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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Commentator Cassandra Gonzalez of Youth Radio knows all about life as a baby mama.

CASSANDRA GONZALEZ:

A couple of years ago, a whole bunch of my friends starting having babies. Most of us are single, young moms and many of us were teen-agers when our babies were born. The few friends who have their babies' dads around are in unhealthy relationships. But most of our babies' dads aren't around anymore. For instance, my friend Sheila, Sheila got pregnant with her son when she was 16.

SHEILA (Teen Mom): I'm all alone in this. It's very tiring. Nobody wants to help me with anything. I have to find an apartment, get back into school, and everything's a struggle and all the stress just gets to me sometimes.

GONZALEZ: Like a lot of our friends, Sheila and I were straight party animals before we got pregnant. But imagine just hitting the legal age of independence from curfew and nagging parents, doing whatever you want and all of a sudden you have a baby.

(Soundbite of a door slamming)

GONZALEZ: Come on, baby, let's go. You look so cute.

SAVANNAH (Cassandra's Daughter): Ba ba.

GONZALEZ: Oh, OK, here.

Of course, I love my daughter Savannah, but some of my friends and I have decided we just have to keep going out just to keep from going crazy. We go to clubs, to bars, but most of the time it requires too much energy. It's either no baby-sitter, no time or no money.

(Soundbite of a ringing phone)

GONZALEZ: Michelle.

Michelle is a good example.

MICHELLE: (On the phone) This weekend?

SAVANNAH: Ba ba

GONZALEZ: Yeah.

SAVANNAH: Ba ba, Mommy.

MICHELLE: (On the phone) Where do we do it?

GONZALEZ: I want to go to the Arc the Bow(ph) concert.

SAVANNAH: Mama.

MICHELLE: Oh, no.

SAVANNAH: Mom.

GONZALEZ: Why?

MICHELLE: Because I don't want to pay money for that ticket.

GONZALEZ: It's only $25.

MICHELLE: You know what I could do with $25?

GONZALEZ: What?

MICHELLE: Buy my daughter some diapers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GONZALEZ: I just turned 21. I want to go out, but sometimes I just can't. Like one time, I was leaving to go out with my friends and my grandma agreed to watch my daughter. So as I was leaving, she brings my screaming daughter to the door and yells out to the whole neighborhood, `What kind of mother are you?' I pulled my car back in the driveway and stayed home.

Unidentified Woman: (Cassandra's Grandmother): My complaint is that she goes out every night and comes up at 4:00 in the morning. I have to stay with Savannah all day and all night, taking care of Savannah, and I'm a 71-year-old lady.

GONZALEZ: But the truth is, Grandma, I don't go out every night. How could I? I have two jobs and I go to school.

Unidentified Woman: I love to see Cassandra coming from work, going to bed with her daughter and let her grandma have peace at night.

GONZALEZ: And what am I supposed to stay home for the rest of my life and collect welfare or what?

Unidentified Woman: No. I don't mean you cannot go out with your friends once in a while. I'm not talking about that.

GONZALEZ: Get over it. Even my psychotherapist says you have to make time for yourself and go out or you might end up resenting your life and your child, and it might lead to depression, like what Sheila's been going through.

SHEILA: Before, when I used to have fights with my mom or I'd be so frustrated I'd just leave into the street, go with the homies or something, but I can't do that now and I feel very, very frustrated and just break down and cry sometimes.

GONZALEZ: I have more options because despite my grandma's objections, I still go out. But most of my friends don't have that luxury. If they did, it wouldn't be so complicated for us to enjoy our youth together once in a while and still be good mothers.

MONTAGNE: Commentator Cassandra Gonzalez has just received her associate degree in Los Angeles. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio. Her thoughts on being a young parent as well as Fantasia's song, "Baby Mama" are at npr.org.

(Soundbite from "Baby Mama")

Ms. BARRINO: (Singing) Here is your song. Show love to my B-A-B-Y M-A-M-A. This goes out to all my baby mamas, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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