Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m not that young. I’ll be 31 shortly after my 3rd arrives this summer! The problem is I have a baby face. And while I’ll be thankful for it when I’m in my 50s or 60s, at the moment it’s mostly annoying, especially when assumptions are made about my mothering capabilities…
I used the fun app at how-old.net and got results between 15-27… I get asked if my parents are home when answering the door. It is sometimes assumed I’m the babysitter or nanny when out with my kids. I get comments about how young I am to be ____. And when it comes to my job, I understand. Experience and wisdom come with age, and those are good qualities for someone in my position so I’m not offended.
When it comes to me as a mother, I don’t love the assumption that goes along with being young. I happen to know some amazing mothers (and soon to be mothers!) younger than me, and some amazing mothers older than me. I also happen to watch the news occasionally and know that “bad moms” (like literal law breaking ones, not the funny ones who drink one too many glasses of wine and make PTA less lame) come in all ages too. I’m a bit of an old soul and have never felt my age anyway, so maybe that is why it stings even more when someone: 1) assumes I’m a “young” mom and 2) I’m not as good as a “more mature” mom, since mentally I’m about 45. 🙂
Yes, yes, we have shows like teen mom to prove how badly things CAN go, but we also have a plethora of examples that prove the opposite! I guess it just blows my mind that in this day and age we are still looking at a person and applying stereotypes like that. Yes, I do it to others sometimes, I’m not perfect, but the frequency with which comments are made blows my mind. Have we not evolved at all? Not to mention that on average the age of first time moms in the US is at an all time high at a whopping 26, which happens to be the age I was when my first was born! If this were 1970, we’d all be popping out babies by our 22nd birthday. Also, can we talk about the different experience my husband has as a young dad?! He gets all the glory and admiration when he takes the kids out, and I get the judgment. I digress, but still WHY the need to say ANYTHING?
I’m of the belief that, especially when interacting with strangers, it’s better to say either something positive and unspecific or nothing at all. “You’re doing an amazing job!” “They are adorable!” “Look at how clever he is!” “I can tell she is a lot of fun!” Is preferred to “You are so young to have your hands so full!” “He is so tiny/huge!” “I bet she’s acting that way because she’s tired.”
I know that most of you reading this are not the people saying these things, because you know. But if you are a young mom, know that there are “less young” moms who see you and support you, and know you’re doing an awesome job! We’re all on this crazy rollercoaster together, and there is no perfect age to have a baby.