It’s Not Easy Being Green

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.


18 thoughts on “It’s Not Easy Being Green

  1. This is a great post Allison. I love it. I don’t think it’s any easier at 30 (well almost 30) than at 23. I think it’s hard no matter when you have kids. There are days when I feel selfless as a mother and think ‘I would never have been like this 5 years ago’, then there are days I think ‘well I’ve always done this for myself I hate I can’t now.’ So no matter what age we face challenges. I find it odd that you feel so young, because I feel so old!!! I look on facebook and almost all my high school friends have 4 year olds or older! Of coarse I will be jealous when you are 40 living it up traveling the globe and I’m stuck with a teenager in my 40’s 🙂
    Great Post.

  2. I’m actually with you on the being a young Mom thing. I’m 25, the youngest of the group of people we hang out with (thanks to marrying someone 12 years older than me) and I’m the only Mom in our core group of friends. Mike works long/weird hours lately and the friends are always sweet enough to ask me if I want to spend time with them, but they rarely understand why I say no so often.

    I’ve been mistaken for D’s babysitter and even his older sister once when we were out. It was awkward when I told that person that No, I’m actually his mother, but I got over it quickly.

    I think that if anyone is harsh on you because of this, especially if they are another mother, then they’re lying to themselves. Every mother goes through selfish phases. It’s exhausting to be selfless all the time.

  3. **CHEERS**

    **looks at the calendar, sees her 30th birthday, and slinks off into the darkness of old…**

    Seriously, though, I am GOING to find a day on the calendar before school starts for you. It’s hard no matter how old we are or how old our kids are. It’s awesome luck that our boys are the same age. And I wish I was 23 so, we’ll pretend. Like make believe and stuff.

  4. I was 26 when I had my first child and we had been married eight years! I was ready to have a baby I thought. It still doesn’t change that tired sleepless emotional rollercoaster you go on. That waking up and realizing someone helpless is depending on you. That knowledge that you must be responsible for the rest of your life. I loved having my new baby and then two years later another baby and 19 months later another one. But what an adjustment. I see girls of all ages with babies and I don’t think once to judge them. I usually just sympathize if they’re having a hard time. It’s not easy. My daughter is 22 now with her 11 week old and taking full time college. I don’t see how either of you do it. Great job, I say. I pray for both of you. 😀

  5. You are so right, the basics of parenting are not any easier or harder no matter how old you are- the lack of sleep, the need (NEEEED!) for patience… it doesn’t matter when you have kids. That part is HARD.

    That being said, I do admire you for being so young & going to school & taking care of a toddler! But not in a ‘oh wow, I’m SO SORRY you had a kid so young!’ kind of way, just a ‘wow, that takes GUTS, good for you!’ Life doesn’t always go as planned, right? 😉

    My mom had me at 18 (YIKES.) and now she’s a 49 year old GRANDMOTHER. LOL I have friends with HUSBANDS almost that age!! And while most of her friends still have kids in high school, she’s completely free to do her thing, come play with Maggie, whatever! She loves it 🙂 She said it of course would have been financially easier to start a family later in life, but that’s not what happened. So now she’s just enjoying her Me time a little later in life.

    No matter how young you are, you are a FANTASTIC MOM to Alex.

  6. You kids are so cute, sez the 38-year-old.

    Seriously, though, it’s not easy, and any age when one becomes a parent has its advantages and disadvantages. But regardless of age, as long as you love your kid(s) and raise them right, you’re doing a good job.

    And, golly, why can’t people keep their judgements to themselves! I understand the “exclamation” slip-up, but it isn’t too hard to think before you speak, is it? (speaking as one occasionally guilty. “Four kids? wow!” Then feeling like an idiot.)

    Amen, sister. We should all support each other, not pass judgement.


  7. Allison,
    I’m so glad you wrote this. I’ve a very similar post swirling around in my head for weeks. I’ll be 38 when my daughter graduates high school. I’m also from the South, where people feel fit to judge and predict young motherhood. I think I’ll put a post up on Monday. Thank you.

    PS. I wish you lived in my ‘hood. Also, if you ever want to bitch about young motherhood, feel free to email or skype me at shamelesslysassy.

  8. I was a sophomore in college when my mom turned 40 and when I turn 40 (in the much too close future) I will have 2-3yr olds and a six-yr old. When I turn 50…still 3 kids at home. So there are certainly some advantages to having kids at a younger age.

    When I was your age, I was out at late and sleeping in and enjoying being single. Although I planned to have kids in my later 20’s, it didn’t work out that way. And I still really, really miss sleeping in on the weekends.

    Just think, you would have no reason to hang out with “old ladies” like me if you weren’t a mom 🙂

  9. You know, Donald and I were just talking about this the other day. Specifically, we were talking about how men are judged differently than women. Donald is 32 but looks younger than he is, so when people see him with Charlotte, they say “Oh, how nice that you’re having them young, you’ll appreciate that one day, it’s so wonderful to see a young man so enamored of his child, so active in his baby’s life.”

    I’m a little younger than Donald, but either I look MUCH younger than we realize OR people really put undue pressure on women to wait until they have dentures before they reproduce, because people see me with Charlotte and cannot help themselves. I get those same looks and one woman at Target the other day even asked if I was going back to finish my high school diploma or if I was dropping out to support my child, she didn’t mind either one, she just thought it was great that I kept a baby as an unwed mother. HIGH SCHOOL?! REALLY?! I LOOK LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT UNWED MOTHER?!

    Unreal. Also, one time a few years ago, I was babysitting my friend’s kids and we decided to take a picnic to the park. En route, we passed a retirement home. This old woman saw me with the kids and shouted at me that I was a harlot and a whore for having multiple teenage pregnancies. So maybe I do look like the high school dropout unwed mother.

    Anyway, back to my point, I don’t think that motherhood is about age, I think it’s about love and care and all of those sorts of things. If everybody were responsible enough to raise a child beginning at 21, as you were, then by all means, they should go for it. And nobody should judge that, NOBODY.

  10. I, too, am a young mom…well, I am 30 now but I had Jada at 20 and Chuckie ten months after Jada was born so you can just imagine the looks I was getting!! It doesn’t help that I look younger than I am too!

    Hang in there. Most of the moms of my kids’ friends are much older than I am and it is kind of weird. When I had my kids, I was the only one living on my own and married with kids. I know exactly how you are feeling.

    Parenthood never was and never will be easy. It’s just a shame that everyone couldn’t just quit with the looks and say, “hey, you are doing a good job there Mama!” 🙂

  11. I can’t imagine having a child at 21. Gosh I was immature and a moron at that age. I was nowhere near ready to have a child. But some mothers are. My sister-in-law wasn’t exactly “ready” but she had her first daughter at 21. She just turned 30 and she already has five girls. The thought exhausts me.

    I was 29 when I had Jonathan but on a mental level I felt 21.

    “Who lets an airhead like me procreate?!” I thought to myself when I got pregnant. That and “What was I thinking? Did I really want to be pregnant?!”

    But at any age, it is wonderful and at any age there are different challenges. I don’t know you personally, but from what I read on this blog, I think you’re doing just fine. Ignore what anyone implies with their looks or their comments. You don’t owe crap to any of them. All that matters is your son. Period.

  12. I’m sorry you feel judged by your age. I’m not sure who is to say when a woman is “ready” to have kids. How old are you “supposed” to be?? My grandma was married at 18, had my mom at 19. My mom was married at 21, had me at 23. So I thought I was old when I got married at 24 and had my first baby at 27. You’re completely right though – it’s tough being a mom at any age.

  13. It’s hard at any age – you can feel judged if you’re young, old, fat, skinny, over what your kid is eating, playing or watching. If he’s quiet or loud, obedient or tantrum prone. You (and Zach and Alex and US) know your a great mom and that’s all that matters.

    For what it’s worth, I am the oldest mom in Em’s class, and sometimes I feel weird about it.

  14. My life is so totally the opposite that I find this very interesting. I just turned 24 and I honestly could not even imagine having a child right now. Not because it would be a bad thing, but my life is definitely all me, all the time (I don’t even have any pets). When I lived at my parents’ house for a year and a half after college, I was the minority; most people my age still in my small town had children. And while waking up at 6 a.m. sucks, you have a great reason to (much better than work).

  15. You’ve been thinking a lot about this topic… and I feel like I’ve been thinking a lot about it FOR you. I often find myself considering what it would be like if I was YOU for a day. I want to have children young. For me… that might be the only way I can do it and be okay… I’d be a high risk pregnancy and delivery, and things would only get more complicated as I age and my condition progresses. Any way. I have always had such great admiration for you and have really enjoyed watching you pave the way. I know it can’t be easy… but you seem to do it so well, and to love it. ; )

  16. This is such a wonderful post. You hit so many thoughts that I have perfectly.

    I was 25 when I had Wuzzle, and I’m still (by a long shot) the only of my friends with a child. Heck, I was married for 4 years before any of my friends got married even!! (I do have one friend who has children, and he is 5 years older than me… so he was 28 when they had their first!) Heck, I remember trying to tell my parents we were pregnant… I was scared that even they would judge me!

    I absolutely adore your quote about the grass. It is wonderful, isn’t it?

  17. Wow you really put yourself out there. Thanks for that, and no I doubt it’s any easier at 29. You’re brave and I think it can be hard that we put these walls up. I get crap for being a working mom, when my husband stays at home, but it’s the situation we find ourselves in and we just move on. He gets annoyed when people try to give him advice all the time like he doesnt know what to do because he’s a dad- why do we make rash judgements on each other?

  18. Since my Chloe’s second birthday is tomorrow I remembered that your Alex is two today! Hope your family is enjoying a wonderful day together!

Comments are closed.