Hi, my name is Carla Wiliams-Bozeman. I was born and partly raised in Sarasota, Florida. I’m a hairstylist by trade but use that as a platform to speak about Jesus Christ.
Take us to the beginning. Who was 13/14 year old Carla?
At 13 years old, I was a naïve little girl that lived with her Dad in Sarasota, Florida. I was not very sociable, so I read a lot. My dad was ex-military so there was structure in our home. When 9 o’clock came and John boy Walton said good night, I had to say good night. I wanted to go to Booker Jr. High School because that’s where everyone I knew went. My dad signed me up at Brookside, LOL. I understand now.
How did you meet your daughter’s dad?
I met my daughter’s dad when I moved out to California with my mom, while breaking my dad’s heart by leaving him. But my mom had no rules and I thought that’s what I wanted.
My mom actually encouraged our meeting saying, “Tyrone likes you, he should be your boyfriend.” Well honestly my idea of being a boyfriend was holding hands and maybe sneaking a lip kiss – and that meant you were just about married. He on the other hand knew differently at 16, born and raised in the big city of L.A.
How did you find out you were pregnant and how did you feel?
I got up to get ready for school and my mom and Tyrone were in the living room. She said you’re not going to school, you’re going to the Doctor. The Doctor said I was pregnant and I said, “No I can’t be because I haven’t had any watermelon.” Well my Grandmother used to say you get pregnant by swallowing a watermelon seed and I believed her.
It’s funny now, but back then I didn’t understand why the Doctor was so upset at my mom or why my dad kept crying and was so angry. All the Doctor had to do was cut my stomach open and get the baby out.
How did your parents react to the news?
My dad was devastated. He wanted me to get an abortion and come home. He sent the money, and I bought a crib after finding out what an abortion was. It wasn’t an option for me. My mom just didn’t seem moved at all, but she was only 15 when she had me and at that time was only 28. She taught me what she knew which was nothing.
What were some significant changes you experienced during your pregnancy and did you feel supported?
Tyrone was born into a gang in L.A. and while pregnant those guys wouldn’t even allow me to walk to the corner store alone. Because of my surroundings they made me feel so protected, not realizing there were people that would hurt me to hurt him.
My mom did the best with what she knew, but with me being 13/14, Tyrone pretty much lived with me. He helped with my sisters (who were 13 and 10 at the time when I had the baby) because my mom stayed a lot of nights at her boyfriend house – and she was okay with that.
I got my sister’s ready for school and Tyrone walked my little sister (10 years old) to the bus stop and then walk me and my other sister (13 years old) to school. I never dropped out of school.
Tyrone’s sister was a big help. Then she found out that she was pregnant so she taught me a lot about my pregnancy.
How was the labor and delivery experience for you? Did you feel prepared and supported?
I really don’t know how long my labor was because I’ve always had so much pain during my monthly cycle. I went to the hospital because I was having dry heaves so badly. When they checked me, I was 7cm and just cramping like my monthly was on.
I was terrified because I had gone through the birthing classes and in all of the videos the women were screaming in pain. So I kept saying how is this going to take?
I also remember later that day a nurse coming in and very loudly said, “Aren’t you the little 14 year old new mom?” Which meant I was the topic of conversation. Oh the embarrassment I felt was unreal. So, I said no, as if the chart wasn’t right there!
After having Tia, did you feel like you had automatically grown up? Was anyone supportive to you?
After having Tia, I absolutely felt I grew up quickly from the little clueless girl to this extremely spoiled little girl. Tia was everyone’s first and it showed. My mom got welfare for us so sometimes she would buy diapers and Tyrone’s family helped as long as I stayed in L.A.
Then you had two more daughters. How old were you at those times and did your support system change?
I got pregnant with my 2nd daughter just before I left L.A. I didn’t even know for sure that I was pregnant. When I found out I didn’t tell anyone except Tyrone. I was humiliated, but when she was born she was the prettiest chocolate baby I had ever seen. So at my high school graduation at 16, I had two children in attendance.
My final child was conceived when I left Tampa and moved back to Sarasota after Tyrone took the money we had (from selling soda bottles) and moved back to L.A. Once again I was devastated. My daughter was born after he left and I moved back to Sarasota.
I met a guy that was the total opposite of Tyrone. He was sweet, kind and gentle. We started dating and along came the sweetest, mild tempered little girl. When she was 9 months old, I caught him cheating and I had a decision to make. So I broke it off, leaving me with three little girls and my journey continues.
If you could go back in time and mentor 14 year old Carla, what would you say or do to encourage her?
I would teach her about sex and pregnancy. I would let her know it’s okay to be different and that she is enough.
My great-grandmother was 13 when she got married and was pregnant soon after. My grandmother was 16 when she had her 1st. My mom was 15 when she had her 1st and I was 14 when I had my 1st, daughter Tia. I believe Tia was supposed to be a 13 year old mom, but I found out about the power of breaking generational curses.
Any words of advice or encouragement for parents and family of teens mom’s?
I would tell the parents to encourage these kids, speak life into them. They have enough outsiders making negative comments to and about them.
Any words of advice or encouragement for current teen mom’s?
I would tell teen mom’s that play time is over, it’s not just about you anymore. The life you’ve chosen is a very difficult one, but it’s a doable one. Take it one day at a time. Take time –even if only for 30 minutes- to yourself to recoup. Even if the dad walks off, those are still your babies and you will never find anyone or thing to love you like your babies.
Carla is the founder of Team Eliza, an organization geared towards helping and mentoring teen girls. She wants to remind them that it doesn’t matter where they started from.
Stay tuned for Carla’s interview on the Sincerely, Mrs. Mommy Podcast. Until then, why not check out some of the most recent blog?