I was a young mom at the age 21 of when I had my oldest son. With that came the perks of bouncing back quickly after birth, having plenty of energy regardless of those sleepless nights, and keeping up with a small toddler who never ran out of energy.
But, sometimes I had insecurities about my age, about other moms and parents knowing how young I was. I was scared they would judge me for lack of knowledge, judge me for lack of life experience I had before having children, and think of themselves as superior to me as older and wiser parents.
It was an internal struggle with how others saw me from the outside, competing with the knowledge that my age didn’t affect the way I loved my child, and what that meant.
It took years to get past those insecurities.
I am a college-educated woman, I do my research as a parent, and I love being a mom. I love being his mom, and after a while, those insecurities passed. Friendships with parents of all ages grew, and the support I felt as a woman, as a mom, and as a person who was trying her best, and giving her all began to define me.
As my son grows older, I appreciate the advice I get from other parents, parents who are the same age as me or older. I find the process of learning to be a parent comes more from the experience of parenting and less from the years I had to mentally prepare for it.
Recently, my 7-year-old brought up that they were talking about the ages of parents in a small group of friends at school (as all seven-year-olds do, I guess?), and the topic of how much younger his dad and I were than his friends’ parents was brought up. We had a discussion that everyone takes a different path to parenthood, and some parents could’ve been parents of older children as well to widen the gap.
By the end of the conversation, we came to the conclusion that there are steps to take before having children to prepare yourself, but after that everyone chooses their own path and every path looks different than the next. Mine looked different than the path of his friends, but the love I had for him was no different.
There is no right age that will legitimize you as a mom.
It is the age that you love your child enough to try to be the best human you can be for them, the mornings you spend making them lunch over a few cups of coffee, the hours we all spent making homeschool work in a year that none of us expected, and the tears after a scraped knees that turn into giggles because we made a fool out of ourselves to make them feel better. It is the tears of joy we all spill over the years as we watch our children grow up and know we have been given the greatest gift in the world.
No matter what age you are, 24, 34, or 40… no one really knows what they are signing up for as a parent. The anticipation sets in our hearts when heading into labor, or into that surgery, or you sign those adoption papers, and that wave of love engulfs you the first time you hold your baby, or welcome that new child into our family.
We all learn as we go, and no book or advice can fully prepare you for the journey of motherhood. I felt no less or more of a parent with my next son, and feel if we choose to have more children, or adopt, that age has not defined our love for our children. There are many things that legitimize us as parents, age is not one of them.