Single parent keeps hope

Kara Willingham

For college students, a full class load, job and social life leave aside little free time. The choice to become a parent takes serious thought and a lot of responsibility.

Some students cannot imagine taking care of another life as part of their daily routine.

For Saddleback College Students Karla Bates, 23,nursing, being a mother inspires her to reach for the top and not give up on her dreams. She is taking 12.5 units at Saddleback, works in the applied sciences department and still finds time to take care of her 3-year-old daughter Kaylyn.

“She motivates me and makes me more independent,” Bates said. “I do everything. I am the mother, father and head of the household.”

Bates and her daughter are on a tight budget and live month to month. She saves money and pays rent in her Lake Forest home.

A typical day for Bates includes waking up at 6:30 a.m., getting ready, taking her daughter to daycare, going to work, going to class, picking Kaylyn up and then making dinner. After dinner, she has to clean the house, do her homework and put her daughter to bed.

This chain of events lasts throughout the week but Bates does not let it bring her down.

“I think help is out there but you have to have motivation to pursue your dreams,” Bates said. “It’s just part of my life and I accept it.”

Bates, like other young parents, must find daycare for her child during the week. Childcare is costly but affordable daycare centers are on campus.

Saddleback and Irvine Valley College students who are in need of daycare can visit either child development center on each campus. The center allows potty-trained children at least two to six years into the program and enrollment is offered for half-day or full-day sessions.

“The Child Development Center at Saddleback serves as a campus-based child development program that provides quality NAEYC accredited childcare services to students, staff, and community families,” said Wes Thomas, center director. “Our year-round program is open five days per week and follows the district’s academic calendar.”

Saddleback students have first priority for enrollment, and student parents create their own schedule at the center for childcare based on their needs.

Parents who enroll their child in the center can expect a play-based approach to early learning for their children.

“Children are receptive to learning constantly throughout the day, through interactions with peers, teachers, and parents,” Thomas said. “Our curriculum develops around children’s emergent needs.”

The child’s needs are put first in most parents’ lives and Bates says that parenthood can also change ones social life, group of friends and weekend activities.

“You associate with other moms and talk about your kids,” Bates said. “I don’t go out and party much but I think that it part of being a good mom.”

Bates has become close with her daughter and feels that she cooperates well with this procedure.

“I feel like she knows my situation and works with me,” Bates said. “I feel fortunate because she is so good.”

Bates advices other young mothers to never give up.

“Your life is not over, don’t get discouraged,” Bates said. “If you are motivated and have positive people around you, there are resources that can help.”