From teen mom to employed home owner
TERRIFIED, 16, and pregnant.
You would never guess that 23 years ago that was Jenny Thornton, now married with six boys, a job as a teacher's aid and the owner of her own home.
At the PAMPA morning tea for young mothers last Friday, Jenny was asked along as a guest speaker to share her story with a room full of other young mums embarking down the same path Jenny faced more than two decades ago.
To kick things off Jenny said despite the initial fear, she found reassurance in the belief that her pregnancy was a special gift.
"I spent the first seven years single and every year thereafter with a partner. I've had both experiences," she said.
"Even though I was intimidated as a single teenage mum, I always knew it was precious. My relationship with my child was all that mattered. He was my all.
"I was terrified but I knew his journey shouldn't suffer because of my choices.
"Being a mother is a precious joy."
When asked what raising six boys was like Jenny's answer was simple.
"It's beautiful actually," she said.
Jenny said when she had her first child in 1991 there wasn't the support in the form of groups like PAMPA back then, or at least that she was aware of.
"It was isolating in a way, in that I felt intimidated by these older mothers that seemed wiser. I'm not sure if they did or not but it felt like they looked down on me in a patronising way, as if to say I couldn't possibly know what I was doing."
But one thing Jenny did learn after the birth of her second child 10 years later was that being a first-time mother at 17 was really no different to being a first-time mother at 30.
"It took me until my second child to realise that I didn't know any less than someone older than me. A first-time mum is still a first-time mum, no matter what age," she said.
To help her come to terms with her newfound parenthood Jenny said she began to read books such as The Complete Single Mother, and started her Certificate III in Early Childhood, which opening her eyes to new ways of parenting.
"The first five years of your child's life are when they form their morals and values, so surround yourself with positive people; be the person you want your child to be and take time out every day to spend one-on-one time with each child," she said.
Even with six kids to fit in, Jenny said freeing up just 15 minutes a day with each child before bed helped to make her children feel loved and heard.
"Be a mindful mother and love what you are doing," she said.