Teen mom

“It was hard to come to school and leave her… But I have to, to have a better future for us.”

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Carmen Flores wakes up at 6:20 on mornings when there’s soccer practice.

The 17-year-old Sunset High School senior pulls everything together the night before, including a bag for her 2-year-old daughter, Amber, to take to the babysitter’s.

“It was hard to come to school and leave her,” Carmen says. “She still cries when I leave, but I have to, to have a better future for us.”

Carmen was a soccer standout, making the varsity squad as a freshman. But pregnancy and motherhood sidelined her sophomore and junior seasons; she returned to the field this year, when the team made it to district playoffs.

School was always Carmen’s thing. She likes math and wants to be a forensic accountant; she’s been offered several scholarships: $31,000 from Southern Methodist University, $20,000 from the University of North Texas at Dallas, $20,000 from the University of Texas at Arlington.

She’s leaning toward UNT-D, but she has a fear of driving after a car accident a couple of years ago and has never gotten a license.

“How am I going to get there?” she says. “What am I going to do with Amber?”

Those are questions that she will figure out with the help of supportive parents.

The baby of her family, Carmen says she was most disappointed in herself when she found out she was going to become a mother at age 15.

She says she doesn’t care that much about going out and socializing. She went to homecoming last fall, and she’ll probably go to the prom in May. Her complaints about parenting are the same as most people’s.

“Getting to take a peaceful shower. I can’t do it,” she says. “I have to wake up with her. I can’t take naps.”

Now that her daughter is a toddler, she’s had to learn to be firm but calm in moments of chaos.

If anything, having a child so young has motivated Carmen to work even harder than before.

“Every day when I wake up, I feel unmotivated,” she says. “But then I think about my future, and I think about how I am going to provide for my daughter.”