Welcome back to week #9 of the #YoungMumsProject. This week we are joined by the lovely Melissa sharing her experience as a young mum.
To begin, I’ll tell you why I decided to do this guest post, as to me that’s the most important thing. I completely agree that so many young mums feel totally alone, you think that’s it’s just you in that situation and everyone else seems to have their life sorted, whilst you’re ironing some baby leggings with a hair straightener because you’ve got approximately four minutes to get the baby to nursery before you’re due to start college and be ‘normal’. If this post can make at least one other girl, feel like she is a queen and she can do whatever she wants, despite being a young mum, then I’ll feel like I’ve done a good job. So, who am I?
I’m Melissa, I’m 26 now and I have a 10 year old girl, yes 10, and a 20 month old little boy.
I’m a single mum, well, not single in the sense that their dads aren’t involved because they are, but single in the sense that if I get in, put the kids to bed and realise I’ve got no wine to get me through the evening, there’s no guy going to get it for me! I’ve had two long term incredibly loving relationships in my life, and my children both have loving fathers who are very much part of their life, just sadly not as I’d always wished. I’m a primary school teacher and us three and the two kittens live in an incredibly girly yet kind of organised semi in the grand old town of, wait for it, Scunthorpe. So that’s who we are, me and my tribe!
Personally, I’ve found life as a young mum, incredibly tough yet very rewarding. I found out I was pregnant at the age of 15, when all I was focused on was who would get me some alcohol on a Friday, and not which pram I would need to choose. I was a clever girl, and I’m not suggesting that that makes me any better than anyone else, but I was not the stereotypical person other people would assume would get pregnant and more to that point nor did I. I was careless and I was irresponsible, probably like 90 percent of most teens and it just well, it just happened. I remember doing the test and not having a clue what was about to hit me, and to be honest I don’t think it ever truly hit me until I actually had Lilly. To cut a very long story short, when I’d found out I was pregnant, I was about 14 weeks along. I had options, but in my head, I was always going to have the baby. I went to appointments, everyone told me what I should do, and all I knew is what I wanted. She was mine and I was her mum and that was that. Being pregnant at that age is one of the scariest things I’ve ever endured, not because of the actual physical act of carrying a baby, but dealing with everyone’s reactions. To put it into perspective, I’m 26 now and I look around early twenties on a good day, so I genuinely looked about 13 and pregnant. I get it, I do, that it’s not the norm to see a girl that’s heavily pregnant, but people would stare, they’d laugh, they’d judge and now I look back and think that those people stole the joys of that pregnancy from me because they made me feel ashamed.
I did my GSCES as the mum of a baby who was a few months old, and people always say ‘how did you manage’ and I don’t have the answer. All I know is, that I’m a very determined person and I think that well and truly kicked in and I knew I had no other choice. I then went to college, sat my A-levels, and then went to university to train to be a teacher. I didn’t take any time out and I don’t think I deserve any praise for that, I did it because I was a mum, and I had this little girl relying on me to build her a whole life, and that’s what I was going to do. Through college I was lonely, I had a handful of friends but at 17, other people aren’t so forgiving of the fact that you had a baby so young. Be it naivety, or immaturity, but the comments and looks from people shattered my confidence. I’m just grateful for the few friends I did have in that time and extremely thankful for the absolutely wonderful group of friends I made at university who loved me for me, not me as a mum. That would be the main lesson I learnt, don’t allow people to make you feel any less of a person because you’re a young mum. Young mums are brave, they’re strong and the deserve the world, even if you are picking Weetabix out of your hair and wiping poo off your work dress with a wet wipe at 9.15 after you’ve already seen approximately 20 people. Studying was hard, but it gave me an incentive, I had a reason to achieve and she was all the driving force I needed to be up until 1 in the morning eating with a spoon out of an ice cream tub and writing the 5724 word of my dissertation.
I found that once I’d graduated as a teacher, people viewed me differently when they knew, like I was suddenly worthy of praise and for people to think that id completed this huge feat. I always ask myself, if I hadn’t have trained and got a career, would I still be being judged now? How would that be fair? I distinctly remember visiting a midwife when I became pregnant with my second child, and her face turning when she asked me if I had any previous children. She was so judgemental just in her looks and I felt like I was right back there when I was 16 in hospital giving birth. This continued, until she asked my job, and then suddenly she was my best friend. I’ve always felt under so much pressure to achieve and have my crap together 24/7 so that no one can judge me and that’s the second thing I’ve learnt. The only person who is worthy of making any judgement against you, is you. Don’t feel under pressure, don’t scrub your house for hours when you’re shattered because a health visitor is visiting, don’t think you all need to look pristine all the time just because you’ve got something to prove. Live your life for you and your family, and don’t care about anyone else.
Being a mum is tough, regardless of if your 15 or 45. Your age is irrelevant, all that matters is the amount of love you can give your children and how many times you can listen to Peppa Pig without losing your own sanity. Being a young mum has its advantages, like having all the energy in the world to do fun things with them, having a lifetime of experiences together, being able to relate to them as they get older. But alongside that comes the disadvantages, not having a wealth of life experiences, not being as financially stable as you’d like to be, not having travelled or partied as much as others.
Thank you for reading, and I hope that if you’re young mum out there, right now and struggling, that you’ve at least
got some positivity from this. On the days that you think things won’t ever be easier, trust me, they will and your child is going to grow up knowing what a brave, courageous queen you are and they’re going to be forever proud of you. Live your life in exactly the way you want to. If you want to get a sitter and go out, do it! Life is all about balance and let’s face it, if being a young mum doesn’t drive you to alcohol at times, are you even a young mum?! Have faith and trust it will always work out for the best, because you’ve made it this far.