With a glitzy wedding ring on my finger sporting two children on my hip, I have never really caught too much judgment from strangers. I hear how others do, but personally, my days have been filled with the ladies who had 25 grandchildren telling me how blessed this time of my life is. Each one so fondly remembering their first little ones and excited to share their memories of new marriage.
It seems though when I look towards family members and peers that’s where the stones were thrown at both my husband and me. The years have adjusted everyone towards the thought (because babies don’t just go away), but it left me to think. There are a few things I wish people understood about young parents.
My kids weren’t a mistake.
My husband and I were only 19 when we conceived. Due to our age, everyone thought it was a lack of birth and personal control. It’s easy to believe that and I do not judge those who make the endless jokes. The fact of the matter is, I needed my kids young if I was ever personally going to excel in a career and as a mother (how I wanted to at least).
I wanted to have the flexibility to stay home with them without giving up much, as well as the strength and stamina to keep up with them to my best ability. I personally felt like I was ready to be a mother. No one else could feel how I felt in this moment; the certainty I had. It’s like I had never wanted anything else. The night we decided to conceive changed my life and gave me a healthy sense of purpose that I would have from this point forward.
People of all ages can accidentally conceive. Don’t discriminate on a couple based strictly on their age. Those who have known us all of our lives see us as rational thinkers who seek out every possibility yet will turn around and view our birth of our first child as a “trap”. Yes, the announcement may not be what you were expecting at this moment in their lives, but this decision was not yours to make. It is only made for two people; the parents. The decision to conceive can be a trying one, but a child could be the completion in life that they are missing.
Secondly, my kids didn’t alter any life plans.
My entire life I have spent years uncertain of my career path. I reached college and was weighed down by the amount of debt I could instantly get myself into. I didn’t know what major I wanted and everyone kept saying, “Experiment; you’ll figure it out.” Experiment? Who’s paying for this? Won’t that just take time and money away from this precious life? I’ve never just stumbled into my objective and I surely wasn’t going to spend years and thousands of dollars trying to do just that.
I withdrew my first semester of college without any regrets. I still don’t have any; I have no clue what degree I would have wanted or if I ever would have made a decision. All I know is I don’t have any crippling debt at the age of 24 and this was decided before my children. If I wanted to go back, I’d go back. I wouldn’t return until I find a career path that calls for it though and possibly pays for it.
This goes for my marriage as well. My husband and I had gone back and forth for eight years before settling down and deciding to build a family. The old saying, ” first comes love, then comes marriage..” became very hard to do in a generation that is very anti-marriage and at an age where we financially just were scraping by. My husband didn’t do a fancy proposal; we didn’t even have a real ring until the night before the wedding.
Friends and family repeatedly questioned our decision, because they all disagreed with the institution of marriage or thought it was “for the wrong reasons”. Their agony through our wedding ruined it for us. We just wanted an evening to celebrate our love for one another, but due to the bun in my oven… The integrity of our special night was in question by almost everyone who came or didn’t come.
It’s sad that we all say women can do anything, but when one becomes pregnant we question her ability to decide anything rationally. A young parent’s decision is based off what they believe is best for them. Your opinion has no place here, but there’s always room for support.
My kids did not change who I am.
I’ve been told by nineteen-year-olds that they were surprised I’m a mother. I’ve been told by other mothers that they are shocked at how young I am compared to how I act. If someone doesn’t know my age, they don’t know the difference. Why? My children do not define who I am.
I love them very much and they do take up alot of my time, but I will always be growing as an individual just as they are always growing. I hope to inspire them to always be true and confident in their self. If this means occasional nights out or a momcation, then be it. I have not stopped trying to be a better me. I will never stop, because my kids deserve to know me, not a mombie.
If you have a loved one who is about to be a young parent, please do not instantly label them as irresponsible, incapable, and irrational. Talk to them without judgment. Find out what you can do to help emotionally support them and most importantly, believe in them. This person is no different than the person you loved before. They just have a little more to love.
Here’s to an entire family that learns and grows together. It’s the best type (for baby, parent, and you)!