I am 22 years of age. I am also a mother. Therefore am I a 'young mother?'
Apparently I am. I'm 'young, very young'.
Does this affect my ability to bring up my son? Will it prohibit his development and hinder his chances in life? Will he grow up in poverty and miss out on vital opportunities that he may have had if his mother was 30? Will he be exposed to a life of poor health and living on benefits?
Absolutely not. So why is my age such an issue?
I am not a 15 year old mother. I was 22 when I gave birth to my son, who, by the way, was very much planned for. Even if I were 15, why couldn't I have given my son the best possible life, regardless of age. Some of the best mother's I know were teen mums.
Yes I'm classed as 'young' but I have my own lovely house; I drive and own my own car; I have a good education and have an excellent class teaching degree. I have manners, class (if I do say so myself haha!) and I like to think that I am a bloody good mother.
So what's the problem?
Recently, I went to my local children's centre to enquire about baby massage and other groups that I could take Freddie too. I used my own initiative to figure out that these groups would be beneficial to his development in the long term so along I went.
I got talking to the lady who ran the centre who seemed very pleasant. We talked about my teaching degree as she was also an ex teacher, we chatted about my recent move to the area and about Freddie. I then filled in a form with all of my details; one of which being my date of birth. I handed the form over and the lady began to read my details. And said...
'Oh, you're young. Very young'.
What the hell does that mean? Am I excluded from these classes because of my age. I sincerely hope not!
Maybe she was shocked? Maybe I look older than my years? Maybe I sound older? Maybe it was because I'd talked to her about my teaching career?
Either way, I took offence at the way she made that comment. It seemed like there was negative connotations because of my age. I felt excluded because of my age. I felt judged as a parent; something no one should ever do. The only person entitled to judge me as a parent will be my son.
So anyway, it got me thinking. Will my son be affected because of my age?
I recently read in a magazine that scientists now say that according to recent UK studies, in the long term, children of older mums are healthier and more intelligent than those born to younger mothers. According to the study older mother's are less impulsive, have better parenting skills and have more life experience that makes them better equipped for parenting...
But again... how old is an 'older mother?'
If you're over 30 it seems like you have bag films of cash, an excellent job and the patience of a saint.
On the flip side, if you're younger than 30; you have unimaginable amounts of energy and are great 'fun' as a parent.
It seems to me that none of us can win. As they say, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. At the end of the day, it appears to be simple...
If you love your child with all your heart and do your upmost best by them, then surely age is only number; not a indication of your parenting skills?
So yes, I may be young. I don't have bag fulls of cash however nor do I have bag films of energy however I have a heart that is full of love for my son. That's what makes a mother, not a number.