In honor of my 24th birthday just passing, I figured I would address the infamous saying that makes me cringe. I've been hearing this statement since I first began my journey through motherhood, nearly five years ago.
I was in my second semester of my freshman year in college when I found out I was pregnant with Christian. I had just returned to campus from attending a conference over spring break, when I decided I needed to go to Health Services. I had experienced a good deal of nausea and headaches the week prior, attributing the symptoms to the stomach bug. The nurse advised me that they were going to run a pregnancy test, "just as a precaution". Then she sat down to tell me how I could overcome the nausea.
Minutes later, she stood up and walked over to the test. As she turned around, the words slipped out of her mouth.. "Honey, It's looking positive." It was a surprise to say the least. Immediately, she started rambling off my options, "You could look into adoption. Or there's always termination, the University can assist you with that." Never in a million years would I consider that an option, and I was appalled that it was said so easily. I stormed out of the office, and began walking back to my dorm. I knew my life had changed forever, but I never thought of it as a negative change.
I called Mike. He wasn't answering, and then I called my mom. I didn't have to say a word. She knew I was going to the doctor that morning and when I was silent she simply said, "I know. But it's okay. You'll finish school. We will do whatever we have to do to be sure of that. I love you. I support you." The words never had to be said and yet my mom knew exactly what to say to calm me. She has and always will be my rock, and my number one supporter.
Over the next nine months, I would be faced with a lot of judgment and looks of disappointment. Luckily, I had the love and support of so many around me, and the backbone to stand up for what I believe in.
I was only two months pregnant when I spoke on my pregnancy in one of my classes. We were studying the 1950s versus today. The topic of discussion was family. The class was filled with mostly female students. Most of them with the belief that they would never put their career "on hold" for a family. As words spewed throughout the room, I felt my blood boil. "It's not acceptable to have a child before you're thirty." And that one statement put me over the edge.
I stood up and made my proclamation. I disagreed and I wanted everyone to know why. I know that this child wasn't planned. But this baby was my child and I would do anything for my unborn child, but I would also fulfill my dreams. I knew that it wasn't what everyone around me envisioned as ideal, but I would make it my ideal. And five years later, I can tell you, I wouldn't have it any other way. The negativity and doubt only pushed me harder. I would finish college. I would find a job that I was passionate about. I would have this baby and care for him in the best possible way. And I would do all of this despite of what people thought of me. Despite of the people believing I was too young. I through around scientific statements regarding the "biologically appropriate age for childrearing". I claimed that maturity, not age is what defines a person. That a 19 year old could take care of a child, just as there are 30 year old women who cannot.
Five years later, I still hear it. "You're so young." The difference now? I look back at them and smile. Yes, I am young, but I have made a very happy life for my young family. I, we, have succeeded. All the while, I still have my whole, young life, ahead of me.