At least this seems to be the view of the wider community – the older generation in particular.
A midwife in the hospital where I had my first child in refused to help me learn to breast feed as it was a “natural instinct REAL mothers should have, teenagers shouldn’t bother”.
Filthy looks, and shaking heads were thrown my way when ever my 17yr old self dared to venture out of the house to the local shopping centre with baby Buzz. I used to wonder if perhaps I was imagining it, but then when 14 months later Gucci got thrown into the mix those looks turned into very real, very nasty comments from total strangers.
I remember the feeling of my face turning beet red and wishing the ground would swallow me up, as an elderly lady passing on the escalator nodded toward me and proclaimed for all to hear that “poor little things, teenage riff raff should not be allowed to bring children into this world.”
She didn’t know me, she had no idea of my circumstances – for all she knew they may not have even been my children. God that comment hurt, and unfortunately it was only one of many. Eventually it got to the point where I actually avoided going out because I felt so embarrassed.
Then one day not long after I turned 21, a strange thing happened. My mother in law was looking after the older boys, as I was taking newborn baby Felix to a doctors’ appointment when an old lady stopped me on the street.
Thinking I was about to cop another lecture about ‘today’s youth’ I was pleasantly surprised if not a little shocked when she said, ‘I just had to stop you to say what a beautiful baby you have!’ She gave me a huge smile and told me to enjoy him while he was still so little. Not wanting to ruin the moment by mentioning he wasn’t my first, I thanked her and continued on.
Later that same day I noticed that other old women were not muttering at me or shaking their heads, but instead stopping and cooing at Felix, smiling to their husbands and generally being very friendly and receptive.
Several days later, I ventured out with the 3 boys and was sad to see that the looks had reverted back to ones of dismay by the general public, and over the next few years when all the children were with me, I was frequently asked “how many fathers?” by people I had only just met.
It seemed that 21 was the ‘OK’ age to have your first child but any time before that and you were just a teenage slut.
I used to try and explain to the accusing types that I was married and the children all had the one father, and despite my total lack of religious persuasion I even pulled out the “I will have as many children as God blesses me with” card a few times in a desperate attempt to seek approval from the world.
Now at the ripe old age of 27, I am learning that when people comment “Wow, you look too young to have 4 kids!” they are not in fact owed an explanation, my choices were and are my own and my children and I are very happy with the way things are thank you. very. much.
So rather than launcning into my life story, now I simply smile back at them and say “oh, you’re so sweet!” and let them wonder if perhaps I am actually older than I look.
Were/are you a teenage mum?
How did you deal with the comments?Have you been guilty of making comments yourself?
Do you worry too much about what people think?