17 Full of Possibilities

by Migdalia Rivera

karl-rivera-17_Latina-on-a-mission17 is full of possibilities.

My son, you are more than I could ever have imagined. As a single mother, I feared you. Raising a child was not what I expected to be doing at 22. You interrupted my life. It seemed so full on the outside. But it was all a facade.

Having you made me realize what true love really was. The fairy tales had it wrong. Prince Charming and I would not live happily ever after. That was not true love. True love was pulling all nighters with an asthmatic child. It was watching you struggle and holding my breath till you drew yours. True love was not a fairy tale. It was my baby child.

As you grew, so did I.

We attended college together. I at 25, with my little boy by my side.

It amazes me still to see you now. You are my “Manchild in the Promised Land”. And, poverty did not hold you down.

17 is invincible.

As a child, you told me, you were scared to walk ahead. You wanted me to stay by your side. You said, “Don’t leave me Mommy. I don’t want to be alone.” I recall holding you tight and whispering, “I’m right beside you.”

Now the years have passed, and you, my son, have grown. At 17, you graduated from high school, started a new journey, and moved several miles from home.

17 marked the year of invincibility. You were no longer scared to walk alone.

17 is fearless.

“Fear was the number one immobilizer of potential; fear of failure, fear of being too much or too little… just fear across the board. I saw it freeze people, I felt it freeze me.” – Karl Rivera

At 17, you learned that lacking fear does not make one courageous, the ability to face it does. And so you faced it head on. Accepting new adventures, you started a house in college called LIFE, an acronym for Leadership & Innovation Fuel Empowerment.

Leading by example, you have shown me and others that 17 is more than just 17 birthdays.

17 is a milestone.

Let’s talk! What do you recall most about being 17? Share it in a comment below! Added benefit, EVERY comment provides a vaccine for a child so that they can reach a milestone of their own.

This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost effective ways to save the lives of children in the world’s hardest to reach places.

During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives!

Sign up HERE for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

About the Author

Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

{ 236 comments… read them below or add one }

101 WSW August 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm

This gives me great encouragement for what our boys can aspire to. Thank you!

102 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm

You are very welcome WSW!

103 Ceci G August 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I can only imagine how hard it is to be a single mom in New York City. But this is a wonderful essay. Thank you!

104 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Ceci G Thankfully, I had a lot of support in the neighborhood. From the bodega owner to our neighbors, there were so many people watching out for him. Community is so important.

105 Nick & Annette August 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Great kid! Great post! Go Shot@Life!

106 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Nick & Annette Shot@Life is AMAZING!

107 pingram August 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Very well said – you have a gift with words.

108 Kathy August 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Wonderful look at how it feels to watch you child grow into adulthood. The sadness and excitement of watching them move on. Thanks, this is beautiful.

109 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Kathy You’re right. It can be hard and I will admit I cried like a baby!

110 Don Wilkerson August 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Your post brings up memories of my own 17th year–excitement, hope, eagerness to get going in college but also fear about the unknown and anxiety about choosing what to do in life.

111 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Don Wilkerson 17 was such a year of wonder and change. Watching it gave me so much joy and hope!

112 Suzanne August 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm

always loved following the story of your family! Yay for vaccines!
Suzanne recently posted..Instant Gratification with eBay Now

113 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Suzanne And vice versa! :) Thanks for providing a child in need with a vaccine!

114 Jeff Jolliff August 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Lovely. Nicely written.

115 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Thx Jeff for your comment and for providing a child in need with a vaccine!

116 Celia August 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Beautiful! Thanks Migdalia, and Walgreens.

117 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Thank you Celia for your comment and for providing a child in need with a vaccine!

118 Margaret Denn August 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm

1954 was a BIG year for me. I was 17. In January, I married my high school sweetheart, who was going into the Air Force. After a two day honeymoon to the Oregon coast, he was off to basic training in San Antonio. I was left to care for my mother’s house in Camas Valley until early May, when she and I packed my household goods into my Plymouth and headed for Amarillo, so I could join my husband. One morning, we made the mistake of starting out too early from a motel we had stayed in east of Durango, Colorado. Snow had fallen during the night and the snowplow had not yet come through. My mother was driving. As we were crossing a high filled in place in the highway, a car coming toward us began to skid and hit my car on the left rear fender, just enough to spin us a quarter turn and send us sliding nose first down the steep bank. The car came to a stop at the bottom of the ravine. Neither my mother nor I were hurt. Only my dishes were broken to smithereens. We had to stay in Durango for four days while my car was being fixed. My husband joined us there and we drove on to Amarillo without further incident.
I was on my own with my new husband in a garage apartment behind the landlord’s house. I had to learn how to cook. My greatest culinary success was the Swiss steak that I made in the pressure cooker that I’d received as a shower gift. I made it for the very first time for another airman and his wife. It was delicious.
In September, my son was born. I labored for 36 hours and he weighed in at over ten pounds. I had no idea how to care for a newborn. I had to take care of him in the hospital when he was just 24 hours old. He was full of mucous and I had to keep suctioning him out every little bit. I prayed that he’d live until I could get him home, so my mom, who had come back to Amarillo shortly after he was born, could show me how to take care of him. Then, a couple of month’s later my husband received orders that he was being sent overseas. We loaded up my car and a U Haul trailer with all our belongings and with our baby and headed for Oregon.
My husband left for Germany. So, again I was at my mother’s house in Camas Valley. Right back where I started from. I thought that I had experienced the most exciting year of my whole life.

119 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Margaret Denn I love how full 17 was for you! It’s amazing how much change and possibility can come at this age. :)

Thank you for your comment and for providing a vaccine to a child in need!

120 Sarah August 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for supporting childhood vaccines! Beautiful post.

121 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Sarah And thank YOU for providing a vaccine with your comment!

122 debbie August 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Our children amaze me. How did they become so grown?

123 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Debbie It seems surreal, doesn’t it?

124 Nancy Mikelsons August 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Ms. Latina’s piece about her son is beautiful and full of the caring and love that has
given this young man 17 years of love and respect and attention.

I remember at 17 I was getting ready to graduate from high school and was not
able to go to the college of m y choice because both my parents were desperately
ill that year, It was a difficult and complicated time but I survived and so did
both of my parents for many more years. MS. Latina, hats off to you!

125 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Nancy Mikelsons I’m so glad you had the opportunity to be there with your parents and to go to college too! My hope is that each comment here will give a child a vaccine that will enable them to have hope and a full future as well!

126 Connie August 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm

It is young men like your son with a mother like you who give me hope for the future! I can see why you are so proud of him and I’m sure he’s proud of you!

127 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Thank you Connie for your kind words and for providing a vaccine for a child in need!

128 cheryl August 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I remember 17, I was a mom and worked overnights. I was determined to do it all for my little girl. What we think we know, and what we do know. Yes fear of failing was not in my view. I am so thankful for my girls, and would not trade a day. Now I have grandbabies and 17 is right around the corner. My eldest grandchild is 9. wow. thank you, and thanks to shot@life

129 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Cheryl Children are such a blessing! I hope you enjoy your grandbabies’ 17th year as much, or more, thn you enjoyed your own!

130 Edith Coleman August 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm

There is nothing more noble than to successfully raise a child.

131 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Edith Coleman Words to live by.

132 Rebecca August 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm

This story was incredibly touching. Your son sounds like a remarkable young man!

133 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Rebecca Thank you for your sweet words and for providing a vaccine with your comment!

134 Tamara August 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Great post, thanks!

135 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Tamara Thank YOU for reading and for providing a child with a vaccine!

136 Rick and family August 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm

What a beautiful relationship you and your son have. You are both blessed to have each other and we wish you every health and happiness possible.

137 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Rick and family Thank you Rick. He really is a blessing – and so is my tween. My life changed when I had them… all for the better. :)

138 Diana August 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

you’re right– The real prince charmings that melt our mama hearts are those cute little boys who drive us crazy but who we love to death!
Diana recently posted..Dear Parents: I’m sorry I judged

139 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Diana YES! When they smile it makes our hearts melt!

140 pauline August 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

One comment. One vaccine. Done. And proud to know you. Your son is amazing because you are.
pauline recently posted..A Text Message to My Mother

141 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Pauline Thanks for your comment and for providing a vaccine to a child in need. (And, for your sweet words as well!)

142 Dave Gardner August 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Wonderfully inspirational story. I remember reading Manchild From The Promised Land when I was in college. It took my breath away. Thanks for sharing your story so magnificently.

143 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Dave Gardner It was one of my fave books! He inspired me considerably. And, thank you for your comment – it will provide a child with a vaccine :)

144 Dayne August 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I left home at 17 and other than a couple of stays due to illness, was on my own thereafter. It was such a pivotal time in me becoming who I am. I moved half a planet away and was forever changed. Thank you for creating the space for these important milestones to be measured.

145 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Dayne Inspiring! 17 really is a remarkable age. The unknown is not feared, at least not as adults fear. It’s full of possibilities. My hope is that more children will reach that age and I am so thankful #Blogust, Shot@Life and Walgreens are providing that opportunity.

146 Myrdin Thompson August 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I was on the phone tonight with my mother who comment how grown up and adult my 15 year old son sounded. Yet he still has a room filled with Legos and action figures…they are so caught on the edge of childhood yet we want them to be adult. I’m glad Shot@Life gives other families a chance to navigate these journeys. Thanks for sharing your story.

147 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Myrdin Thompson It’s true! Btw, I know a few men, who will go unmentioned here :), who still play with legos and action figures. Some things they never outgrow!

148 Carol August 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Thank you for sharing your son and his good work with us….

149 Migdalia Rivera August 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Carol Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment!

150 Amelia August 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Beautifully said! At 17 I was a mom. It amazes me today when I look at my 22 year old. We too grew up together. I swore at age 17 I knew what I was doing when I said I wanted a child. I must say although I was way too young it was the best choice I ever made. It has made me the woman I am today. It’s a wonderful feeling when you look at your grown kids and know you have done good. Even better feeling to hear my mom say I’ve done a great job, what she doesn’t know is I couldn’t have done it without her.
Migdalia, you are right. We don’t know what love is until we have children.

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