Note: I'll be featuring Q+As and guest blog posts from other moms who started early, in the hopes of making young motherhoood feel less isolating and more encouraging. In the hopes of including more voices, perspectives and stories. If you'd like to participate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. First up is Monica:
1. How old were you when you became a first-time mom-to-be? I got pregnant at 22, but sadly had a miscarriage. I secretly feel like that is when I became a mother. I got pregnant again shortly after, still 22, and had my daughter Ruth at 23.
2. How old are your children now? Ruth is now 2.5 years and Marie is 8 months
3. Did you plan to start having children early or was this a surprise? My husband and I knew we wanted to start a family right away, and call us old fashioned, but we waited until marriage to even have a chance to get pregnant. So, yes, all planned.
4. In your opinion, what’s the biggest advantage to having children early? Well let's just say I don't know anything except getting little sleep. I went from college student on little sleep, to first-year teacher and grad student getting little sleep, to new mom. I was used to running on little fuel.
5. What’s been your biggest challenge? It took me awhile to learn the difference between listening to advice and taking it. I have lots of support, and in the beginning I wanted everyone to know I appreciated their advice so I tried to follow it all. I realized I was not going to let me kids cry it out, and that I wanted to carry them in a sling all day even if it does "spoil" them, and the biggest uproar: Yes my children sleep with me, yes I like it, and yes there are safe ways to do it. Now I know I have to trust what I think is right for my kids.
6. When it comes to finding other mom friends, what’s your best advice? Focus on finding someone who has the same values and priorities as you. Do not stress out about age. I do not like other mom's judging me because I am a young mom, so do not judge the older moms. As a stay-at-home mom I just met people the places I was taking my kids (the park, YMCA, bible study).
7. How have your priorities, your interests, changed after becoming a mom? Oh my. My priorities I like to think have always been family, my husband. Now it is just more people. But I think I do put my kids first. Sorry hun. I do think that being a mom has strengthened my faith as well. My interests before kids were spending all day reading a good book, taking long hot baths, and... well I can't even remeber really what I was into. Now I enjoy sewing and crafting when I get the chance.
8. One thing you wish someone had told you before having kids? Do not worry about spoiling them. Enjoy it while you can because soon they will be 2 years old and will jump out of your lap as soon as they get in it.
9. One thing you’d like to tell another young mom just starting out? Read all the books, go ahead, it will make you feel a bit ready. But when that baby comes you'll rely on your own knowledge of your baby since you will know best what her cries mean and what her grins mean.
10. What do you want people to know about you, beyond your age? My name is Monica. Yes I went to college, have my masters even. And my husband and I made a choice that I would stay at home to raise our children. It takes some sacrifices at times, but they are our children. We love them and I want to raise them and teach them. Yes we are young, but that doesn't mean we do not know how to love them.
You can find more of Monica and her beautiful family at Attached to You, where she writes about crafts, sewing and life as a young mom.
This is very different from my experience, seeing that Monica planned to get married and start a family early while I was on the fast track to a very different lifestyle. But I love how Monica brought up the fact that she went from being an exhausted college student to an exhausted first-year teacher to an exhausted mom. I remember talking to a Dad who had his first baby around 38, and he said that the hardest part of becoming a parent was adjusting to the new lifestyle. No sleeping in, no leisurely brunches, no last-minute road trips and lavish vacations. I thought, Well if I never knew it, I can't miss it. I imagine it would be hard to adjust to the drastic changes once you've been set in your ways for two decades.