It's difficult to feel as though moms can "win" in our culture. I don't know a single mom who hasn't faced criticism about something. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how you're supposed to do things, and they often feel the need to tell you when "you're doing it wrong." They make a ton of assumptions about you, your life, and your ability to parent, usually based on how you look. I learned (the hard way) that there are so many unbelievably rude and presumptuous things people feel fine saying to moms who look young, too. I guess not everyone got the whole "don't judge a book by its cover" memo. Wonderful.
I have always looked younger than I actually am, and most of the time I think that's pretty damn awesome. For me, at least, getting carded when I'm at a movie theater feels like a treat, especially when you're in your 30s. So does working at a University and being mistaken for a student. But, when someone assumes you're the nanny? Yeah, not so much. People have outright asked me if my pregnancies were planned, and when I was single mom the automatic go-to assumption seemed to be that I had wound up pregnant on accident and that's why their dad wasn't in the picture.
I had no idea what to say when people voiced their assumptions about my age and how it supposedly changes the way I parent. I mean, even if a random individual's speculation was true, how I parent and how my age may or may not impact my parenting is so personal. Besides, my family planning decisions are nobody's damn business. Young moms face a different set of obstacles in our culture, and especially when compared to those who look like they've waited to have babies at what has arbitrarily been deemed a "respectable age." I have heard so many comments as a mom who looks young (and I'm not even that young you guys), including the following:
"Are You The Nanny?"
I've been called the nanny, babysitter, older sister, and it's really insulting, especially from other moms on the playground, or worse, from a guy trying to pick me up. I mean, could you just not?
"You Must Be His Second Wife"
I actually am my husband's second wife, but the funny part is that I am actually older than his ex. Please don't make assumptions about our family, our relationship, or me, based on how young I look.
"Don't You Know How That Works?"
I can guarantee with almost 100 percent certainty that most moms, even young moms, know how babies happen. But if for some bizarre reason a young mom is not aware of how babies are made, they most certainly don't you attempting to educate them in some condescending, half-assed way.
Oh, you were just joking? You think it's super funny to joke about a person's children or reproductive choices or the kind of sex they're having? Explain to me how it's funny, because it's really not.
"What A Waste"
Basing someone's value on how old or young they are (or look) when they decided to become a mother, or what they accomplished prior to parenthood, is downright horrible. Having kids doesn't mean someone has wasted their life, it just means their life has changed.
"You'll Never Get Your Body Back"
Why, oh why, are people so obsessed with women's bodies in our culture? My body is mine. It doesn't matter how old I was when I had my first or last baby, it's still my body, I don't need to get my body back, and I don't want to hear your opinion on the subject.
"So Your Baby Was An Accident, Then?"
For the record, all of my pregnancies were planned, but you know what? Even if they weren't planned initially, any pregnancy I carry to term is a pregnancy I planned. For now, at least, we have reproductive rights in this country. So if I became a mother, it's because I made the decision to become a mother. You can't possibly know anything about someone's family planning decisions, especially if you're basing your assumptions on how they look.
"Aren't You Glad You'll Still Be Young When Your Kids Grow Up?"
What kind of question is this? I mean, do people really have to shame older moms and their reproductive choices in an attempt to compliment me and younger moms like me? Nope. Not cool. Besides, why is being young a value? I look forward to being a cool mom to my adult kids, no matter how old I am.
"How Is That Possible?"
So, when I tell people that I have five kids, ranging from baby to tween, they usually do some mental math and eventually ask me how it's possible. Rather than explaining how sex, procreation, and blended families work, I usually just stare back at them until they grow too uncomfortable to stick around. I don't know if they think they're paying me a compliment or trying to be funny, but it's really rude.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.