I have wanted to write about this subject for a while now and somehow never found the right words.
The way I became a mother is one that is often glossed over, or has a certain stigma attached. I write about it now in the hope that anyone else in the same boat will read my words and perhaps feel comfort to know that they are not alone.
Think of the words ‘young mum’. What do they conjure up for you? A mistake? Irresponsible? A certain kind of girl? Like I said: stigma.
Becoming a mother is both the hardest and the most wonderful journey. If you do it alone and without a support network or friends in the same boat, it can be even harder and lonely. This is one aspect that can be part of becoming a mother earlier in life. Your friends, your support network that you have built are just not on the same journey as you.
Of course there are mothers younger than I was but what I am writing about is becoming a mother before I was ready. When I was barely out of my teenage years. Growing up pregnant. I became pregnant when I had just turned 20. “It could be worse,” some said around me: “at least you are with the father”. Some spoke about whether I would keep the baby, a conversation that would never have happened if I had been older, or the baby ‘planned’.
This hurt. The doubts voiced about whether I could do it and some people’s reactions gave me more fuel to give space to my own self-doubt. My life was suddenly transported from considering whether to go back to uni, aimless fun, and what I should do on a Friday night to realising that my life would change beyond recognition. I did not know who I was or even what I wanted to do yet in life. This was only my second proper relationship and we were only six months into that.
I slowly realised that this tiny life growing inside me would need my whole self, would take me on a journey to the very edge of what I thought, at this point, I could handle, so I retreated within myself. My anxiety and fear became acute, and I didn’t feel ready. Of course, I had moments of excitement and my love grew for my baby but at times it still didn’t feel real.
I was embarrassed about walking into town as my belly grew and worried about what school friends and acquaintances would think of me. I hated hearing about all the amazing things others were doing, the holiday photos, gap year adventures. I felt stuck, like all that was over for me. There was so much I hadn’t done, things I didn’t know and when I think about myself here I see how far I have come. I still feel an element of embarrassment when other mums find out how old I am. Comments of “oh, you are so young” make me sad as I have had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.
The huge changes that becoming a mother brought about for me were magnified as I was also becoming an adult alongside. Learning new responsibilities for myself and my baby. Learning how to be in a relationship with someone all, of which had a lot of speed bumps.
Now seven-and-a-half years on and looking back I feel so proud of how far I have come, I have no regrets about becoming a mother. In fact, it made me. I have no doubt that I would be on a different path had I not become pregnant and yes, there were very dark times, very hard times, times of doubt and times where I missed opportunities - holidays, nights away that my closest and dearest friends were partaking in.
I had a period where these feelings of missing out were very strong and I felt very alone. I had one foot in how my life was before and one foot in my new life as a mother. I could never fully commit to either but slowly this changed. I realised as my son Felix grew and I saw how much he loved me, how much he needed me, how I felt when I was around him. I had something amazing and wonderful, and I he was a part of me. Life took on new meanings and my moments of joy and love were far deeper than I had ever experienced. New opportunities appeared, ones that I would never have known about or perhaps even considered before motherhood.
My life is now rich with adventure and chances to achieve my dreams - some old and some new that have been realised as I journeyed into motherhood. Becoming a mother for a second time has been another experience of growth and change. Being at a more socially acceptable age to have a baby and having had a baby already has meant that no one asked me if I could do it. No one asked me if I would keep the baby, I knew I could do it and I now had friends who were on the same journey. I felt less alone. I have wonderful friends, some who are from before motherhood and some who I have found after. I feel more balance to each aspect of my life when they were battling with each other before.
What I have learned on my journey (and I keep reminding myself of) is that I should never doubt my ability to do anything. Families come in all shapes and sizes, life has no rules. Women are amazing in their ability to change, develop and grow. There is no right way to do anything, only what is right for you. You are amazing, glorious, and SO capable and you should never ever doubt that.