Name: Melissa Rodriguez
Hometown: New Haven, Conn.
Current city: Orange, N.J.
Occupation: Customer service representative
“I just started my life. I just started to go to school, I just started working, and I just didn’t have anything settled yet.”
In 1996, after 12 years living in the foster care system, Melissa recorded a diary about getting pregnant and becoming a mother. She was trying to straddle life as a teenager with the coming responsibilities of parenthood. When Issaiah was born, she struggled to create a more stable family than she’d experienced as a child. “I’m the keeper,” she said. “When I hold him, I just feel, you know, important to him.”
Melissa’s son is a teenager. She and Issaiah have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to his serious health issues. Now, she shares her teenage diary with him and reveals things about her past that she’s never mentioned.
On recording her teen audio diary:
“I recorded it because I had a lot on my mind, and it made me feel better when I talked about it. When you talk about it, those thoughts and those feelings kind of fade away a little bit, kinda make you understand the situation you’re in.”
Produced for All Things Considered by Joe Richman of Radio Diaries, edited by Deborah George, Ben Shapiro and Sarah Kate Kramer.