I felt I needed to pen something to all you young Mother’s because in some cases there still seems to be a stigma out there regarding those of you who have had their children young. There is still that old age opinion in this country that people who have children should be married first, there are still those who believe that some women get pregnant on purpose to ‘scrounge’ off benefits and there are others who believe that a woman should have a career first and do things in the ‘right order’. There is also the opinion that we should all wait until we are ready… (I can laugh at this now as I know none of us are ever ready for what parenthood has in store!)
It’s easy to see why some think this way due to previous methods of raising a family and I for one can say that I have had some of these thoughts in the past also. Different eras have been brought up in differing ways and of course, each generation has its differing stereotypes, issues of that time and their idea of how to live in the most ‘socially acceptable’ way.
I was brought up at a time when my parents and friend’s parents were married and already owned their homes. I had older Grandparents who held very old fashioned values and these were taught to all of us. During the 90’s there really were young girls talking about leaving school and saying that their main ambition in life was to get pregnant and be given a 3 bedroom house – yes, this did actually happen! I was also all for being an independent woman and thinking that other girls/women should have the same drive to work hard and work at a career for themselves before settling down. My mindset was in place due to my upbringing.
I did work towards a career throughout my early 20’s and children were far from my mind. I did buy a house, then got married and then had a baby. I thought this was the right order to do things and the sensible order. I was 31 when I had Jake.
I can tell you honestly now that I take back all I ever thought about young Mums.
Having a baby to get a house may have been something young girls did years ago but nowadays you would be crazy to think this would work. With benefits being cut and housing at an all-time low, you would be lucky to get a bedsit. Times have changed and having a baby now does not mean you get everything handed to you on a plate.
I was naive about what having a baby was really all about. Working in a shop I would constantly see young Mums shopping, meeting friends and going for coffees. I looked at them and thought they had such a simple life, such an easy life and I envied the fact that they didn’t ‘work’ when I was doing 40+ hours a week. I assumed they had babies so they could continue to not work and to claim their benefits… I made all these assumptions just by looking at them for a few moments.
I didn’t really think about how tough it was to raise a child because I had absolutely no experience of this. I didn’t think about how Mums never got time off, had a break, got plenty of sleep because, again, I literally had no clue. Having not been around many babies I only had the media’s perception portrayed through TV and films, and this of course never showed the reality of the ins and outs of being a parent. How many shows saw a baby being placed in a playpen and not make a sound, how many Mums looked immaculate and not at all tired and made looking after a child seem like a breeze?!
I mentioned that I had my son at the age of 31 and this is a very important point, because do you know what? I am tired. I am so bloody tired all the time and the reason is not only because I have an energetic toddler but it is also because I am no longer 21! No one can prepare you for the changes your body goes through from your teens to your 30’s. You know people say they go out less as they get older but you kinda think this is due to money, having work the next day or not feeling the need to go out. NO, it’s because they are bloody shattered and need to be in bed by ten! At 21 I could party all weekend, not get a hangover, not need an early night and still have the energy to work all week. At 31 I drag my butt out of bed, I curse if my boy wakes in the night and by mid afternoon I am crying out for a nap (never happens by the way!) I assumed that the newborn part was the most tiring and as he and I both got older it would all get easier. WRONG! He is now more active, he does not nap and he is like the f**king Duracell bunny!! I am now 33 and even more tired than before. I am trying to get all the chores done, trying to balance activities with meal times and routine and am still being woken at night. I now look at young Mums and I am jealous for all new reasons. They have the energy I desire and along with this energy, they also have the patience and a calmer nature. Do you know how ratty you get when you are this tired?! I’m not saying every day is like this but I know sure as hell that if I was ten years younger I would have fewer days feeling quite so drained.
A career can come at any time. More courses are available online, jobs are no longer age discriminate and once the children are grown up you can really focus on what occupation you want and work hard towards it without other distractions. Babies do not end the possibility of future careers. Yeah so money may be tight when you are younger as you don’t have that fancy job to support you BUT money is tight at any time of having a child. They do not stop eating and growing and wanting things! I am constantly watching money just as any of these younger Mother’s are, there is no difference here.
Year’s ago it was the done thing to get married young and start a family. It was acceptable and also encouraged for women to find the perfect husband and have a baby. The only difference with this picture today, in most cases, is the lack of marriage. A young Mother may not be married but some people can go their whole lives with a partner and never marry so we need to stop looking down upon those who decide to start a family without first having a certificate and a ring, if ever.
A young Mother has all the access to the baby friendly activities that older Mothers do. A young Mother is doing just as good as a job as a Mother of any other age and is possibly doing it better because they don’t tire as easily.
I personally know of some young Mums who have received ‘looks’ in the street, who have had comments from people they know and who have family members who cannot accept the fact they have decided to have a baby – whether it was planned or not. It is for no one else to judge and just because you are young or just happen to look younger than you actually are, it does not mean you are not cut out for raising a baby. I do not see any babies going without, I do not see immaturity in these girls or see them struggling any more than the rest of us. I see babies with loving Mother’s, who want them, who care for them and who are doing a fab job and whose praises should be sung. They should not be looked down upon due to outdated stereotypes.
So this is my apology to all of you who I may have secretly judged in the past. This is my shout out to everybody who is doing an amazing job. This is me saying well done young Mums as sometimes it just isn’t said enough and just so you know, you probably have your shit together a lot better than me!