What’s it like having your first child when you’re kinda young? And what does ‘kinda’ mean, anyway…? It’s purely human to want to belong to a group and to categorise the world around us. We do this with lots of things (and yes, it also causes problems, especially when values and judgements are involved). In fact, we do this even when we don’t want to think in terms of categories. Parenthood is just one of the many realms subjected to this ubiquitous need. I guess there’s just no way to stop it.
But the youngish mum doesn’t really belong to any obvious group. She’s a floater. Had she lived in a different era such as the seventies, then she would have found herself surrounded by women having their first baby at the same age. But nowadays, things are different, and in the majority of countries that means being around 29 or 30 when the first kid arrives. Most quintessential ‘career women’ are further in their thirties even.
The youngish mum is by definition a minority in our modern society. She is the first one of her close friends to have a baby, so there may not be many people (apart from relatives) to provide her with solid tips and advice. She is also one of the youngest parents-to-be in her childbirth class and only has older co-workers with small kids, or none at all. She definitely feels like peers in her wider circle are still in a different life stage. It’s kind of lonely and does leave her feeling young, vulnerable and wondering whether she’s truly ready… Well, if you believe society’s word, having a baby at 25 is a bit too much rush if you have any hope of establishing a successful career.
She is young enough that people are surprised when she announces her pregnancy, yet too old for people to wonder whether it’s unplanned. She is (luckily) no longer young enough to get rude comments about her age. She is also too old for any sort of young mums’ support network that focuses on stuff like counselling. When she joins a Facebook Group for young-mum-but-not-teen-mum meet-ups, she actually notices that everyone is 20, 21 or 22 (23 appears to be the upper limit). She’s no longer at an age that people worry about her ability to get by with a child, but she may still feel like she needs some extra support, depending on her unique situation and how stable her life is.
It’s all a bit confusing and contradictory and she doesn’t know what people truly think about mums(-to-be) at 24, 25 or 26, such as herself. But what is obvious is that it’s an age somewhere, but not exactly, in the middle of extreme ends on the spectrum. It’s neither young-young nor is it average. It’s simply youngish. And that group is quite invisible in this day and age. These are my observations after two pregnancies, of which one miscarriage at the age of 24 and the birth of my rainbow baby boy at the age of 25. We should look out for one and another and connect, since we can probably relate to each other in ways we can’t relate to the mums that are older or even younger than us.
PS I’m aware and respect that there is a wide range of interpretations of age and motherhood – this whole blog post would be completely inaccurate in some geographical locations and socio-economic classes.