After looking through old school friends’ photos on Facebook (oh the joys of a wasted hour or ten doing this) I’ve started to feel a little humbled. Where I’m from, teen pregnancy is not uncommon - in fact it’s a career choice for some - and having a baby at 15 is for most the end of an education; end of career prospects; end of their chance to break out of Croydon and see the world. But increasingly I’m starting to think that it’s this attitude towards teen mums that is in fact more detrimental to the mother than the having the child part.
Perhaps not teen mums, but girls of 19, 20, 21; not children but young people lacking the benefit of years of true life-blood, are being labelled Young Mums in a derogatory sense. Just because they haven’t trod the traditional path to parenthood, they plus child, are looked down upon as second-class citizens of society - why?
For me, getting too close to 23 for my liking, my priorities in life are beginning to change. Most people by the time they’re 21 have finished uni or have been working for a good few years, find a partner, settle down, marry, have kids, get a people-carrier, dog, caravan, colostomy bag - that’s the way it’s programmed into us to do it. But what if you shake up the mix a bit? Turn the series of events on its head and create your own passage to parenthood around the needs of life as they arise? Dawning on me that the number of girls in my year at school with kids and shock-horror, husbands, is increasing rapidly, I realised that having such a happy family set-up earlier in life is becoming more and more appealing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want a baby now, AT ALL. I find it hard to organise my workload, social life and eating schedule let alone the needs of a real screaming alien thing, but I reckon that push come to shove I’d find a way. As every mother does, doubting their ability until their little one is thrust into the world and they have to somehow, as if by psychic ability, know what to do and how to look after it. I’m just saying that the pessimist in me means I’m convinced I will be married twice and that although true love may be real - with today’s loser morals, grass is always greener attitude and general disregard for the institution of marriage - it’s certainly not strong enough to bind people together forever.
On this note I’m thinking I may as well get the children bit out the way sooner rather than later so I’ve got plenty of time to actually enjoy their company throughout life. With less emphasis on following your heart, following instead your bank balance, I’m wondering if this is the right way to go about things?
I digress: for my group of friends the lastest “Oh my god have you seen? So and so’s having a baby, god could you imagine? Nope me neither” type conversations were rife up until a few months ago until one of us confessed she could imagine getting engaged and having children with her current boyfriend. Not in a fairy-tale story way but in a real, heartfelt I-think-he-may-be-the-one kind of way, and we respected her for it.
What I’m trying to say is that yes, I do want a career and I’m working my upmost to get there so that when the time is right for me to start popping out those screaming - and largely adorable - critters, that I’ll have the financial standing and resources in place for baby, family and house to give the child it’s best start in life. But just because that’s my way of doing things; a pre-planned strategic attack on parenthood, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.
What people have to understand is that it can actually all backfire for career girls; they may focus so hard on reaching that financial security that once there, the distinct lack of male attention due to all those texts they didn’t have time to reply to, phone calls they were too busy to take and dates that were postponed/rearranged/forgotten, that the the baby-making element of the family has dropped off the radar.
So for those school friends who are looked down on by society for not approaching the family conundrum the traditional way, I salute you. In fact I’d go so far as to say I envy these young mothers and the sterling job they’re doing, having someone in the world that they love more than life itself and know they’d give the world for at the drop of a hat (and other such cliches); it must be a pretty powerful feeling.
They have the rest of their lives to do the getting wise bit and as long as young mums are not sponging off the state and supporting their families the legitimate way, surely parenthood is an education in itself that the National Curriculum would be hard pushed to teach? In a time when university tuition fees push the possibility of higher education out the window for a large proportion of society; it brings the option of having a young family just that little bit closer to home. And who’s to say that’s wrong?
Images: utreja via Instagram/ angiec via Instagram