It's an all too often reality for women like me.
You're out and about with your children minding your own business and some older lady gives you and your children that look.
The look of judgment.
Other times some may approach offering advice under the assumption that you have no idea what you are doing.
The stigma that young mothers can not be good mothers needs to end.
The Reasons why are as follows:
1. Raising a child is challenging at any age.
No one is a perfect parent. Children march to the beat of their own drum no matter how much we may try to control them. Whether it be staying up all hours of the night no matter what we call "bedtime" or starting a hunger strike with more conviction than Gandhi because you disagree that snack cakes are a suitable breakfast food.
They are relentless little beings whether you are 17 or 70.
2. We love our children just as much as anyone else.
Just like any mother, we spend nine months a sick emotional wreck, cherishing every kick and counting the days until our baby arrives. Then the time comes and we look down at those little eyes and our whole world shifts. From that moment on the word love takes on a whole new meaning, one of which we never knew existed. All we want is to give our children the best life possible as any other parent does.
3. Relationship status does not determine a fit or unfit parent.
Too frequently people feel it is acceptable to ask a young mother "Oh is the baby's father in the picture?" Not only is this question completely inappropriate and none of your business but it also doesn't make her a better or a worse mother. Yes, it is ideal for a child to have both parents in the picture but sometimes that just isn't the situation. This is not just an issue for young mothers alone and in any case, is not an indication that she is any less fit to have a child than anyone else.
4. We're not "missing out"
Children are a blessing. A vast amount of people in their teens and early twenties are going to parties, prom, or spend their free time just hanging out. Personally I feel spending my time with my babies making memories is well worth missing times that I may or may not even remember years from now. At the end of life your parties and prom will not be nearly as important compared to moments with your children. 70 years from now no one is going to remember your popularity or what you were doing the summer you turned 20 but your children will still remember all the times you were there and they will keep your memory alive.
5. For some of us being a mother is the best thing that ever happened to us.
I got pregnant at 17. Before then I had no desire to do anything with my life. I was living one party to the next, working just enough to support my lifestyle. It was my child that gave me goals and a motivation to do better. She is the reason I don't party, why I want to further my education and make something of myself. I may have never wanted to do any of these things if not for my daughter.
So next time you see a young mother don't raise an eyebrow, offer unwanted advice or give a look of pity.
See her and realize age does not define her or her relationship with her children.
Understand that she is trying to be the best parent she can be and lastly that becoming a mother may be the best thing that ever happened to her.