Motherhood is an All Ages Show

*Updated*

These days most couples wait until they have kids. They wait until their careers are established and their homes are owned. They wait until they can afford a safe, comfortable car and around here (Los Angeles) a few hundred thou in the bank. They wait until they're successful, emotionally mature: ready.

And it makes sense. To wait. But some of us didn't. Some of us don't. Some of us got pregnant unexpectedtly and were like "fuck! I'm fucked! What the fuck?" And then were like "fuck it! I'm going to DO this. I'm going to have this baby in a one bedroom apartment with a dude I just met and make it WORK Goddamnit!"

Or... "fuck it! I'm just going to DO this on my own! Without the dude because I CAN ROCK this motherhood thing alone."

And they did. They rocked it. Are rocking it. Will continue to rock it. Young moms raising amazing kids on their own. Young moms raising kids with a mate... And yet? The age thing? The fact that homes aren't owned and cars aren't luxury and careers aren't secure is confusing to some. For those who waited. Because when I was your age, I was in no place to have a child. No way.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that? I'd be parking my luxury SUV in the driveway of my fancy estate. No joke.

The isolation that comes with new Motherhood is standard. It doesn't matter who you are or what you own or whether you're raising a child as a single mom in her teens or a happily married mother in her forties. And yet, we purposefully block one another and push each other away, condescend upon and judge. Patronizing young moms, labeling them "incapable" and "irresponsible"... Disrespecting teen mothers sometimes to their faces, calling them "bad influences" ... isolating them even more than they are, as new, young mothers is uncool and uncalled for.

Last year I wrote this post, inspired by Jamie Lynn Spears, a girl I felt compelled to defend. Because she was one of us. Regardless of her age, family, celebrity, she was going to be a new mom. A new mom who was being attacked by the media and blogosphere for her choice to become a mother.

I dealt with the same condescending "when I was your age I NEVER..." shit at twenty-three so I cannot even imagine what teen moms deal with.

Some of the greatest people I know were born and raised by young mothers, myself included. A mere generation ago, it was standard fare for women in their late teens and early-twenties to have kids.

Today? The stigma surrounding young mothers is inescapable. Especially in urban areas where we are told we must find success in our careers before we dare think of becoming pregnant.

Bullshit.

Just because some women wouldn't have a child at sixteen or twenty-one or twenty-three doesn't mean I/we/you shouldn't. It certainly doesn't mean anyone is a better mother and yet, some seem to think its okay to insinuate otherwise.



Motherhood is an all ages show. Drinking bracelets be damned, we're all in the same concert hall, trying to see the stage.

GGC

I have two copies of the lovely and amazing Christine Coppa's new book, Rattled! to give away. Chrissi's story is kind of like a NYC version of mine except way more impressive because she? Is doing it all on her own. As always, two lucky winners picked at random c/o random.org.

....


**Congratulations to Misty at The Doan Gang and Melinda at The Stacer Family! Email me so I can get you your copies of Rattled! Thanks to everyone for your empowered and empowering words. **

218 comments:

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Kristen | 12:01 AM

I was just thinking about the differences between generations - your earlier post about being a young mother had me thinking. I'm not planning to have children yet, but there's been such a drastic change in the timeline for women to get married, to have kids, to make careers, any and all of it. Thanks for the reminder that we're all in this together. Living, making things what we want them to be. None of us are ready for parenthood in particular, no matter our age.

3star | 5:13 AM

I just read your book Rebecca and really enjoyed it I read it all in 1 day. I didn't want to put it down I could really relate to the feelings of being taken by surprise by an unexpected pregnancy and worrying about losing your beingness in it.
I came to motherhood late but looking back I think I was very immature and didn't have a plan a house or a car at the grand old age of 35. But it has been the making of me though still no house or car on the horizon and I don't give a damn. Though car would be handy

Zirkuskatze | 6:24 AM

@Erin:
"Age doesn't make a good parent. Love, compassion, caring, these things are what make a good parent."

Seconded! :-)

I don't have a child yet, but I think it's going to happen when it's happening. And whether it was planned or not, whether you're in your teens, in your twens, or in your thierties and so on....age truly doesn't matter.

As for me (being 27yrs old), as soon as I met my boyfriend I knew I wanted to have a child with him someday. Before him, there was never somebody with whom I wanted to start a family. Plus, if I had met him, say, 5 yrs earlier I wouldn't have thought that, too. Probably. But, who knows?

There are so many factors which lead us to the decisions we want to make / are forced to make.

I think, the real question is: can we deal with the the consequences?

And: are we pouring too much thought into it?

:-)

Mary | 9:47 AM

I just turned 26 and had my first baby almost 7 months ago. I haven't really felt any hostility so much, but I feel very "out of the loop". All of my friends are still in the going out/drinking/wasting away money stage and I can think of nothing better than some serious snuggles with my love bug!

Seraphina | 10:51 AM

I'm going to add to the many thanks already posted. I am 22 and going to have my first child in August. However, I feel many of the sentiments expressed above about constantly being judged by others. I work on a University campus, so often I get these pitied "aw, look at the poor pregnant college girl" look. I've been married for four years and my husband and I decided we have had enough rampant fun and we needed to buckle down and get working on having children before we were in geriatric stages...

Anyway, thank you so much for that post.

@sunnywalk | 2:59 PM

love your post, as usual.

i'm a young one in the mom department too. now that ian is in 1st grade and having friends over and such i oftentimes find myself fighting the urge of wanting to keep up...

our house was built in the 80s, we don't drive a luxury SUV, and, yeah, i still have formica countertops. but you know what? at the end of the day none of that matters.

life isn't a one way street so who's to say we're doing it backwards?

licialee | 4:21 PM

I know I posted once... just wanted to toss this out there. I find it interesting to hear of this.. because here where I live (and friends all over) are pregnant, getting pregnant, having babies, having their second baby. And this is all 18-24 age range I'm talking about. And I hate it because I want to have a child.. but now isn't a good time to do it. Just a random thought.

Anonymous | 8:33 PM

Here's some irony for you:

19 years old, living with a loser bf, on the pill- get knocked up anyway, have the most beautiful daughter in the world, ditch loser bf when baby is 11 months old...
*fast forward*
28 years old, happily married, 2.5 years TTC, 1 month fertility drugs, deliver baby 16 weeks premature, baby dies...

Life doesn't care if you're ready... Being "ready" for babies doesn't make you a good parent- LOVING your babies makes you a good parent, and you don't need STUFF to do that!! If I'd known when I met my husband how long it would take to have a baby- I would never have waited!! :D

Colleen | 11:49 AM

I had my son 6 months ago when i was 18 when i got pregnate i was working at a church and i was told that i could no longer work there because i was too young to be a mother and was a bad influence to all the children whom i was working with. I married my husband when i was 3 months along and i love it we are a very good family and im so happy with the way my life is going. Its been hard and money is always tight but i would nevere ever chang a thing i just wish other people whould see that i love my kid and can take care of him just as well if not better than a 40 year old with a big bank account.

anamericangirlinparis | 12:18 PM

Thank you for posting this and for being such a wonderful voice out there when the idiots with their perfect life timelines get going. I'm a 21 year old in a six year relationship, and, honestly, if I were to get pregnant tomorrow, we would probably say fuck it and just do it. AND I'm pretty sure we'd be awesome at it. I'm sick of all the stereotypes regarding relationships started at a young age and the necessity of being over a certain age to be a good mother. What makes a good mother has nothing to do with age and everything to do with commitment and love, which you obviously have towards your children.

J.Danger | 3:36 PM

can I get an A-fucking-Men.

Melinda | 7:10 AM

Thanks so much for the copy of Rattled. It came in the mail yesterday and I am almost 1'4 of the way through it already. :-)

Anonymous | 11:03 AM

I often wonder about your comments about motherhood and young age. Funny thing is, I can relate in a kind of weird opposite way... I'm an OLD mother. Gave birth at 45. I don't feel like I necessarily belong or relate all the time either, but from the other end of the spectrum. Also, as much as you've had commentary or looks regarding your young age, I've had the same regarding my advanced maternal age. I don't really give a crap though... I'm a damned fine Mom, seems like you are too.

Amanda @ My Everyday | 11:12 AM

I had my first son at 21, my second 18months later a month before I turned 23. I've had looks, especially before I wore a wedding ring. No one has ever come out and said anything to me about being young, though I always get the, "I'm wiser because I'm older speech." The times I get pointed fingers is when I say I'm hoping to conceive our third in a few months!

I love being able to smirk at people who talk bad about young moms, I get to pipe in a say, that's funny cause my husband makes more than yours, we own a home, each have a nice car, and I'm 10+ years younger than you. What were YOU doing your whole life?

Sarcastica | 10:40 AM

Rebecca? Thank you guys SO SO much for this. It definitely had to be said. You should have seen the dirty ass looks I got in NICU - the nurses thought I was like 13 lol. And the dirty looks I got while waiting for Matt to pick us up at the hospital last night...man people suck.

I'm nearly 20 and I had a baby and I'm insanely glad of my choice. Couldn't have it any other way, even if it does get lonely and stressful at times.

Anonymous | 2:50 PM

Thank you for such a great and intelligent post. The reason many young mothers struggle so much is because they are constantly judged and told that they can't be good mothers just because of their age. What if instead of crippling these young women, we encouraged them? Sure, at 18 you can make the "honorable" adult decision to go into the military, but if you make the adult decision to have a baby, you clearly have loose morals and questionable judgement.

kittenpie | 7:39 PM

True. My mother had my when she was barely 21, poorer than dirt, and a flighty hippie chick. She pulled it together for me, going it alone to put herself through school and me through a co-op daycare, putting together the most nutritious meals she could and living in student residence, writing essays while I jolly-jumped, driving me around on the back of her bicycle even in a Canadian winter, reading her iconography studies texts aloud to me. I dont' know how she managed, but she did, and it's an amazing thing. Mothers of all ages come in all types - irresponsible or going to incredible lengths, or somewhere in between.

Lauren R | 6:03 AM

I had my daughter before my 21st birthday. I was also a married college graduate. I struggled a lot with taking off to be a stay-at-home mom and not continuing in grad school and a career, but now, at 27 with 3 kids, I realize that my first child will leave home when I'm 37! I will be able to do anything I dream, just in good time.

I have found people to be supportive of my young motherhood, even in urban L.A., Seattle, and D.C., where we have lived these six years. And if they are not, who cares?! (it did take me a few years to develop this attitude...)

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