There’s something I’ve always been a little self conscious about ever since I had Alea. I’ve got the awkward questions at the grocery store, asking if I was Alea’s babysitter and the perplexed expressions when I tell people how old Alea is and how old I am. It used to really, really bother me and I felt like I was constantly explaining myself. But for what? I don’t owe those people anything. I’m a mom… just like any other mom.
I may be younger than a lot of moms, but that doesn’t make me less of a mom.
In some respects, I like to think that it’s made me a better mom.
You see, I’ve been extremely critical of literally everything I’ve done in this motherhood journey of mine. Being a young mom, I’ve always felt the need to prove others wrong and show them that being a young mom doesn’t define me or my mothering abilities.
1. I don’t go out: I see so many younger mom’s who still make partying a priority and to that I honestly just roll my eyes. Going out and drinking was always the last thing on my mind. Why would I do that when I can have even more fun at home playing blocks, legos and reading and snuggling my sweet little girl? Being a mom is just so much more important to me.
2. I can still achieve my dreams: And I have. I took 1 year off of school after I had Alea, but thanks to the help of Cory, I was able to get right back in the saddle, finish my generals and then also finish my associates degree in nursing in December of 2013.
3. I can still live my dreams: While being a stay-at-home-mom is wonderful, I didn’t want to give up my dream of becoming a nurse. And I haven’t! Yes that means Alea is in daycare during the week, but working to take care of Alea and my family is so important to me and living my dream of a nurse is so important to me as well.
4. We’re not broke: Cory worked his butt off to support me through nursing school, but that doesn’t mean we’re slaves to debt or live off the system. We bought a house when Alea was 6 months old and still rocked it when Cory got laid off for a couple months. And trust me, we had the option to receive government assistance then, but we said no. Thankfully while Cory was working, we put lots of money into savings. We lived off some savings + unemployment until he found another job. Not to shame anyone who receives government assistance, it’s just a common misconception that all young mothers receive government assistance.
5. I’m still with Alea’s dad: I hate that question more than any other question. When I tell people I’m newly married and Alea’s four and a half, I know they can do the math. It’s really not that hard. I just love the look on their face after they’ve done the simple addition and subtraction in their head and I know they’re immediately judging me. “And you married her dad?” Yes, yes I did. Is that so hard to believe?
6. Yes, I got pregnant at 19: Along with the simple math that allows them to discover I had a child ::gasp:: out of wedlock, there’s also the look of surprise when people ask how old I am and realize I got pregnant at 19 and had Alea when I was 20. And they’re judging me all over again.
7. I rarely get a babysitter: Alea didn’t even stay overnight at grandma’s house until she was three-years-old. I literally go out of my way to make sure I spend as much time as I can with my child. I don’t just dump my child with whoever and whomever and for whatever.
I realize this is a bit of a rant, but I seriously wish I could scream this from the rooftops. I know no matter what I do or what I say, that judgment will always be there. It’s not going to go away. I just need to rise above those judgments and show them that I’m an awesome mom. Because I am.
I am NOT a statistic.
I’m no less of a mother than a mom who decides to start a family after 3 years of marriage at the age of 27. I’m not your average young mom. Having a child after getting married or later in life doesn’t make you a better mom and having a child unmarried and at a younger age doesn’t make you less of a mom. And I hate that no matter how old I am, no matter how old Alea is and no matter how many children I have in the future, that “young mom” stigma still stands.
I’m a damn good mother and I always will be. I may have gotten pregnant at 19 and had my first (precious, sweet + beautiful) baby girl at 20, but I’ve been the best mom I can be ever since. Next time you’re talking to someone and they reveal that they, too, are a young mom or you see a young looking mother at the grocery store, think before you judge.
That young mom could be me.