Oh, hello there. It’s me. You know- that person you encounter at your child’s extracurricular event, sitting on the sidelines with the rest of the parents. You know-the one you pass by in the halls at the parent teacher conferences. The one at the park playing catch with my kid. That’s right, MY kid. I know what you’re thinking. You thought I was the older sister or perhaps the nanny. I could see it in your eyes, even if you weren’t as bold as some people to inquire about the relationship status. You were trying to figure out just how we were. . .well. . .why we were. . .umm. . . Oh dear, this is awkward. It’s okay. I get it a lot. Just to reiterate, I’m not the older sister, I’m not the aunt, I’m not even the nanny. I’m the mom! The very proud mom to be exact.
You see, I came into this whole motherhood situation at a less conventional age, per today’s standards, of a youthful 20 years old. And that my friends makes me (drumroll, please), The Young Mom! Hi. How do you do? Now that we’re fully acquainted, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m just like any other mom. Yup, it’s true. However, as The Young Mom, I experience some things that I’m sure other moms do not.
Allow me to elaborate. My experiences as The Young Mom can be summed up into three perspectives.
- Other people’s perspectives.
- My perspective.
- My child’s perspective.
Stick with me here as I delve a bit deeper into how each of these perspectives relate to my experience as The Young Mom.
As a young mom, I am constantly battling people’s preconceived notions of what a mom should look like. This began as early as the moment when my little baby bump became a quite noticeable BIG baby bump. At the time of my first pregnancy I was a college student studying visual arts at my hometown university. I was pretty hard to miss when I was in my third trimester. Amongst the crowds of backpack slinging teenagers and early 20-somethings rushing to their next class there I was, a very pregnant young woman waddling along through the masses. While they were thinking about going out with their friends later that night, I was worried about swollen feet, OB-GYN appointments and setting up a nursery. Being stared at and whispered about was a very common occurrence for me during this time. I didn’t look like the typical mom and it was duly noted by those around me.
I’d like to say that the funny stares and whispers stopped once my little bundle made an appearance and I was no longer “that pregnant girl in class.” Instead of plodding along through the crowds of students with my baby bump, I was now strolling along with babe in tow. When gracious family members weren’t helping us babysit our little man while my husband and I were attempting to both get our undergraduate degrees, we’d take turns bringing him to the on-campus daycare. Cue college-aged mama stigma. Luckily, I was too busy being focused on the boy I was head-over-heels in love with. The boy who would one day call me mama.
Over the years, I’ve come to terms with having my motherhood questioned. Sometimes it’s outright. Other times it’s more subtle. I really can’t recall how many times I’ve been asked if I was my son’s older sister. It’s happened that frequently. It’s especially amusing when I’m out with my mom and people assume she’s the mom of my kids. It’s so commonplace for people to be shocked that I have teenager that it really doesn’t surprise me anymore.
This is where my perspective about being The Young Mom comes into play. Battling the stigma of being a young mom has actually made me a stronger. I used to be worried about what people thought about me and how they might judge my life. Over time I learned to ignore my haters. They really didn’t know anything about me or my life. What mattered more was what the people I loved knew about me. They knew and still know that I fiercely love my children and strive to be the best mama I can be. Nowadays, my family and I giggle at the absurdity of the comments we get from some people.
And this is where my child’s perspective of me comes into play. Although I have three beautiful children, I am mostly referring to my firstborn’s perspective. He’s the one who, like me, has to constantly deal with the questions. Not only did he grow up hearing people question me, he also had to deal with people asking him if I was really his mom. “Is that your big sister?” “That’s your MOM?!” “That can’t be true.” We’ve heard every variation of this. If you’ve been one of these questioning people, don’t worry. We find it amusing. My husband and I are pretty open to talking about this topic with our son. We talk about being young parents and how he feels about having young parents. Believe it or not, he thinks it’s pretty cool. And that’s saying a lot because, well, he’s a teenager. To him, I’m usually toeing the line of being uncool.
Honestly, I love being The Young Mom. However, sometimes being The Young Mom can be tough. Sometimes it can be lonely. Finding a kindred spirit aka another young mom with kids in the same stages was always a challenge for me. When I was a college student I didn’t have time to go out with my peers. I was too busy mom-ing and trying to get homework done. When my kids were older, it still felt hard relating to my peers who were in the midst of kid-free life. With time, I’ve been lucky enough to find mom-friends in all different stages of life. They help encourage me in different ways and I look for ways that I can encourage them, too.
Just remember, if you see a young mom, don’t judge her. She’s a mom just like you. Regardless of what age she was when she joined the sisterhood. And go ahead, be her friend. We all could benefit from knowing mamas with different perspectives and different experiences.