Thursday, March 22, 2012

Young Mothers and Choices

Wow things are beginning to move fast here! I can't believe that Saint Patrick's Day has already past and Easter is around the corner (as well as the new baby's arrival). It also has been hot the past few days, as in not Springtime warmth, but summer heat. I thought I'd never be putting on sunscreen in March, but low and behold... this week I did!


I also do not envy other mothers whom have their third trimesters during the summer. Up to this point I've been spoiled by only being largely pregnant during Winter. This heat is no fun, not to mention I really have no warm weather maternity clothes so I just look silly and overexposed shoving myself into my non-maternity summer clothes. But I am enjoying the final weeks of my pregnancy. Despite the aches and heat, I am happy and happy to wait. I guess since this is my third pregnancy I have more perspective on how fleeting this all is. I love being wobbly and round. 



Me, at 21, holding my little Deirdre a few hours after birth. I just couldn't stop staring at her. Everything she did was a little miracle to me. 





On that note, I have been reflecting recently on my motherhood-wifehood-and my pregnancies. I volunteer with a mothers support group and during one discussion two weeks back another mother (who happens to be older than me) was commenting about her mother. She related that even though her mother chose to be a mother when she was young and educated, that she felt her mother resented her (the daughter) for taking away her mother's childhood. Afterwards she said to me, "I hope you don't end up feeling the same way towards your children." 


I have to say her directness took be by surprise, especially since I was the group leader and had never made any indication that I regretted my life's timing. I guess I must be close to her mother's age when she had children. I am also sure that her intentions were pure (I know this particular mother is having a lot of confidence issues herself). So at the time, I brushed off her comment and thanked her for her concern. But it did stick with me and I have been thinking about it. So do I resent my children for taking away my childhood?


The answer is a loud resounding NO! I had a childhood. I don't consider having children and getting married in my early twenties, 21 to be exact, impeding on my childhood (I will be turning 26 this year). Young adulthood, yes. But really, truly, what else would I be doing or want to be doing? 


Working a career- yes probably-but I make a choice even now to not do that and have no regrets. I did finish college and have two degrees to show for it. I traveled before and while I was pregnant and feel I had plenty of good life experiences before then- and I am still having them now! I also had been independent from my parents and taking care of myself for almost five years when I first got pregnant and married. So I'm not really sure what I am supposed to be regretting by choosing to become a mother. I always wanted to have children and Craig and I knew early on in our relationship that our goal was marriage. 


Our wedding, 12-2-07, two weeks before Deirdre was born.
Furthermore, I don't think you have to have gone to college, lived on your own, or traveled in order to not regret becoming a mother, or legitimize your choice. That is just where I happened to be coming from. 


I guess what wanted to say was that I chose to become a mother and a wife, and I did so happily with my eyes wide open. These choices were not forced upon me. Adoption was always an option and for most of my  first pregnancy, it was THE option we were going to choose, until God made it clear that it wasn't the right choice for Craig and I. 


I am not going to lie and say that all of this has been easy, but it certainly has been rewarding. Marriage and motherhood isn't easy period, and I believe going into it at any age presents its own unique challenges. I also am happier, more content, and at peace with who I am and the life I am living now more than ever before. My faith also has a lot to do with that too. 


I respect everyone else's choices and opinions too on the timing of their families, or even the decision to have a family. I just hope people don't think that younger mothers are mothers because they were forced into it and regret it. I am sure mothers of all ages have regrets, and I do too, but not about becoming a mother. It is the best decision Craig and I ever made, next to getting married. 


So there is my two cents for the week. It's been a long time since I have even thought about that time in my life or even remembered that most of society considers still me a young mother at 26. And so what if I am young? I think it is quite empowering to remember we all made a choice to become a mother at the age we did- young or old. Life is too rich and fleeting to get caught up in regrets. I try to live in the here and now. And I like this place a lot. 


Always, 
Nicole 


Marveling at and holding my daughter for the first time!







15 comments:

  1. It's lovely reading more about you. My mum was 21 when she had me (and I'm the middle child). I always felt very lucky to have a young mum and I am sure your kids would feel the same. I think some of the stigma with young mums is from all the messages which we hear about teenage pregnancy. And often it takes a while to rub off!

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    1. Have you gotten the package yet? If not I hope it comes really soon! The most recent one I sent to New Zealand took two weeks, so I am hoping it takes less time to get to you! However I must warn you, our US postal service is not great. They're actually about to go bankrupt :(

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    2. Aw thanks Kelly! That's neat to know about your Mom. My mother was 27 when she had me but she had lots of fertility issues. My brother and I are 7 years apart for that reason (I am the oldest).

      Yeah, I am sure teen pregnancy must have something to do with the stigma. Is it a problem in Australia like it is in the US? I guess I just don't see how young Moms in their twenties get lumped together with teens. And even for the teens whom chose to become mothers, good for them! I think a lot more love and support should be given out before judgement.

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    3. The parcel must still be on its way to us :-) Is your post service privatised? (ours is still government owned, although a business).

      Teen pregnancy doesn't seem very common where I have grown up. Actually I'm having trouble thinking of any teen pregnancies at my school. I think where I live in Australia may not be indicative of Australia though??

      And you are right - teens and twenty-somethings are very different and shouldn't be lumped together. It does seem like around 30 has become the norm here though (in my circles anyway). I had Master D when I was 28 and I got comments about 'being so young'! Weird huh. Career wise etc, there is never a good time for babies, but if you are ready for them and you decide to have them you should be supported!

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    4. Our post service is weird, it is privately run but supported by the government. I didn't think it was possible for them to go bankrupt but I guess they are! Partially I think the problem is that they don't have as much mail these days (because of computers), so they've laid off a lot of workers and just can't run efficiently anymore.

      In my high school, we had maybe 2 or 3 teen pregnancies that I knew of. Our graduating class had close to 1000 students in it, so I guess that is low (especially considering the only sexual education we received was abstinence only). I grew up in a beach resort town. But nation wide it seems to be an issue in the US.

      Most my friends (college and high school) now are getting married and having children- so mid/late twenties seems to be the norm. But I totally agree about there is never a good time, or that you are ever totally ready for kids. Sometimes it might be more convenient or you might be more stable, but they always turn your world upside down- in a good way!

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  3. I totally agree, jake and i got married very young (i was 17 he was 19)and everyone had the same attitude twards our marriage, "your too young you'll regret this, wait a few more years, have fun date around!" but we knew what was right for us what God had in store for us and even though we were so young we didnt enter our marriage lightly, we prayed and knew this was what God had for us and that this was the perfect timing(thanfully my parents and pastor also prayed and were in agreement) and i'm SO glad we went with hat we knew was right because i have never once regretted marrying jake, we have grown up a bit together, and its been wonderful! i have seen where he and i have been and how we have changed for the better, seeing how God has guided us through and strengthened us as a couple and as individuals. People who were so focused on our ages and not where we were emotionally and mentally and spiritually questioned our decision(some even flat out mocked us) but those who knew us knew we were ready, they were supportive.
    for a long time i felt like i had to explain our decision whenever people would ask "oh how long have you been married?" i would say how long they would do the math and as their face exploded i woulf quickly insert "i was finished with highschool at 15, nannied for a few years and now going to bible collage"(crying out I WASNT YOUR AVERAGE 17 YEAR OLD IM DIFFERENT MY LIFE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT A DIFFERENT PACE IF YOU ONLY KNEW ME!!) i thought i needed to justify my self with where i was in life, i have had to stop doing that, i just proudly say, "we have been married for 7 years 8 in september" and let them think what they like because i know i am where i am because God put me there, and regardless of how you got where you are now, you are choosing to try and honor God with your decisions and rejoice in all that he has Given you, and that is a HUGE BLESSING!!!

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    1. You're so kind and brave to share your story Linnie. Thank you for the love. God has been so good and gracious to us.

      I have a lot of respect for you. We were blessed in our church circle to receive lots of love and encouragement through our whole situation with Deirdre (repentance, pursuing adoption, then changing our minds, marriage, and her birth). However it was some of our friends and society that seemed to give us the most trouble.

      I just don't understand the negativity! I don't feel like I need to justify myself or my decisions to anyone, yet I find myself doing so when I get negative comments.

      Yet at the same time, I think it's important to remember that we all are where we are for a reason, and to love and support each other instead to tearing on another down. I want to see mothers of all ages doing well (especially true teen moms not out of school with little support), and all marriages doing well- not secretly hoping they fail, ya know?

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    2. My mum always says "hurting people hurt people" and that always helped me to look at were those people were coming from, its easier to criticize someone else rather than look in the mirror and deal with your own issues and every negative angry person was avoiding having to work through things in their own lives, i think that helped make me more understanding and helped me to pity them rather than get too hurt by their words... and pray for them! (super hard to pray for your enemies but i think thats why the bible talks about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you, because they are just hurting people who need the peace and love we have in our savior)

      *hugs*
      Don't let them steal your joy!!

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  4. I was 23 when we got married and 24 when I had Jackson - which seems like normal marrying/childbearing age to me. I too have gotten a lot of the "that's so young" comments - not to mention the multitude of "why did you have children so early in your marriage? You just made it harder on yourselves" comments (which get to me the most). I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but being young and early in our marriage, in my opinion (for our life), was perfect timing for us. Just because you wait until you're older or more financially established, doesn't mean you're going to be better at it. Nor does being young mean you can't excel at it. You are a FABULOUS mama and an inspiration to many of us!

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    1. Thanks for sharing Emily. I just assumed that you were much older than me :) And see and you did things in the right order and still get flack! I guess we can't win, eh? I think having kids early in our marriage actually helped us work out a lot of kinks. Past year 1, and one major crisis, it's been pretty smooth sailing!

      You're right about timing, what works for one of us- doesn't work for all of us. Everyone at any age is going to have their own unique parenting and marriage challenges.

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  5. you have such a beautiful way with words and expressing your feelings. as you already know, i was also a pregnant 21 year-old bride and i can't imagine what my life would be like now without my beautiful children. i will honestly admit that sometimes i do mourn the loss of my youth, just like everyone occasionally daydreams about 'what could have been'. it's hard for my husband and i because nobody else in our social circle has yet to have children and are constantly going on exciting trips around the world and nagging us for not being able to go along. but this is where i belong and this is where i am happy--in my home with my kids. i never had the chances to travel and study like you did, but we will still be young and probably more financially stable once our kids are grown so THAT'S when we'll get to really travel around and adventure. and we also won't be too tired to take them with us when they are bigger. i knew when i got pregnant with cooper that our lives were going to change drastically and that we were a strong enough couple to excel at parenthood. and not to toot my own horn, but so far we have two incredibly amazing kids and we are still madly in love with each other. it's a pretty sweet life ♥

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    1. Thank you for sharing Abby. You have a good perspective on the future. You will get to travel one day and it will be better then. I backpacked through Europe. It was tough, rewarding yes, but tough physically. I did not get to eat nice food or stay in nice places (but I saw some awesome things and met great people). When CC and I are older and can travel again we'll all be able to see great things, meet great people, and be comfortable/well fed!!! What's the fun of being in France if you can't afford to drink the wine and eat the food :) As for school, yeah, no useful life skills. I mean I can write well, teach, research, and speak a few languages- but I rarely use that specified knowledge on a daily basis. I wish I had been more practical and put Craig through school because I'm not using it, and I don't want to.

      But we are all allowed to have regrets :) We both seem to be on the same page though. Your do have a sweet life and sweet sweet kiddos!!

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  6. I am right there with you in the young mom's group. I was 18 when I became pregnant senior year, and my husband was 17. We married when I was 20 and onto our second baby at 21....I'm now 28 and pregnant with baby #4 with still no regrets just happiness and thankful that everything worked out for us because I do believe that the odds are against young couples.
    I remember when I was growing up I was always asked what I wanted to be when I was an adult and I would always answer a "mommy" and when that wasn't a good enough answer I would reply teacher or nurse which is funny because I am all of those things so in my mind I'm living my dream life right now. I was never really into following the crowd in my late teens...I actually hated those years and couldn't wait to fast forward and start my life. I also know that when my children are grown my husband and I will be able to have our time together to travel and do other things on our bucket list, just as my parent are doing right now. You see my parents were also VERY young parents they were 16 and 17 when they had me, and now they are having their time together..this summer their renewing their vows in Ireland. So I think young parents don't miss out I just think they do everything in a different order then the norm...although now a days what is normal??
    Thanks for a great post, and I hope all is going well in your pregnancy!

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  7. Hi Nicole!

    You may or may not remember me, but we knew each other in high school. I started following your blog back when you were on facebook, and I thought you seemed like a good person to ask. My husband and I just got married, and I'm facing some complicated decisions around having kids. I had a few questions I thought maybe you could answer. I'd ask my mother or mother in law, but that would have the relatives hoping and talking ;)

    Could you email me at newsharpfire@yahoo.com? I can't find an email address for you on here.

    Thanks for a great blog!

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I love to chat! Please comment :)