Photos c/o : Jonathan Encarnacion
Jo is a modern day soul seeker living life with intention and purpose. She combined her passion for wellness with her experience in empowering employees and pursued a career in health and life coaching. Each day she seeks to find adventure in the ways she lives her life with her two daughters and husband, while still prioritizing self-care and self-love.
I found out I was pregnant at 20 years old. This was an unexpected life change in more ways than one. Not only was I becoming a parent before I was even ready, I only had 3 months to prepare!
I have always been the woman who has her period for 2 or 3 days. I had changed my birth control a few months before I got pregnant so the erratic bleeding didn’t concern me. Every nurse I called told me, “its just your new birth control. Don’t worry.”
The day I realized my period had still not arrived I did what every responsible young lady would do – I picked up a pregnancy test. It was positive. I took another one. Positive again.
I scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood and was outright shocked at what the nurses told me. “Miss, you’re approximately 24 weeks pregnant.” My heart sank to my gut, I started shaking on the exam table, and the tears would not stop coming down my face. The only thought I had was, “MY LIFE IS RUINED!”
I had recently moved in with my boyfriend (who is now my husband), just graduated from cosmetology school and was about to start my first career as a hairstylist. Having a baby was not part of my master plan. I was just trying to learn how to pay my rent!
After a few days of sitting in this new truth and telling everyone the news I had to make a choice. I could either look at this unexpected life event as something that would ruin me, or see it as an opportunity to build something new. I chose to look at it as my purpose to live.
People often say things like “Man, you have it all figured out.” or “How do you do it all?” When I hear those comments I can’t help but think, “if you only knew…” I carry on with life in this relentless manner because at 20 years old I was no longer just responsible for my own life. I became responsible for someone else’s. The concept scared me, but it also gave me purpose, drive, and the desire to live with purpose.
At first, it was really hard to be a young parent. I judged myself, and often felt like I was being judged by others for my tattoos, crazy colored hair, and having a baby in my arms when I still looked like a kid. And I definitely wasn’t the “traditional mom” you see painted over the media. It was also hard because none of my friends had kids, and my life was really different from theirs.
Eventually I realized that being different is a gift. That’s when life truly opened for me, and I felt a deep sense of belonging to myself. How people viewed me wasn’t as big of a concern to me anymore. Nearly 14 years later I look back at that time and think, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant I wouldn’t be the woman I am today!
Parenthood has taught me a lot of patience. It has also taught me how to look at life’s problems with a whole new lens, one that is playful, a characteristic I lacked at a young age.
Being a mom has also taught me how to be a servant leader — to nourish those around me with love and empathy, lift them up when they feel like their failing, and to give the right amount of tough love to motivate someone in the right direction. It’s also helped me realize good leaders don’t tell people what to do, instead they show them how to do something and walk alongside them.
Motherhood is frightening. It changes your lifestyle, your outlook in life, and takes over nearly ever facet of how you operate every single day — including that sacred alone time. But being a mother has taught me how to be a better leader and it has shown me how to deal with the relentless and unreasonable demands of life in the most graceful and reasonable way. It has taught me empathy and patience for others, but most importantly patience and empathy for myself.