Sunday, 4 November 2012

I am young and I'm a Mum.

James and I on my 23rd birthday, 37 weeks pregnant.

Sometimes I feel like people look down at me, at us, because we had Oliver at societies idea of a young age.

I used to care. I used to care so much that I would cover my tattoos, take out my piercings and name drop Oliver’s, “father, my partner”, just so everyone would think I was good enough. 

Oliver always thought I was good enough.

I’m not going to pretend that sometimes I don’t wish for a night out, but when I have one I realise I’d rather be home. I’d much prefer a sleep in these days honestly. That’s what I miss most about pre-Mummy life.
Sometimes I wish I’d travelled more. I did a few months in Europe a few years ago; I’d love to do more. I will so more. Just not yet.
Sometimes I wish we’d had more money in the bank. The reality is we probably just would have had more things.

I thought I’d go back to work when Oliver was one. He is 14 months. I do a few nights of After School Care here and there. But I’m not ready to leave Oliver. I thought I was, but then I realised he only gets one childhood; I have my entire future to start a career. I don’t want to miss it.

A girl put up on Facebook the other day a status along the lines of ,“Thank god I’m 22 and not a Mum, here’s to enjoying my youth. “ I was a bit offended, but then I realised that I am enjoying my youth. I don’t need to ‘remind’ my friends on Facebook at how good my life is, because I know how good it is. I always wanted to be a Mum before 25. I always wanted to marry a tall dark and handsome man. I always wanted a dog. I always wanted to write.

After I complete my journalism degree at the end of THIS week, I can tick the final thing off the list. Okay, I’m not getting paid for it just yet but I am well on the way to achieving everything I wanted.

Some might say I’m living the dream.

Not your dream; my dream. And it’s wonderful. Not always easy, but wonderful.

I’ve been trying to put this into words for days, I didn’t want to come across as trying to justify that James and I are a responsible 24 year old couple. I just wanted to get a few things off my chest. Like how much Oliver was wanted, oh he was so wanted. The tears I shed over negative pregnancy tests the 12 months before we saw those beautiful double lines.

I don’t care if babies are planned or not. I think situations are what you make them and I know a lot of people who have made a surprise the best thing in their worlds.

Oliver surprised us because he took so long to come. But he was no accident.

I wanted to write about starting my career later in life and having a family first and why it works for us. Honestly, I don’t know if it will. It might not. I am a smart girl and James is a smart guy. We will always be able to put a roof over our baby’s heads and a meal on the table. I will always write. But the two might be unrelated.

I thought about single Mums, and how hard it is for them. But then I thought being a parent is hard. But it’s also the easiest thing you’ll ever do. You might think there is no possible way you can get out of bed, but then you’ll hear them cry and without a second thought there you are.
You might think you can’t deal with another tantrum, but they have one and you deal with it there and then- no thought of the past or future.  Just the present, and how you can make the present better.
Single parents are super heroes, but all of us parents are somebodies super hero.

The biggest issue I think we face as younger parents is finances. But money can’t buy you love. It can’t. I learnt this in my teen years. Money is nice, it's good to be comfortable but sacrificing too much of yourself to have the "best" in life is not worth it, not to me anyway.

Strangers have asked me if Oliver was planned. I used to give them an explanation; the whole back story. I haven’t been asked in ages. I wonder if it’s the rings on my finger or the confidence in my stride. I wish I could just say something witty like, “oh this one was, but his three older siblings weren’t.” I never could, I care too much.

I’ve had hundreds of strangers offer me advice. I thought it was my age. I’ve learnt its got nothing to do with my taught skin and buttocks (disclaimer: I have neither) but it happens to everyone. Mothers with older kids love to give unsolicited advice. Mother’s with young kids hate to hear it.

I was going to title this post I am not a young Mum, and it was going to be full of justifications I used to make to allow others to view us as responsible adults, purely because I’m sick of the stigma that goes with it. I know more older parents that go out regularly than younger, it doesn’t matter- it doesn’t reflect them as parents, it's just odd that society thinks young parents party all the time and leave their bubs with the grandparents. Thanks Teen Mom for that one.

 I am a young, and I am a Mum. I’m not a teenager, but who cares if I was. I am young, and I am a great Mum. Oliver doesn’t care how old I am, he doesn’t care if my skin is covered in tattoos or my face in piercings. All he cares is that when he needs me I will be there, and I will. Every time.


  1. You love your child, you do your best, that's all any of us can hope for. Fuck the naesayers, and their little dogs too. I have learned to challenge the thoughts (cognitive behavioural therapy) that we all have about others. So if you catch yourself thinking "But they'll think badly of me" you might then say "Yep, they might. So what? Will this affect me in any way?" The answer is, only if you choose to make yourself unhappy about it. It does not matter, at all, what others think, unless they are harming you in some way. Took me a long time to get that (I speak as an ancient 44 year old).

    I rarely offer advice - and certainly not on parenting - unless asked. We all know that in nearly every case if you offer unsolicited advice it will be ignored anyway, actually even solicited advice is mostly ignored - so why do people do it? Well, some people just like to flap their gums and be sanctimonious, they get pleasure out of making themselves believe they are better in some way. Fuck them too.

    Oh, and anybody who objects to the swearing - fuck you as well. Shakespeare and I both know that only the beige brigade actually believe the old chestnut about it being due to a lack of vocabulary. My vocabulary is excellent, my IQ high, my false humility at an all time low and, sometimes, a good swear word carries pith and moment. And, just for the record, there is no rule about getting to go through life un-offended. Feel free to be offended, I will feel free to not give a shit. I am offended by the smarmy bullshit of the beige folk every single day of my life. But it's their right to be twats, just as it's mine to ignore them.

    Anyway, I digress, a questionable talent of mine. Good luck with the parenting, sounds to me like you are doing fine.

    1. Thanks Alison. There will always be someone waiting there to knock you down, and sometimes the only one who can help you up is you. I am learning this. I am also trying to stop explaining myself because most of the people I speak of have already made up their opinions on me, and all I am doing is lowering myself to their standards.

      As for the swearing, I'd love to join in but the husband and I have started a swear jar- the loser has to pick up the dog poo. I'm not keen on that. The reason being is my 14 month old has been copying our words and well... yeah. We all make mistakes as parents. As long as we love them and do the best we can, we are doing okay.

      The hardest thing we are going through at the moment is the public temper tantrum. I had a lady school me on how to react to it as my 14 month old is 'almost two and would understand her long winded disciplinary sentence.' We have our system, it seems to be working, but it involves a lot of letting it play out and ignoring him. It doesn't go down so well in public but thats not my concern, my concern is teaching my son not to be sad or angry every time he can't have what he wants.

      Oh well. Thanks for your very honest and blunt response, I love it.

  2. My mum had my brother Matthew when she was sixteen,without anybody to guide or or to tell her she was doing a good job. She used to be spat on by people who were crossing the street, and it's only now in her 50s she has said that she was a good Mother because she did the best job that she could. And she wouldn't trade it for the world

    You wouldn't trade Oliver for the world. I think you both are wonderful parents and will continue to be.

  3. This is something that really gets on my nerves, because I cop a similar attitude from people when I tell them that I don't want kids. Whether you want to have kids or not, whether you want them at age 20 or 35, it's a completely personal decision and I don't know why people think we need to justify this to them. Even if Oliver was unplanned, that is no one else's business and by no means does it make you any less competent of a mother.

    For what it's worth, I wouldn't read too much into your friend's Facebook status. I know I'm happy that I don't have a kid too, but it certainly doesn't mean I look down on people who do, or think that they're missing out on living their lives. I love and respect your decision to start a family young.