I’m back this month with a blog post article I’ve had floating around for awhile now and it was sparked by a conversation I had with one of my friends (also a young Mummy). We chatted about how we used to think or feel at times that we weren’t good enough because of the fact we were a young Mum. Crazy right? But it happens to the best of us.
So if you’re ever in the boat where you feel like any of the following;
- No one talks to you at the daycare/school pick up/drop off and you know it’s “because you’re a young Mum”
- That person was rude/mean/disrespectful to you because you’re a young Mum
- You feel like you’ll never be able to earn decent money or have an exciting career because you had kids young and RUINED your chances
- You feel extra sensitive and defensive about being judged for your age
- You feel like hiding how old you really are from the older Mums/anyone because they won’t like you if they know the truth
- You feel like you play ‘make believe’ sometimes and play along to whatever stereotype you have in your head about how a Mum should REALLY look and act like. Maybe even sometimes you fib about that to people.
And if you think you may have a bit of a Young Mum complex going on that’s not working in your favour, here are my tips to banish it for good:
Don’t Be a Sponge For Other People’s Beliefs (Unless they align with yours)
One of the biggest things I struggled with when I was a first time Mum at 20 was that I started to take on other people’s negative beliefs about my age and having a baby. I didn’t go into it with a negative viewpoint, in fact far from it. I had the support of my family and partner. I was excited about being a Mum. Yes, I do think there was some blind optimism about that with a sweet dose of naivety – but isn’t that one of the best things about being a young person?! It’s having that sense of wonder and excitement and possibility for the future and feeling that you can do anything before it’s stamped out of you. I had this but I acknowledge some people don’t (and again, that will be from absorbing the negative beliefs of family/friends who frowned upon young motherhood).
When outside people started questioning my decision with negative undertones, I really took that onboard. I know now that another aspect of being a young person is you’re still figuring your identity out. Throwing the label ‘Mum’ into that identity can be a big one (and it is for women of ANY age) so it’s really important that you don’t shape your beliefs about yourself and being a Mum from negative people. Don’t take on their beliefs and add it to your sense of identity because that can really work against you.
What might happen from that point onwards is that you carry that ‘filter’ and negative belief about yourself into every new situation you go to and into every new relationship you start to form.
Which leads me to:
Take Each New Situation And Relationship As It Is (without any filters)
When you’re meeting new people or in a new situation for the first time, accept everything as it is right then and there.
Try not to go into it thinking “this new Mum won’t like me because I’m younger than her” or “I’m not even going to share that I’m a Mum because he looks judgmental” or “why bother if I’m just going to be judged or subject to criticism anyway.”
There is always the risk that someone new will say something critical or offensive. There is always that risk. But don’t let it stop you from trying to make a new friend or being brave in sharing who the real you is.
The truth is, when we are open and honest about who we are – it can help filter out the kind of people you want to have in your life. If someone is mean or negative towards you being a young Mum – do you want them around? If another Mum makes a comment about you being younger and seems really put out about it and thinks she has to talk to you about Justin Bieber or hashtags to try and relate to you – do you want to be friends with someone like that?
I found that every time I thought ‘fuck it – I’m going to just be honest about who I am’ it led to me meeting really cool people and other Mums of all ages. And they liked me for who I was not because of how old I was.
Practice Feeling Confident About Who You Are
This is a tough one. Because now that I’m almost 30 I can honestly say that I have so much more confidence about who I am and my parenting choices than I did 10 years ago. That confidence grew with time and learning, repeatedly, to have my own back when others didn’t. That’s why I encourage you to practice your inner confidence. Having confidence in yourself will be the only defence mechanism you need. When people quip that I’m quite young to have three kids, I smile and say “I am!” with genuine enthusiasm. I focus on the positives of my situation and I feel proud of everything I work hard towards for my family.
Think of your confidence as a muscle. The more you practice using it, the stronger it gets.
Don’t Compare Your Patch of Grass to Anyone Else’s
In my blogging/life coaching circle, one of the biggest issues that crops up a lot as a cause of unhappiness is comparisonitis.
Do you ever compare your life to another Mums? Do you compare your house, your car, your relationship status, your income, your body or anything else? Does it make you feel bad when you do? I know it does for me and this can be especially bad when you apply it to being a young Mum.
One of the best ways to combat comparison is to not use it against outside forces (or outside people) because they are out of your control but to focus it on yourself.
I’m serious. Compare you to you a year ago. Or 6 months ago. Or whatever timeframe is relevant. How much progress have you made? What positive changes have you brought into your life? Use it as motivation for a better life or to keep going with whatever progress you’ve made. Don’t look to anyone else for standards you can set yourself because we’re all running different races in this life.
And remember: the grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is green where you water it.
Don’t Assume People Are Mean/Judgmental/Critical Towards You Only Because You’re a Young Mum
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Sometimes people are just assholes.
There are really good people out there and you should seek them out and surround yourself with them as often as possible.
But sometimes you have to remember that someone being mean or nasty to you has nothing to do with you being a young Mum and everything to do with the fact that maybe they’re just an asshole.
And remember this too: when someone is making a judgment on you, it’s a reflection of them, not you.
Create Your Own Story (and rewrite the damn rules)
Do you have a story about being a young Mum? Have you heard the other ‘stories’?
Maybe it’s the one that says you’re doomed financially for the rest of your life. Maybe it’s you’ll never find your soul mate and will be a single Mum forever. Maybe it’s the one that says you’re not worthy of any good because you’ve joined a long list of doom and gloom statistics. Maybe it’s the one about never owning your own home with a white picket fence because you didn’t build up your career first.
The thing about stories is that you’re the author. If you don’t like the narrative or you think someone’s handed you a shitty script with a poor ending – rewrite your story! Set the tone, choose what characters you want around and make up your own damn rules about how your story goes.
You’ve broken the rules of what ‘most’ people do when it comes to when you should have kids (yet you’ve done something that most people will do at some point of their lives!)
You’re a rule breaker. You don’t need to fit any preconceived mould.
Write your story how you see fit and make it applicable to how you want to live your life on your terms.