Tlohon-nipts senior Kelly Bateman balances motherhood, school

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I><BR>Kelly Bateman, who gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Caydence Michelle last week, will be graduating Tlohon-nipts on June 10.

LONG BEACH - Kelly Bateman didn't expect to have children until she was older, at least 25 or 26 years old. She dreamed of having her education out of the way, owning a house and car, having money in place. But things didn't work out that way.

"It's all coming at me at once, but I guess that's life," she said recently.

Bateman was supposed to graduate last year but due to some issues in her home life she ended up moving out of her home, eventually moving five times during her senior year. She re-enrolled over the summer at Ilwaco High School, where she had attended previously, but after her first semester this year she found that she was pregnant and had to transfer to Tlohon-nipts.

"It's sort of been a roller coaster ride for me," she said. "But I think I've been staying focused on my future plans."

This is the positive attitude that Bateman keeps with her as she prepares to graduate and begin a new life as a mother.

On this day, Bateman is visiting Tlohon-nipts for the first time since giving birth to her daughter Caydence Michelle a couple of days before. She was also preparing to go to California to see her boyfriend Zack Graff, and father of her daughter, graduate from Marine Corps boot camp.

"We've been dating for over a year," she said.

She said that as of now, she plans to enroll at Clatsop Community College in the fall, going for her degree in counseling, eventually working toward a doctorate. Her boyfriend will likely be stationed in California, so her permanent residence is in question.

"We're talking about it (living closer), but nothing final yet," she said.

Bateman said that she thinks having a baby has changed her for the good, as she quit smoking and partying, saying, "I feel like I'm more mature and I make better decisions."

She said she has also opened up a bit more to Graff's family, whom she now lives with - Graff's mother was even her birthing coach.

As for her family plans, Bateman said she's unsure if she will end up marrying Graff or not, something his parents have asked them to take their time with.

"I think that's a smart idea because you should not get married just because you have a baby with someone," she said. "That's the wrong idea. I'm just trying to take it slow."

As for her future, Bateman said she is both excited and scared.

"I'm excited that I'm finally graduating," she said. "It was a while but I did it. I'm happy that I went through it all and finally completed it and got my diploma rather than a GED."

But she said that excitement is tempered the fear of a future that is uncertain in many ways too.

"I'm scared about the future because I don't know what it holds yet," she said. "Everything is still up in the clouds."

But from up in the clouds Bateman has a good view of the things she's headed towards.

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