With older, new mums outnumbering young mums for the first time ever in 2014, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve changed as a person and a mother in the last ten years. Last week I turned 31, I know, not THAT old but certainly a lot older than the fresh-faced 21 year old that became a mother a decade ago. But since turning 30, I’ve had the best year EVER, I’ve absolutely loved it and I’m actually looking forward to 31 ‘cos the fab-ness just keeps on rollin’! 30’s rock, and becoming a new-mum again at 30 was, and is, bloody awesome.
Rewind 10 years… At the time I was pretty sure I was ready for the turbulence of motherhood. I had the husband, the house, a dressed nursery and the right buggy, I was all set, non?! NO! When a screaming bundle of joy came hurtling into my life, sending me into a tail-spin I was in no way prepared. My age and naivety also led me to believe that if I didn’t look as though I had it all under control: dinner cooked, house tidied to perfection and hair immaculate, then I had somehow failed and everyone would know. I didn’t want to ask for help; I didn’t want to say “I feel shit!” and I certainly wasn’t able to admit that it wasn’t easy. I was a young mum, telling the world I was proud, as I would have the energy to play with my kids and still be young when they flittered off to uni in 18 years time.
But what I had in energy and wrinkle free skin, I lacked massively in patience, an-inner calm that can only come with age, self-love and stability. Inside the 21 year old body was a crying, lonely, exhausted girl – watching her friends travel and carve careers, whilst I struggled to breast-feed and looked for remedies for colic. I felt as though I didn’t fit in – was everyone thinking “oh, look, she’s too young!” (needless to say this was only in my head), in my middle-class surroundings I was the odd one out; with no mums my age, no insta-mums to connect with and with motherhood yet to become “cool”, I was lonely, very lonely. This was not the “perfect” life I’d imagined after marriage or the advertised motherhood sold to me by Boden catalogue.
A lot can be said for my mental state at the time, when, Hugo turned 5 months, we discovered we were pregnant again, and thought it was a good idea to give him a sibling. So having just turned 23, I had a 14 month old, a new-born, a house move and a decaying marriage on my hands, not to mention the elephant in the room at this point – the post-natal depression.
I’m not saying my struggle was solely down to my young age, nor am I saying other young mums aren’t loving every second – but when I look back at that time in my life, it felt like a was stuck on a 1400 spin-cycle. Had I not had Casper, I may have just thought that all mothers with babies felt this way. Being a mum at 30 has shown me, I have the ability to enjoy motherhood – not, as I’d affirmed for the last 8 years: I’m not really a baby person – being a stay at home mum isn’t really me!
In the 10 years since first becoming mum to Hugo and Bruno, I faced my demons and asked for help with depression, my husband and I parted ways, I’ve lived as a single mum, I’ve found a career I love, I met the man who completes my weirdness, and, most importantly, I learnt to be happy with myself. I’m a firm believer that in order to be the best mum you can, you have to love and be happy with yourself – you have to know you’re the best person for the job of mum and own it! Unfortunately, in my case, this was only something that could came with age.
I was astounded when I googled “young mum or older mum” that the most frequent answer was to pitch which one is best. The truth is, it will always be hard but it will always be worthwhile – young or old, you’re still EVERYTHING to that one little person (or three!).
This is beautiful. I was 36 when I had my daughter and, as prepared as I felt, the confusion of the early weeks was still a shock to the system – I don’t think I (me; not all 21 year olds) could have coped at 21 and, when I failed to cope, I wouldn’t have known who or how to ask for help. I’m in awe of young mums who manage this.
I can totally relate. I had my daugther at 23 followed by my younger daughter at 29. Even though I was alone and no one to relate or communicate with in my age group, I’ve concluded I made the right choice. At 37, I just can’t imagine starting with a baby now. I was young and maybe naive and inexperienced but I coped well and just got on with it. No internet or specialists or press was telling me what to do. I just dealt with every situation as best I could. My main aim was to teach my girls discipline, respect and being genuinely nice people. Compared to my sister who had her first child at 36, I went by my instinct and common sense. She makes some of her decisions by books and what the internet experts say. I already see the difference in how she’s bringing her little girl up. I’m still considered “young” by other mums at school gates. I’m definitely the odd one out. But I can see they struggle more. They are tired more. Less energy, patience and some even don’t care anymore about how their children behave in public. Apparently kids are naughty. Well, they might be and hence should be corrected by an adult. They don’t see it that way and say I’m too strict. I guess that’s the difference I see between young and older mums. At any age, we all have our struggles. It’s the way we deal with them makes all the difference on how it impacts our kids and next generations.