The “Younger” Mum

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of posting some of my thoughts on the line. Kidding. Just because I’m a mum doesn’t mean I’m old and don’t know about technology and stuff.
I’m hip. I’m cool. I’m bloggin’. Relax, I’m actually only 26.

And there it is. There it goes. My first paragraph and my first reference to being a mum. And being a “younger mum”.

In my past life as a youth worker, we referred to “young mums” as mums who are under the age of 25. We had specialised programs for these mums. Then, when I fell pregnant (I just want to add, what a ridiculous saying. Oops! I tripped! What do you know, I conceived a human!)… Anyway, when I became pregnant at 25, I realised I’d just scraped past the “young mum” cut off. I was a bit bummed really. No specialised programs for me! I was glad however, that I was something of a “mature aged mum”. That sounded classy. WRONG! First prenatal yoga class: I seemed to be the only woman present under the age of 35. I found myself childishly referencing “my husband” and doing the old wave of the left hand to show off the wedding ring. It probably wasn’t hard to miss given it was still so shiny. November wedding. January pregnancy. Who knew it could be so easy to get pregnant! Haha… Ha.

So, here I was. Not a young mum and apparently not even a mum of average age, but what I like to call a “younger mum”. The forgotten aged mum. That bizarre in-betweener who doesn’t fit in with the high-school mums and yet isn’t quite right for the older (not old, just older than me!) mums with coffee tables and stylish magazines. I desperately hope no one takes offence to my heinous stereotyping. It’s only that I clearly lack a coffee table. Or magazines. Or a humble abode. Or any abode. We’re living with my parents.

So, here I am, pregnant at 25. It’s an age I would have thought of myself being pregnant at when I was a young girl. My mum had her first baby when she was 25. I actually had the audacity to interrogate my mum when I was a child as to why she selfishly decided to have me, her third child, at the geriatric age of 31. She’ll be in a home by the time I reach my 21st!

But wait, it seems the times have changed. People seem to be having kids later these days.

It never occurred to me until I started incubating my own little human that I’m quite young, at least for my demographic. Whilst I do see “younger mums” around, only one of my school friends has reproduced thus far.

I was blissfully happy with the idea of being young enough to keep up with my child as he or she grows and young enough to still enjoy life after they leave the nest, but also faced with a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. Who of my friends will I share this journey with? How will I fill my baby-rearing days? On my own? At first that seemed appealing until the reality of the idea set in.

As the pregnancy progressed, I met some wonderful women of all ages who were also pregnant, including some my own age and younger. I wondered why I had pigeon-holed myself into an age bracket. Then, after having my baby and going through all the joys and struggles of the newborn stage, I came across a blog. Don’t bother asking me which blog because I have no idea. I don’t even know how I managed to dress myself during that stage I was in such a sleep-deprived stupor.

So, this aforementioned blog… Basically, to summarise it, the little upstart who wrote it felt compelled to write an entire entry about how getting married and getting pregnant is “easy” and shouldn’t be celebrated. Rather, as a society we should celebrate people excelling in their work or study, or undergoing rites of passage such as travel.

Umm… UMMMM…… Hold yo tongue gurrrrrrl! First I had a bit of a chuckle. Next I felt my skin prickle and burn. SHE. SAID. WHAT??!!!

My initial reaction was to write a comment (if only I knew how) or even create my own blog in response, but I felt that was both giving her unnecessary attention, as well as a fairly unachievable task given I spent most of my time getting broken sleep on sheets scented with a hint of baby urine.

What I wanted to write in my response was that clearly the girl who wrote this blog has sour grapes. Evidently never having found someone to tolerate her enough to be bound to her for eternity and reproduce with her, she’s taken to attacking innocent mothers and wives as revenge.

I wanted to write that clearly she has zero respect for whoever birthed and raised her.

I wanted to ask her what right she has to assume that marriage and parenthood automatically renders someone a high-school drop out who has no hopes for the future and consequently decides to pop out a few kids for fun.

I wanted to point out that I have a University degree, a postgraduate diploma, have travelled to many countries in the world, spent time interstate volunteering at an immigration detention centre, and polished off a few years working with disadvantaged young people. Pause to pat myself on the back.

But in fact, what she said is true. It’s absolutely true that anyone can get married. I could easily walk into a registry and sign a piece of paper and be done with it.
It’s true that it can be easy to get pregnant (as I discovered).

What’s evident in her blog entry however, is what little insight she has into what it takes to be a partner in a marriage. What it takes to maintain a relationship through life’s ups and downs and still find something to love. To fall more and more in love as time goes on.
What it takes to birth a baby and raise that person to be a contributing member of society.

Not to mention the incredible anguish some people go through to try and fall pregnant. The emotional roller coaster and financial strain that treatments such as IVF can cause. There are people who have spent years trying to have a baby. I know of a couple who migrated to Australia many years ago in order to seek fertility treatment. Many years, tears and dollars later they have three beautiful children who are making their own mark on the world- studying, traveling,  getting married. I’m sure their journey was anything but “easy”.

Of course, as a society we should be celebrating people’s success in education, the workforce and travel pursuits, but let’s not do so without remembering that somebody or some people raised that person.
If we valued raising children as a society more than having the latest model cars and TVs, maybe there’d be a lot more happy people in the world.

I could say to this blogger, “Let’s trade places for a day”, but there are two things I’m damn sure of:
1. Life is not a competition
2. I would never trust my precious child in the hands of someone who lacks the maturity to care for a child.

And here’s my final point, blogger. You know those amazing, life-altering places that you can afford to travel to? The ones that help you “find yourself”? The ones where you travel to a small community and meet families who are poor but happy and will never have the opportunity to travel? Yeah. Let that be your lesson.

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