foods like yogurt, rice and beans. To others it might seem stressful raising a child, but I'm not doing anything that hasn't already been modeled by my great granny and my god mama. They stepped up to give me what my mama couldn't.
My great granny taught me affection and my god mama broadened my vision, my little Muffin needs to feel the same love they showered on me. Jah'leah's mom is 15, and raising a child just isn't her priority. I'm happy to fill in the gaps, but I want her to recognize that her daughter needs her. I'm showing Muffin love so that she can grow up to be the best person she's capable of being. I'm also showing her love, in the hopes her mom will someday do the same.
With a Perspective, I'm Rynesha Snowden.