Motherhood is the great equalizer. No matter your age, nor any other identifying qualities, there are some moments that we all share when we jump ship from kid-free life and embark on our journey into parenthood. From the feelings of awe and absolute wonderment when we first set eyes on our babies, to the sheer exhaustion brought on by night after night of sleeplessness; From the pride that swells from deep within your soul as your baby takes her first steps into toddlerhood, to the panic you feel when she spikes her first fever. These moments are universal, which is arguably what makes moms — no matter how different they are in other ways — feel drawn to one another: the shared experiences we all know we have, and also the compulsion to squeeze every bit of knowledge out of each other. That said, there are also parts of parenthood that are specific to 20-something moms.
There are those who would argue that having a child in your 20s is a swift and efficient way to completely derail any academic or career-world promise. The demanding and time-consuming nature of child-rearing can certainly impact other areas of one’s life, such as class attendance and even job performance. However, in addition to the (admittedly sometimes plausible) cons to being a so-called “young mom” — it definitely is more challenging to find time to finish your degree when you have a little buddy to take care of — there are also various reasons that having a baby in your 20s can actually be quite advantageous.
You Start To Think About The Future (But, Like, Really Think About It)
Many young adults feel pressured to dive into a career right after college. The lack of time to give extensive consideration to one’s dreams, career goals, and aspirations, coupled with the relative immaturity of many young people fresh out of college, can lead to job dissatisfaction, high turnover rates, and a general apathy (and even melancholy, because that ish is bleak sometimes) toward the workforce. With the economic and job conditions this generation has faced (and moreover, has been constantly reminded that we are facing), it is not at all uncommon for today’s new graduates to be unable to find a job, or be forced to move back in with our parents, a situation that is as frequently occurring as it is frequently discussed.
Point being, it's understandable that a lot of 20-somethings just... opt out of seriously thinking about their futures at all. Because a lot feels stacked against them, and even more feels expected of them. How does a baby factor into this? Once you're staring down the barrel of raising another human life, you have to turn and face the future, and think about it, and plan for it, in a much more "OK fine, let's deal with this, and kick ass at it" kind of way that a lot of your peers aren't yet doing.
In this way, having a baby in your 20s — rather than robbing you of time to invest in your future — can effectively buy you time to carefully think through what you want out of life and implement realistic plans to achieve your goals.
You Have Even More Reason To Be Motivated About Your Career
In recent years, the 20-something crowd has garnered notoriety by becoming the poster children for job-hopping by day, and bar-hopping by night. The “work quasi hard, and play even harder” mentality is becoming more and more rampant (or so popular culture would have us think about ourselves). However, this flighty and flaky approach to the career world is not something that the 20-something mom has the luxury of indulging in. The sheer magnitude and imposing responsibility of having a baby is enough to propel even the most dedicated of slackers into action. Though it’s hard to believe, the maternal instinct is even more powerful than the call of nickel martini night. (Barely, but still.)
You're Possibly Not As Far In Your Career, So It Might Be Easier To Take A Break
OK, I'll just issue a really necessary disclaimer up front: Depending on where you're at in your education/career, the timing of your kid's arrival onto the scene might fall anywhere on the scale of "perfect" to "disruptive and disastrous." But in general, when you're in your 20s, you're still in the beginning stages of career development. And while you might feel like this is the best time to hustle your ass off (and you're not wrong), it's also the best time to take a break (or at least slow down) if you have to; you arguably aren't walking away from as much, because you haven't had time to build as much yet.
While it’s true that having built-in, paid maternity leave is a huge benefit for people who have access to it, being at an earlier stage in your career where you possibly aren’t bound by those parameters can have upsides of its own. Having a baby in your 20s, especially if you are not yet well-established in your career field, means that you will likely be unburdened by the strict stipulations of a company maternity leave policy, allowing some of us to stay home with our new babies longer, if we so desire, while simultaneously saving on the added cost of child care.
Furthermore, think about what it's going to be like when you're kid is, say, 10 years old and is infinitely more self-sufficient than a baby or toddler: You'll be in your 30s, have way more time and energy to devote to your career, and have a cool kid to share the fruits of that hard work with. Meanwhile, a lot of your friends are going to be back at the baby starting line, and facing taking a break from possibly way more developed careers. Having a baby before your career really takes off affords you the opportunity to focus more completely on your career later on down the road, rather than interrupting it with one or more maternity leaves. In so many professions, taking leave when you’re in a more senior position can create a bigger setback than doing it when you’re younger and have arguably less responsibility to walk away from.
You Have Way More Flexibility When It Comes To When And If To Have More Kids
The reality of the female reproductive system, despite the admittedly impressive and awesome technological advances that have allowed us greater flexibility with these natural limitations, is that there is a finite amount of time to procreate. It is a known fact that there is a dramatic decline in fertility after age 35 (although, in fairness, the advent of reproductive technology such as egg/embryo freezing has extended the time frame a bit). Having a baby in your 20s affords you certain luxuries that you might not otherwise have down the road, like the ability to space your children out further. Or not! You generally have more flexibility when it comes to how short or long a time you wait to have more kids (if you want more kids) because you simply have more time, in theory. Furthermore, if you have dreams of a larger family, having a baby as a “younger” mom is particularly advantageous. The choice is yours! What a time to be alive!
Images: Bustle; Giphy(4)