Erica Sullivan, twenty-two, with her son James
Erica My name is Erica Sullivan, I am 22 years old. My son’s name is James Jr. and he’s four.
Amanda What was your relationship with James (baby James’ father) when you got pregnant?
Erica When I got pregnant, everything was good. Throughout the pregnancy, everything was good until my ninth month when he got locked up and everything went downhill. My due date was June 26th. He got locked up June 4th. At first I saw them take him away and I was just shocked. I just started to loose my mind. So then he was incarcerated. I had to come up with 5,500 to bail him out, and I didn’t come up with that money until after I had my son. So I went through the whole ninth month by myself, the labor, the delivery, all that. And I raised my son by myself for the first three months.
Amanda Were you really mad at him?
Erica When he first got locked up I was mad. Yeah, I was mad just knowing that I had to do it by myself. But then once my son was born I was like, “I don’t need you. I have my kid.” That was just my focus and all that I worried about was him.
Amanda What kinds of things was he being incarcerated for?
Erica Um, he caught three cases during my pregnancy. He caught an attempted murder case, a drug case, and a stupid case that got dismissed.
Amanda How was it when James wasn’t in jail?
Erica When James came out, my son was exactly three months old. I started YouthStar (full time work) October 4th so from October to February he was the one who watched my son. He always bought him stuff when he needed it. He was a great father. I had no complaints about him except catching cases.
I think the most fun part is just seeing everything. Just seeing him grow. Like, when I was young I used to say, I don’t want to have a kid because I don’t want them to grow up I want them to stay a baby. But then seeing him learn how to walk, learn how to crawl, everything like it’s amazing.
Amanda Then he went in again?
Erica: So he got incarcerated and found guilty on June 30th 2005 which is my son’s first birthday. He went in. He didn’t get released till March 2007 on parole. He came out, things were good. July 2007 so that’s what 5 years we were together, he decided to cheat on me and I kicked him out and we’ve been broken up ever since.
Amanda If you could do your life over again would you change the age that you first got pregnant?
Erica I don’t think so. Because I’m happy I got it done when I did. I wasn’t too young. Plus when I’m 40 he’s not going to be 10 or something. He’s going to be old enough. So, I think my age to his age is good.
Amanda And where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Erica I want to finish school, get a better apartment. Get a higher position in my job-making the big bucks.
Amanda Are there ways that you are raising James because of your childhood?
Erica I used to always get my ass beat when I was younger because I was so bad. But like when he acts up I don’t hit him. I put him in the corner. I put him in bed for the whole night. I try not to yell at him, but I sometimes I notice myself because my mother used to yell at me. It’s something that just pops up, and then I catch myself and I try not to say it again. But sometimes when he does stuff, I just scream. Like breaking my television.
Amanda Is it still hard to go to work and doing everything hard?
Erica I became Project Supervisor, did that for a year and now I’m the Program Assistant. It’s difficult and stuff. I work 8 to 8 sometimes and it’s really hard but in the end the money’s good so. Sometimes it’s just really hard. It’s hard for me when I have a hard day at work and then I sit back and think is this what I really want? But everybody has their bad days.
Amanda What has been the most fun and most difficult part of being a mom?
Erica I think the most fun part is just seeing everything. Just seeing him grow. Like, when I was young I used to say, I don’t want to have a kid because I don’t want them to grow up I want them to stay a baby. But then seeing him learn how to walk, learn how to crawl, everything like it’s amazing.
Amanda Anything other thoughts?
Erica I don’t have to depend on a man. Like some of these girls they depend on guys. I’m waiting for my son’s father to buy me this or buy me that. I don’t wait for my son’s father to buy me nothing. Obviously I never did because he was in jail.So, it just made me more independent that I don’t have to rely on him for nothing. Struggling is good sometimes. It sometimes sucks though. It’s alright, I can’t complain.
I feel like sometimes people judge teen mom’s like “oh they’re just another…” Sometimes I think, “Damn it’s harder because they still aren’t even close to being done,” but if they put their minds to it they can do it. Cause there were many many many times I was like, “I can’t do this. I can’t take this no more,” and I would cry and cry and cry and cry and cry. But then I had to because it’s not for me. It’s for him. And if I just break down and stop, what’s going to happen to him?