How would you imagine the life of a recent college graduate? What immediately comes to my mind is someone in their early twenties working a 9-5 job and living with friends in the city; or maybe someone who is teaching or volunteering in an impoverished region of the United States or foreign country. I have friends doing many different things now that we have graduated college - exciting things, important things... and I would be doing something similar if I didn't have a son. When you think of a recent college graduate, you usually don't think of a 23-year old with an 8-month old son.
My Tuesday morning.
I'm living a counter-cultural life, because frankly not many 23-year olds are having babies. Not many 25-year olds are having babies for that matter. I have great friendships from college and from my adolescence that I hold very dear, but almost all of my friends lead a very different lifestyle than my own. Plainly said, I don't have many mom friends. I have one close friend who is pregnant and due in a few weeks, but we don't live that close to each other and getting together on a regular basis is difficult.
As much as I love being Jamesie's mama, I am having a difficult time finding other young mothers who I can relate to. I have starting going to play groups and library activities for babies in hopes of meeting other young mothers, and to allow Jamesie to interact with other babies his age (he is a social little man). So far I haven't met any mothers who are my age (or even close to it), or who share my interests and values. I'm still experimenting with different playgroups though, and I'm hoping to find something that feels right for myself and for Jamesie. I will meet some other mothers eventually, probably none that are my age, but that's simply the nature of my situation.
I've come to expect that when I walk into a mothers group meeting or library program for babies that I will be the youngest mother in the room by give or take 10 years. It's not like I was 17 when I got pregnant - I had my son when I was 22-years old. Sure that's young, but it's not that young, and it certainly isn't too young to be a mother. Even though I can't help but feel somewhat alone amongst an older mothering crowd, I am happy for my youth. It didn't used to be so unusual for women to start having babies in their early twenties, because honestly, it's easier.
My Thursday afternoon.
These were the kind of things I didn't think about before becoming a mother. Motherhood wasn't exactly on my mind when I became pregnant. I'm not suggesting that all my friends quit their jobs and start having babies - that would be irresponsible, and I do believe in children being raised by a mother and a father within the context of marriage (but... when babies come, they come!). I just can't help but notice how the culture of my generation discourages young motherhood. To even get married in your early twenties is out of the ordinary, but I think it would be wrong to doubt young marriages, or young mothers.
Now that I am 23 and I have a child, I know how great it is to be young and to be a mother. Strength and energy are essential for parents. Youth is without a doubt an advantage. So why are the vast majority of women waiting until their 30s to have children? It's harder on the body and it's harder on the baby. I think this is something most women realize a little too late.
It's like I have this fantastic secret that I just need to share. Sure I'm missing out on typical post-grad life, and I have much more responsibility than I otherwise would, but I'm living what most women my age are simply looking forward to (except marriage - I'm still looking forward to that one!). If you are in a position to have children, don't wait. A baby is the best gift you'll ever receive in life. Make sure that you don't miss out on it, because nothing can replace a child.
My Saturday night.