It was New Year’s Eve, 2003. We were taking down all the Christmas decorations, because in that part of my family, we started a new year with a clean house. I was doing all the low-down stuff, Dad was taking down the lights outside, and my stepmother was taking down the stuff on the walls inside (I think).
I was a week past eight months pregnant. I had moved back in with my father because the pregnancy had been hard on me, and it affected my ability to work, and thus my ability to pay my rent and buy food. Things had been going pretty well all up, and I’d been doing my best to get along with my stepmother. I’m sure she was doing the same.
I was going to spend New Years with some friends, and my father was going to drop me off (I had no car, and public transport was a bit spotty out where we were). I was looking forward to it, spending time with friends before the baby came and changed everything.
I don’t remember what happened, what I said or did, but something happened that made my stepmother angry. The one thing I remember was what she told my father. She said “It’s either her or me”, spitting out the ‘her’ like it was a particularly bitter poison.
My father grabbed the stuff I’d packed, and hurried me into the car. I was scared, upset, tearful. It was a long drive to where I was spending New Years, maybe half an hour. I don’t remember if we talked, what we talked about, but by the time I stepped out of that car that afternoon, I knew I was not welcome back. Dad would pack up my few things.
I was sixteen years old, past eight months pregnant, and I was homeless.
My mother was over from Kenya, and she stepped in and made it better. She bought me a home to live in, and a week before my due date, I moved in. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my mother, her partner, and the rest of her family. My mother and grandmother both stayed on and off until after the baby was born, supporting me and helping me transition into a new part of my life.
But I will never forget being young, pregnant, and abandoned by my father because he chose his abusive wife over his daughter in her hour of need.