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The age at which it’s deemed appropriate to have children is always changing. As a little girl, I envisioned myself being married and having children by the age of 25. Back in our grandparent’s years, if you waited until 25 to have children you were late to the game.
At some point in the course of my life, the societal norm for having children got pushed back to your early 30’s. It makes sense — more and more women are establishing themselves in a career and pushing off a husband/kids until their goals are met. Which is awesome! I was one of those women who thought I’d delay having children, until life laughed in my face and handed me a sweet baby boy.
I had my first child at 25 years old, like I’d imagined when I was little. What I didn’t imagine is how I’d be made to feel that I was having kids “so young”, and that somehow I was doing it all wrong.
1. All that traveling you thought you’d do … you don’t.
If by traveling you mean driving to Dunkin’ Donuts at 7:00 a.m. when you realize you’re out of coffee, then yes … you may do some traveling. But in all reality, you don’t have the time, patience or money to travel as a mom in your 20’s. Even a day trip to the mall is a production. I might not get to take that lavish European backpacking trip I’d imagined right now, but I’ll gladly trade it in for a family trip to Disney World making memories together.
2. Your friends don’t have children yet.
If you’re like me, your girlfriends are still in the “work all day, wine all night” phase of their lives (ok, maybe I still “wine” a lot of nights). Getting pregnant instantly ostracized me from my social circle, which I didn’t realize at the time revolved so closely around drinking. Luckily, I do have some amazing friends who still make the effort to hang out with and support me, but it definitely isn’t like “the good ole’ days”.
3. You’re just getting established in your career.
In your early 20’s, you’ve just graduated college and are (hopefully) starting a job within your career choice. By your mid-20’s, you’re still the “baby” of the office, but biting/clawing your way up the ladder. If at this stage you pause your career for children, you’ll almost certainly become a topic of water cooler conversation.
“She’s just a baby herself,” is one line I heard about me. There’s also that lovely assumption that you must not value your career if you also want a family. I wish I could smack these people in the face.
4. Your youthful body disappears.
I gained between 55-60lbs in my pregnancy. I truly believe I was just dealt a bad genetic deck and not all women gain weight this way, but losing it has been a battle. I’m 13-months postpartum and I’m FINALLY back at my pre-pregnancy weight, but I definitely have my battle scars (stretch marks) to show for it. Luckily, I have an amazing man who finds me attractive regardless. But that doesn’t mean some days I don’t feel like an oompa-loompa occupying the shell of a former hot young 25-year old.
5. You’re not financially ready.
If you’re in your 20’s and have your finances together, then you have my undying respect. I certainly did not. I was in a “treat yourself to this Kate Spade handbag” mentality before I got pregnant, and my bank account reflected that. Now I daydream about the Kate Spade diaper bag, but realize it’s not practical or affordable and buy the Target brand.
6. Your entire relationship with your partner changes.
Odds are, you have only known your partner for a few years, if that (I only knew mine for three months, whoops). It feels like a long enough time to get to know someone, but it’s not. Suddenly, every fiber on which your relationship has been built will be tested for its strength and durability. We’re so used to it being all about us, about what makes us happy as a couple, that we get smacked HARD in the face by the reality of “no one cares about you anymore”. It’s ALL about that precious baby in your arms. You’re forever changed by circumstance, but bonded by an undying love for a tiny human. Somehow that has to be all that matters now.
7. You feel old.
Tonight, my friends are gearing up for a weekend of bar hoping, concert going and traveling to whatever new city they feel like.
Tonight, my thoughts are occupied by the Babies-R-Us credit card bill I just got in the mail, if what I’m making for dinner is organic and nutritious and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song on repeat in my brain. I also need to be in bed before 10:00 p.m. so when my baby wakes up at 6:00 a.m. I have some life left in me to tackle the day. The only “day drinking” I consider is cups of coffee, because alcohol will have me on my ass asleep before noon.
8. Just when you find yourself, you lose yourself.
Your 20’s are a time when you come into your own. You’re truly discovering who you are outside of the bubble of living at home or being in college. But just when you’ve matured and start owning adulthood, your sense of self gets lost in having a child. Your wants — your needs — are all secondary to the life that depends on you in your arms. You don’t have time for make-up and cute clothes, to have your coffee in peace or to watch the shows you want to watch. Odds are, you’ll be watching Disney Junior, microwaving your cold coffee again, wearing sweatpants with unwashed hair for the foreseeable future. But it’s oh so worth it.