A couple of days ago I was in the middle of my shift at the grocery store I work at when the mom of one of my old middle school friends came in. Already deciding to pretend I didn’t recognize her, I was prepared to assist her like I would with any other customer.
Unfortunately enough for me, she remembered me. This made for a mostly okay conversation, centered mostly around her son. We made small talk as I helped her, and she asked me how I had been. I told her about Camden, and how I was planning a wedding for next June. When I told her about my life, she looked surprised. She failed to conceal the displeasure on her face but quickly recomposed herself. This made for an awkward rest of the conversation, and I was grateful for her to be on her way.
It was evident that it made her uncomfortable that I had just had a baby. A part of me wonders what must have been running through her head. Maybe she was just thankful that her son didn’t turn out the same way I did. Needless to say by the end of the transaction I was happy to send her on her way.
I’m not exactly sure why this woman’s disapproval of my life bothered me the way it did. I had not spoken to her son in at least 2 years, and had not seen her in God knows when. But I found myself agitated long after she left and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. I know that being a mom, especially a teen mom for whatever reason is going to be met with judgment. Call me crazy, but I have a problem with my life being met with criticism by someone who hardly knows me.
And that’s why we really really really REALLY need to stop judging other mamas.
Becoming a mom at any age is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your prime baby-birthing years or get a later start or an earlier one. No matter how old you are, motherhood is a whole new ballpark. I am a teen mom. To a lot of people, it means a lot of different things.
To some, I’m stupid.
I was in my final year of high school when I became pregnant with my son. I had always been the nice, smart girl in school. You know the one everyone always copied homework off of and was respectful to teachers? That was me.
When Camden was only a few weeks old, I had a scheduled nurses home visit. The nurse who came to check up on us was super nice, don’t get me wrong. We talked about Cam and how I was feeling and all of that mandatory small talk. Something had made her ask me if I had managed to graduate high school. It was a simple question, and I’m sure she’d seen plenty of mothers my age who hadn’t managed to finish, so it was fair to ask. For some reason, it offended me anyway.
I told her that I managed to graduate early. She wouldn’t stop praising me on my achievement and how hard it must have been for me and how level headed I was. Like it was such an amazing thing for me to be both a teen mom and high school graduate. I don’t know if she was just the overly cheery type and wanted me to feel good or what. It didn’t feel malicious, it just felt weird. I’ve never been the type to feel incompetent and not finishing when I was so close to being done never even crossed my mind.
I’ve seen way too many young mothers be shamed for their age and their decisions when it comes to their babies. They must be an idiot for having a baby so young. These things happen, and instead of condemning young mom’s for something that’s already a done deal (and none of their business), we need to be helpful and supportive.
I’m not with the father of my child
I’ve been asked 3 different times by people whether or not the father of my child was in the picture. Every time I get asked this, I get pissed off. This is such a degrading question. You never see anybody in their 30s being asked this question, and I just don’t get it. Some people see a young mom and automatically assume the father isn’t around, and it pisses me off. It’s just nobody’s business, and even if he wasn’t, what’s it to ya? It just seems like a weird question to ask someone with a baby. It is meant to be shaming and uncomfortable and it needs to stop.
I encourage teen pregnancy
Since I had a baby as a teen, I must encourage teens having babies, right? Wrong. I don’t encourage teen pregnancy. Matter of fact, it goes right back down to not being any of my business. I wouldn’t go up to a sixteen-year-old and tell them how they should have a baby and list off how glamorous being a teen mom is because it’s not. But I also wouldn’t go up to a 20 something and tell them how they should have a baby and list off how glamourous just being a mom is. It’s simply not my place and none of my business.
Now if someone wanted to know my feelings about being a mom, I would tell them the truth. I would tell them how fulfilling it is for me and how I feel like I have found my purpose. I would tell them how hard it can be, and how lonely it gets, and how my baby’s smiling face makes it all worth it.
My lifestyle is encouraging to younger people
Alden and I have had a few people compliment us and call us “life goals” or “relationship goals” for whatever reason. With that, I must say that I am only responsible for myself. If someone looks at me and wants to model their life off the decisions I have made, that’s on them. But honestly, I have no idea why you would want to. Not that my life isn’t great, I love my family and wouldn’t change it for anything. Things have worked out well for us. And I recognize that someone the same age as me put into the same position as myself may not do as well. But my life is all mine, just like yours is all yours. I take no responsibility for what anybody decides to do with their lives just because I happened to have a baby.
I’ll never be able to accomplish my dreams with a baby on my hip
Some people believe that babies are equated to shattered dreams. There’s NO WAY I’ll be able to achieve my dreams and do what I want to do after having a baby. Why do people believe that? It’s just bullshit. I have plenty of things I still want to do with my life, and being a mom is now just a part of it. You’re in charge of your own life, and if you want to make something happen, you hold the power to do that. I don’t understand why so many people believe that having a family is the end of their lives when it’s just the beginning. I still have a lot of life to live, and I may have to work my ass off a little harder to make things work, but I’m still fully capable of accomplishing my dreams and being a mom at the same time. Being a parent is not an excuse.
I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing
Maybe this is the one thing people get right. I will be the first to admit that I don’t know it all. Some days it really feels like I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m learning. I don’t always know what to do, and I’m not going to pretend to be one of those people that do. That’s just the way parenthood is. I know people who are new parents and I know people who have been parents for years, and none of them always know what they’re doing. Every day is a new adventure with ups and downs. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s all worth it.
I think being judged just comes with the territory of being a mom. Somebody is always going to have something to say about how you mom. No matter what the topic is, I guarantee that someone disagrees with you. Being a teen mom can mean a lot of different things for people. But to me, it is just another part of me. It does not make me any better or worse than anybody else, or any less capable to love and care for my baby. And that’s what I think we need to get back at. We are all in this, just trying to raise little people and prepare them for the world. As long as we are doing the very best we can, I think we will be okay. We just have to keep moving forward, and mom on.