In honor of Mother’s Day, BlackEnterprise.com talked with professional women from across the country— from a single working mother to a woman who’s delaying motherhood to focus on her career — to talk family planning choices. Each gives candid insight into their decisions, how their lives were changed and how they’re pursuing their career goals and advancement.
TRIUMPHANT TEEN MOTHER TURNED WIFE & ENTREPRENEUR
Summer Alexander, 33, CEO and Market Research Consultant, Summer Alexander Research
LIFE-CHANGING GROWING PAINS: When I found out I was pregnant at 17, I was completely shocked, terrified and extremely disappointed with myself. I thought I had ruined my life.
MOTHERHOOD CHALLENGES: My first daughter was born prematurely (1lb, 12 oz) and was hospitalized for the first six months of her life in a hospital that was located two hours from my home. This meant I had to drop out of school my senior year. While my peers were planning for prom and graduation, I was praying next to an incubator that was housing my tiny daughter. Once she was released from the hospital she required 24-hour monitoring which meant initially that I was unable to return to school. Eventually I obtained my GED and graduated from college, but those first couple of years were filled with struggle. I later had another daughter, got married and had a son with my current husband.
PROFESSIONAL TURNING POINT: I was working a full-time job at a telecommunications company. I lost two hours out of every day just to travel to and from work, and my girls were at that tricky age where they were too old for day care and too young to be left unattended for several hours. It was around this time that I hit a crossroads: My company was downsizing and offering buyouts for people to voluntarily leave. I had a choice in the matter and my gut told me to go. During my time off, I returned to school and soon after launched my business as a market research consultant which allows me to work from home — the best of both worlds.
FROM WORKING MOM TO MOMMY-PRENEUR: Being home was a breath of fresh air because I’m passionate about my children. I kept my mind active by being in school, and the energy of my household changed from one of the same day-to-day routine to a much more peaceful environment. My children were and still are happy to have me at home. Also by the time I when back to school and was starting my business, I was married and had just recently given birth to our son who has never attended daycare.
LONGTERM FAMILY & BUSINESS GOALS: My goal is to grow my company in such a way that I can support, nurture and encourage other African American women in doing the same. My daughters are 16 and 13 years old, and my son is 5 and will be heading to kindergarten this fall, which will allow me more time during the day to bring my vision to reality. The girls are great because they help out around the house by preparing dinner a couple of nights a week and when I am working they graciously keep their little brother entertained until my husband is home from work. My husband and children are extremely supportive of me and they make me feel like nothing is impossible. As long as I have their support I know achieving my goals is simply a matter of time.
ADVICE FOR TODAY’S TEEN MOMS: Your children need you to pursue your dreams. They will be watching your every move and if you are unhappy they will sense it and carry it with them in some form for the rest of their lives. It will be very important to forge ahead with your life’s plans because the desire to do so is never going to go away and if you don’t, you run the risk of pushing your dreams on your children or worse diminishing their dreams because you never pursued yours.