Fairly often I notice that parenting or pregnancy magazines run an article on ‘the best age for motherhood’. They usually cover your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, not your teens because ( I assume ) they don’t want to be seen to be encouraging teen pregnancy.
I’ve somehow managed to have a baby in each decade of my life,
I will not be trying out in my 40’s in case you wanted to know. So while I’m no expert I thought I might go through my experience of mothering at different ages and life stages.
Cobain my babe with the pixie ears came along when I was 17. Pregnancy with her was quite easy physically and I attended high school until she was born. While I suffered with nausea I didn’t try the various remedies that I used recently with Eve’s pregnancy because I wasn’t well informed, not because I didn’t care. A combination of a very old school OB, the lack of the fabulous resource that is the internet and minimal support around me meant that for better or worse I went with the flow. The relatively uneventful pregnancy ended with an “emergency” caesarian for breech positioning. I was put under, kept in the dark as to what was going on and kept apart from my newborn for hours after the delivery. This lack of assistance continued throughout the newborn adjustment period and eventually manifested as a challenge to prove myself to those who questioned my ability to parent. Being a teen mum was the hardest parenting experience I have ever had, not because of my baby, but because of the judgement of others. I learned pretty quickly to let that roll off me and enjoy my lovely little girl. That is the most important parenting lesson that I take from parenting in my teens, go with your gut. The instinct to do what’s right is always there, even when it means admitting you don’t know what you’re doing and getting help, listening to that voice inside is key.
Aquaman my sweet, cuddly little man arrived six weeks before my 21st birthday, 3 and 1/2 years after Cobain. In the years between the two I worked two jobs, bought a home and got married all in the name of proving myself (this drive was in some ways a blessing and others a curse). I spent much of the pregnancy arming myself with information and preparing. Preparing to ensure that i wasn’t steamrolled in to another caesarian, misinformed in to failing breastfeeding and pushed in to parenting defensively. Parenting was easier in some ways, I knew the basics and was determined to have things my way. It was harder in others because I still only had two hands and now had a toddler in one and a baby in the other. The time seemed to pass more quickly with two little ones, working full time and trying to manage an unhealthy, unhappy marriage. But in that time my two lovely kids provided an abundance of joy and brought me my closest friend, whose babies were similar ages. Support of a good friend and other babies for mine to play with were a priceless asset. What I take most from parenting in my 20’s is that determination to do it your own way is only valuable if your way is really yours. Your 20’s is a fairly socially acceptable age to have babies so the pressure to perform that was there with my first did not exist. But at 20 I still didn’t know who I was, having two babies didn’t change that or leave a lot of time to actively pursue that self understanding . Time spent knowing who you are is valuable to you, naturally, but it’s also a gift to your children. Thankfully as my babies grew so did I enabling me to encourage them to be themselves at a much earlier age than I did.
Parenting in my 30’s, well I’m only four months in to parenting Eve, but I’m also 16 years in to parenting in total. It’s so much easier, so much more fun, so much harder physically and emotionally. The freedom of being older and hopefully wiser is also tied to the desire to provide an idyllic childhood for my last baby. It’s a very mixed situation not unlike any parenting experience. As for what to take as a lesson from parenting in my 30s well I’ll get back to you in a few years…
Do you find your age influences how you parent?