I didn't realize I was bucking a trend when I decided to get pregnant in my early 20s. My husband and I just felt like it was time for us. We'd been married for several years; we'd already purchased our home; and we were ready for that next big step.
But this week an article from Early Mama blogger Michelle Horton, titled, "Are 20-something unwed moms the new teen moms?" has been making its rounds of the blogosphere, and even though I'm a married mom, I couldn't help but nod along. The article acknowledged something I've been feeling for years now, ever since my daughter was born. Starting a family in your 20s just isn't DONE these days.
When my husband and I go out with our daughter, we tend to be among the youngest parents in the place. It doesn't tend to bother me; I've always been a bit of an old soul, and I can relate just as easily with a mom 10 years my senior as a co-worker of the same age.
But when you pair the overwhelming number of older moms I meet with the myriad strange comments about young motherhood that I've encountered, I admit it can be isolating. From assumptions that I was a teen mother (I wasn't!) to the idea that I started early so I could be best friends with my child (I already have a husband for that, thank you very much), I wager I've heard it all by now.
And yet, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm still glad I had my daughter when I did -- just shy of my 23rd birthday. On behalf of young moms everywhere, here's why having a kid in your 20s rocks:
1. Finances: Imagine trying to juggle retirement with paying for college. I won't. My husband and I have it worked out so we will begin paying tuition just after we finish paying off our mortgage ... and we'll still have time to rebuild our nest egg for retirement.
2. Biological clock: I never heard it ticking. Starting when we did means I didn't go through a period of wondering if I should get cracking at childbearing. We talked about it, and then we started right away.
3. Fertility: It took us more than a few months to conceive, but I saw no reason to stress ... I had plenty of time left. I can only imagine what each month that passed with just one line on the stick would have done to me if I were feeling a time crunch.
4. Family: Having a child "young" when more moms are waiting means my kid is the same age as several of my cousins ... and the relationship blooming between them makes me all warm and gushy inside.
5. Empty Nesting: Let me be clear, I'm not looking forward to the day my daughter announces she's ready to live on her own. I'd like to keep her around for as long as possible. But I'll admit to flights of fancy about what my husband and I will be able to do when she goes off to college ... and we're still in our 40s.
6. Flexibility: Already I'm starting to feel what aging has done to my body. I'm not 17 anymore, but I'm still pretty darn good at getting down on the floor to play LEGOs or plop on the grass to watch her soccer practice. There are plenty of women who have bodacious bods well into their geriatric years, but I have a feeling I won't be one of them ...
7. Energy: This is another subjective thing. Some women have high energy levels no matter their age. I'm in my 30s and already feeling more exhausted than I did 10 years ago. I'm relieved I've been able to give my daughter my more energetic years considering what's inevitably to come.
8. Career: For some women children can negatively affect their career. For me it was very much the opposite. Motherhood helped me prioritize. Having my daughter inspired me to make some big changes on the career front that made me a happier person -- and a happier mom -- overall. Other moms in my boat have told me they were able to start before their career really got going; they avoided the disruption of a maternity leave at more crucial points in their work lives.
9. Memory: Plenty has changed since I was a kid in the '80s, but plenty has stayed the same too, from the same teachers to the same playground equipment at our local park. Our 23-year age gap allows me to use some of my own experiences as a kid to be a better mom to her ... experiences that would no longer be relevant if I'd waited.
10. Her Future: I'm caught between wanting my baby to stay little forever and an intense curiosity about what will happen for my daughter in the years to come. Will she be a writer like me? Go into computers like her dad? Chart a new course entirely? Will she get married? Will she have kids? Whatever happens, I intend to be around to see as much of it as possible, and if I come anywhere close to the life expectancy of an American woman, I stand to see a lot.
There are cons, of course, and this is not to say that a woman who gives birth in her 30s or even 40s is doing anything wrong. But this is for all the other 20-something moms out there who are feeling alone!
Are you a young mom? Why do you think it rocks?
Image via Jeanne Sager