As a young mother, I feel like I have to battle different stereotypes every single day. When I first found out I was pregnant, at 18, honestly the fears that you would think a young woman would have, wasn't the case for me. I wasn't worried how I would raise my child, I wasn't scared of trying to finish college, I didn't even second think of how my main responsibility for the rest of this child's life, would be my new sole purpose. The main thing that came to my mind was, what will people think?
When my daughter was born into this world, I was afraid of the looks she would get, the whispers we would hear, and the lack of respect I would get as a mother. I think a lot of young mothers think of these things as well, some more than others. Some not at all. I was afraid that I was going to be pre-judged. I was afraid that because of my age, I would be considered an un-fit mother, and that my daughter, would be considered a poor child, in a loveless home.
Last Sunday at church, I was moved. Not by the sermon, not by the music, (even though Oak Hills Church is fantastic), but by something that I saw. A young lady came in late, about halfway through the preaching part of the service. A baby in one arm, and 3 children following her, all under 5 or 6 years old. She couldn't have been much older than me, 19 at the youngest, 23 at the most. I saw her struggling a little bit, and the look on her face was of pure embarrassment when her children started laughing, crying, while shuffling to their seats. I caught the glances of some people, the glances I still get everyday. "Poor children" and "Poor Girl" and "The nerve of that girl" looks. I can honestly say that every eye was on her in our little section. Just as my heart was wanting to reach out for her, one of the greeter hosts quietly brings the family 4 children's programs, and crayons for all of them. She also brings the mother a program, gives her a hug, and whispers "I'll be right back here if you need anything at all, just give me a look". And with a big smile, she retreated back to her post. This wasn't an act for show, but by the look of her face, the sparkle in her eyes, she really wanted to reach out to her and make her more comfortable. And she did, and she waited in the back until the end of the service, just in case.
I work really hard to prove to the world that I am not a "poor young mother". Working from home and going to college have been my goals to prove that to people. I try my best to stay calm in public to smile at everyone, even when my daughter is screaming her head off for a new barbie. I admit I sometimes try and make myself look older, and can pass for a good 27 year old on a good day. I spend every second that I am not working or doing school work, with my daughter. She wants a break from me, more than anything else. You won't find this 21 year old at a bar or club, but reading a book to my daughter, and asleep by 10pm. But this act at church, this woman, reminded me that I don't have to prove myself to everyone. That there are people out there who are not going to judge me, that are going to be proud of me, that are proud of to this day, and that will always want to lend a helping hand, even if I don't ask for it.
The people that will whisper, stare, and make remarks...well, you can't change them, but why let that effect a perfectly beautiful life.