I was a week and a half late for my period. I wasn’t worried about it, but Milton insisted I buy a pregnancy test. Annoyed, I spent the $15 to get him to stop pestering me. I grabbed a test on my way to school and stopped at the library bathroom before Spanish class to pee on said stick. Two pink lines. Nope. Nope. Nope. I ditched class and drove around looking for a walk in clinic hoping to find a doctor who would tell me that I wasn’t pregnant, and the test was a false positive. I found a doctor, but he only confirmed what the test told me – you’re pregnant.
Pregnant at 20? What a disgrace! I was horribly embarrassed. I hid my stomach as long as I could. My biology teacher cried when I told her . . . And not tears of joy. My growing belly eventually became too big to hide. And as it did, the inappropriate comments from strangers came rolling in. “Aren’t you too young to have kids”? Or my favorite from a cashier in Home Depot, “My daughter is responsible and wants to finish school; she would never have a baby so young.”
After my daughter was born, I struggled with feeling too young to relate to my ‘mom friends,’ while having less and less in common anymore with my pre-children peer circles.
700 years and two more kids later, I don’t consider myself a ‘young mom’ anymore. My peers are getting married and having babies now. And I usually forget that I’m technically considered a ‘young mom’ for my kindergartner, and for having three kids.
Even with our overly active fertility, we did everything society expected of us: got married, finished our degrees, obtained ‘respectful’ careers, and bought a house in a nice suburban HOA community. As we continued down the rabbit hole of status quo, people questioned our age less and treated us with respect. We made our families proud, and we saved face for that whole unplanned pregnancy thing.
However as we have accumulated these ‘milestones,’ we became less and less satisfied with what life had become. And now, as we choose to walk away from those worldly comforts – renting our house and seriously downsizing, leaving our careers and perusing less stressful work – the age card comes blazing to the front of the deck yet again.
Looking at two bedroom apartments with our three kids two dogs raised a few eyebrows and more inappropriate comments. Our desire for something different changed the perception of our family. People no longer regarded us as the awesome young couple that beat the odds, even though we were the same people. Once again, society viewed us as reckless kids who need to get their lives together. While I fully admit to being a frequent flyer of the hot mess express, I can’t help but roll my eyes laugh at the questions about my age because I now see that the bus is packed full of moms of all ages and walks of life.
Perception is such a funny thing.
I had many challenges and made many mistakes as a young mother – some small, some huge. And while many of my mistakes are unique to my situation, and my age, I am confident that had I waited 5, 10, 15, 20 years to have kids I would have been faced with a whole separate set of challenges and made a whole different string of messy mistakes. Acting like age has some magical barring on my ability to parent is almost as ridiculous as pretending that buying a three bedroom house with a fenced yard has the same power. I am the same flawed mom I have always been, and no matter when I pledged the sorority of motherhood, I am confident I would still mess up, daily.