There are more than a few reasons I am happy I waited until my mid-30’s to have a baby (and a few reasons I am not, but that’s for another post), and when I did give birth at 37 and decided to hit some of the mom-and-baby library groups, it became abundantly clear what exactly had made waiting right for me.
Being a people watcher and an armchair psychologist, I had a good look around. The moms were all younger than me; I wasn’t the oldest, thankfully, due to the grandmother unsuccessfully wrangling her grandchildren to the circle and the elderly librarian trying to grab their attention.
You could see the fear in the eyes of the younger moms as they secretively checked each other out, and one mom even subtly changed how she was holding her baby to match the more confidant-looking mom across from us. The confidant mom sat with her nose in the air, looking at no one. I kept watching her to see if she would let her guard down and let anyone in, but no; I assumed she had been burned before.
I look at the friends I had at 25, and a select few of them are still around. I found my tight circle of girlfriends late in life, and I am so glad to have them now. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated that kind of honest and open comradery when I was young; I was too full of insecurity.
Somewhere along the way, I decided I was going to be comfortable in my skin and do things my way; after all, it is *my* life. I wear a bathing suit without apology and with aplomb, and I wear little to no make-up; all my life and body choices are with my own comfort in mind, not anyone elses.
Nothing prepared me for the insecurity of motherhood though, and that hits you in the face like a frying pan. It is wearing your heart on your sleeve and inviting everyone who ever hated you into a room and offering them your arm; you feel vulnerable all the time.
If I had a baby at 25, I would not have survived it. At 37, I had enough life experience to handle that vulnerability better than I would have at 25. I am kinder and gentler to myself, to my little one, and to my husband who sometimes leaves more of a mess than our daughter, and I know myself better than I ever did.
Young moms are struggling in the age of social media perfection, and I don’t know how they do it. I see them being so judgmental and ugly to each other on Facebook, at the park, in the grocery store. I see the up-and-down eyebrows on the mom with the UppaBaby stroller as she passes the mom with the beat-up hand-me-down Graco. I see them avert their eyes when we’re all perusing the used-clothing stores, as though buying used clothing for a child who will fit into it for eight seconds is something to be ashamed of.
Younger moms need to support each other better. I do believe it’s easier for me, because I don’t rely on the approval of others as much as I did when I was young. It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t like that I bottle-fed, or didn’t have the latest baby-wrapping system.
The pressure is on you, young moms, and I see it. So many messages coming at you, and coupled with the pressure you put on yourself to have it all/do it all/be it all is intense and sometimes crippling.
Can’t you all see that in each other, and stop the madness? Support each other. Lift each other up. Cry on shoulders, and offer yours. Don’t apologize for your messy house, and don’t judge others for theirs. We’re all in this together, with all of our perfectly imperfect ways and lives.
Put down your weapons, and just be there. For yourselves and for the moms around you.