Young, Dumb, First-time Mum is what I labelled myself as, both on my blog and as my book title. Or rather, it's the narrow box I feel I've been unwittingly compressed into. It felt 'fitting' for the audience of scrutinizing judges, inspecting my parenting performance.
Having my now two-year-old son at just twenty years old (a very happy accident, I would like to add) was a definitive and immediate clause to establish me as an incapable mother. Like a rather harsh smack in the face, I, quite instantly, felt strained and pressured by the expectations put forth. I was set up to fail, to be just another young inadequate mother with a wailing newborn that's distressing (colic) shrieking confirmed my incompetence.
My visibly young features evaluate me impotent. When declaring my age, I am dictated useless, and met with the familiar, inane snide glares, an exasperated tut. My own decision to become a single parent has assessed me a failure to my son, having, irrespectively, sacrificed his chance of a stable upbringing and his mental health will be the price. He will grow up having two homes, Christmas' with Dad and ones without, set days and parents who struggle to agree on, well, basically anything. Having a baby so young concludes me a failure to contrive the parts that equip me a successful mothering milk machine of origami nappy changing and posed Instagram snaps.
So young I am, my life only really about to take off, opportunities now to slip by, the possibility of a fulfilled life, discarded without thought. What a waste, my life now deemed over.
The stereotype perceived as a 'good mum' is, well, what exactly? What brands me as favourable in my role as a mother? What devises me to receive the 'Exceptional, I Didn't Kill My Child, And All Ten Toes Have Been Accounted For, mother of the year award'? Is there an age bracket? A box to tick? An expected image I must flaunt? At what point in the rollercoaster of parenting do I reach the phase where I no longer feel this pressing urge to explain myself or feel as though my every parenting choice and failure is being studied under the microscope by a sea of strangers?
Quite frankly, I'm bored of the snarky comments, the disapproving looks. This cavalier attitude society has toward young parents.
I'm tired of gritting my teeth through the snide passing comments. The grimaces as I feel myself being conspicuously dissected on my parenting capability based on my ability to calm a supermarket meltdown or the half-arsed McDonalds I suggested as a quick and easy lunch.
What happened to not judging someone by a perceived premise? I'm exhausted of this dismal feeling like I have something I'm supposed to prove or that there are expectations I need to acquire before I can be considered a "fit" enough mum before I can myself to everyone.
My age cannot and, will not ever, be able to fathom my ability as a mum. Nor will it ever be able to comprehend the limitless and consuming love and adoration that fuels me to be the best example to my little boy. My heart has never felt fuller than when I became a mother for the first time, a life without my son is unthinkable, completely unimaginable. My life is not my own any longer; it's all for him. He has filled a silence that, for so long, was deafening.
Stop with the surmising, stop spewing assumptions and don't ever presume that I don't do anything other than the very best for my whole world.
P.S. My life, by the way, is in fact not over, it has only just begun.
Written by Taylor Martin
Young, Dumb, First Time Mum book on Amazon now