Eleven years ago, I had just turned 19, started university and found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t the easiest time, as I had to come to terms with being pregnant at a point in my life I hadn’t planned for. I left university after 3 months of starting and lived 3 hours away from Mr P, who stayed at university to finish his degree. The hardest part was feeling as though I was being judged and had ruined my life.
These were not feelings I imposed on myself. I have to say, that there were certain people who made me feel this way; at times unintentionally. Their words resonated though and for quite a while I felt ashamed. I felt that I had failed in some way and I think it was those feelings that sowed a seed which ended up growing into anxiety and depression many years later.
Coming out on the other side though, I now know I have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed and nobody has or had any right to judge me. Yes, I had a baby at a time in my life that many wouldn’t consider to be ideal by present social standards. Maybe going to university, getting a job, getting married and then having babies is seen as the correct thing to do. Everyone’s circumstances and decisions are different though, and really isn’t it more important that we do our best with what we are given and support everyone no matter what their situation is? I feel that is what I believe and have done. I had a baby at 19, I also went back to university a year later, got married to Mr P and came out with a First-Class Honours Degree. I then got a job, studied to be a teacher and earned a PGCE with Distinction. Is my life perfect? No! Would it be more perfect had I not had my eldest son? I doubt it because life is never perfect, and I have actually worked so much harder to be an amazing parent and do more with my life because of my son. The people who judged me for having my child so young, actually spurred me on so much more. I wasn’t going to be what they expected. I wasn’t going to sit back and not do something with my life because that’s what they stereotype young parents as doing.
At the end of the day, whether you are young or old, being a parent is hard. Age does not and cannot indicate what kind of parent you will be. That is down to who you are as a person and your experiences and expectations of life. Therefore, no one should judge anyone for being what they consider a young mum. Especially, if they don’t know you, your circumstances or desires.
I have been very fortunate and had a lot of support from family and friends, which has enabled Mr P and me to pursue and live the life that we do with our children. All I can say is do not pre-judge anybody for when they become pregnant. Yes, there will always be those that perpetuate a stereotype, but if you look hard enough you will see that actually there are probably far more young mums that are parenting and living successfully and happily than not. I know of so many other teenage and young parents who are the exact same as me and have done everything in their power to provide the best life possible for their children and themselves.
It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. If you know someone who is going through something similar to myself, please offer support and not judgement. I always believe that you should treat everyone with kindness and maybe if certain people had shown more to me during this time in my life, I would not have felt as if I had done something so terribly wrong. So, I finish by asking everyone, no matter what your views and opinions, to just spread support, love and kindness because, at the end of the day, we all need it.
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Thank you for your support.
Mrs P x x x