I have been sitting on this post for months. I’m worried that it is not going to come across the way that I want it to. I’m not angry, just thoughtful. Sometimes it’s hard to get a point across correctly, so I can only hope that the people who read my blog know me well enough to know that this is just me sharing some thoughts.
Over and over again I’ve been told how lucky I am to have had a son so young. I’m not too young to be totally inept, and I’m not too old to be, well, old, I guess. And there is certainly a lot to be said for having a child at 21.
When Alex graduates from high school, I’ll be 40. Forty. That means I’ll still have so much time left to live without a kid running around my house. (Unless, of course, there is another baby in my future.)
But it’s not easy being a 23 year old mom.
When people see me with Alex, they often mistake me for his babysitter. Once I have explained that I’m actually his mother, thankyouverymuch, I get this look from them. This look that says “Oh…you got knocked up and decided to keep the baby. Wow.” or the look that says, “Sorry to hear that another teenager wound up pregnant.” I wasn’t a teenager, but even if I had been, the judgement is harsh. Because “teenage mom” is never said it a positive way.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a “normal” aged mom. Honestly, I don’t even know what that means. I can’t say that I think it would be easier to be, say, 28, 32, 38, in my situation. I can’t say it would be harder, either. All I know is that it is never easy. Parenthood is not a breeze. It’s not supposed to be easy.
When Alex wakes up at 6am, which he inevitably does, my brain hurts. My body hurts. I’m only 23! I’m supposed to be staying up late and sleeping in.
I only know two other people within a year of me who have children. And I only “know” them still because of Facebook.
While every other one of my friends is out partying on Friday and Saturday nights, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, and then sleeping in as late as they want the next day, I’m home with a toddler. While they are working office hours or irregular hours, coming home to an empty apartment or even back to their parent’s house, I am working 24/7. While every other one of my friends gets a break, some alone time, some peace and quiet, I don’t. While they are taking classes, drinking, shopping whenever they feel like it, I’m busy chasing a toddler around or thinking about whoever is chasing him around if I’m not with him. And that’s okay. I love my toddler. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s just not easy. It is not “easier” to be the mom of a toddler because I’m “young.” It’s still exhausting, and often very lonely. As the only person my age with a kid, my social life is very limited and very different than I had ever imagined it would be at 23.
Maybe my age gives me the advantage of having more energy to chase him around day after day. But I still don’t have the ability to function on too little sleep. And I don’t have the ability to be nice every time someone judges me for being a young mom. And I certainly have not grown out of my “it’s all about me” phase yet.
That phase. You know the one. It’s called being a teenager. It’s called being horribly selfish. I was a teenager a mere 5 years ago. And it takes a while to become less selfish.
It requires a lot of energy to be selfless. We all knows this. I don’t know if, as we age, we become better at this, but from my experience we do. I certainly am better able to be selfless with Alex now than I would have been, say, 5 years ago.
But maybe it’s even harder to be selfless as an “older” mom. Maybe years of being able to live as an adult, single or married, without kids, makes the idea of having to suddenly put your life on hold for a child harder. Or maybe at that point it’s easier because, in theory, you are ready for it.
When it comes right down to it, who is to decide what is “easier” or “harder” anyway? Is it harder being a stay at home mom or a work out of home mom? Is it harder being a mom as a student, or being a mom who can’t find a job? Is it harder being a teen mom, or a mom in her 50’s?
I do my best not to judge any mother. While I don’t always succeed, it is important for me, as a mom who is judged all the time, to recognize that every mom has struggles and every parent has different beliefs in how to raise children. If I see a mom hit a kid, I have trouble not judging because it is against my own personal beliefs on how to raise children. But I try to step back, and remember that they are doing the best they can. And that they are probably in turn judging me for buying my son a snack nearly every time we go out shopping together.
I guess at the end of the day the grass is always greener on the other side. But at the end of the day, we are still living in grass. And it’s beautiful.