11/09/2016

on doing things young...

I recall, quite strongly, the moment I realised I wanted to get married and start a family. I was at University, the journalism teachers seemed so incredibly heartless and soul-sucking, and I'd just had enough. I was depressed. I knew I didn't want to be a journalist, that I didn't have the "whatever it takes" drive, and I just wanted to be happy. I wanted/needed/craved security and I wanted the close-knit family I'd always dreamed of.

So I got engaged. My paid internship turned into a full time job {where I got to dabble with website work and use my love for editing HTML}. I got married and was pregnant with B. one month later. A year of maternity leave turned into me resigning from my job and becoming a stay-at-home mum. I don't regret any of it but there's a comment I get a lot {even now} and it's -- but you're so young! Sure, I think a lot of people who seem surprised that I'm actually 29 {are you serious? I thought you were 19!} aren't being entirely honest but there's a resounding comment that's followed me for the past 8 years and it is always based on my age.

Yes, I got engaged at 21. I was married and pregnant at 22 and had B. at 23. For me, that wasn't really young at all. In fact, I felt terribly old, terribly hardened, and in desperate need of some stability in my life. I've mentioned before that I didn't have the best childhood and until I met Husband I had never felt loved. That's on my {mostly} crappy family and on me because I know that my mental health has played a large part in this. When this University realisation hit me the first thing I did was to tell Husband that I was ready to get married. He'd been mentioning it for a year, or so, before this and my resounding answer was always a very firm: no fucking way! I never wanted to get married {terrible role models and all that} and I never wanted kids {more terribleness}.

For me doing things in my early twenties wasn't difficult. I wasn't missing out on anything. I knew what I wanted and how to get it. I wanted to start a family. Being pregnant wasn't a huge sacrifice. I wasn't selfish. I knew what to give up and did so happily. Marriage came with its hard parts but it wasn't that much different to being in a relationship/engaged. If I'm honest, it all came rather easily. Sure, life has had its setbacks. We had growing pains. We had to learn how to communicate fairly but I feel grateful that we got to grown in adulthood together.

For me, life has never been based on what age I "should" do things or what society deems "okay". I've always followed my gut and I did so here. Yes, it kind of really fucking sucked that some people's first comments to an engaged twenty-one year old is "the next one will really work out" or "you're twenty-one you don't know what you want!". Comments on immaturity reign supreme. And then, after the pregnancy announcement, "you're way too young to have a baby", "was it an accident?", "you don't know what you're doing."

Mostly, comments like these are ignored because, look, I've been married for six years. I have an amazing five year old so, clearly, I actually do have a clue. But isn't it frustrating that because someone is "so young" we feel as though we have a right to comment and judge and hurt? That we can't just shut our mouth and give help when it's asked for? And what if I had gotten divorced one year in? Or never made it down the aisle? Or drank throughout my pregnancy? Or not known how to be a mum and ran off? What then...?

Would my age be solely to blame? Because I've known much older women who have done these things and more. 

The question I get most asked now is: what if Bailey does the same as you did?

And to this -- I'd hope that she's mature. That she's ready. That she found unconditional love. And if not I'd be ready to help her, to support her, to love her and to shut my mouth.

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