I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. An Aquarius through and through, I fully embrace my quirkiness and distaste for the norm. As such, I’ve always known that I was different. (After all, I wasn’t voted “weirdest” in my grammar school class for nothin’.) But looking back, my life choices seem to fit. Especially when it comes to parenthood.
While most of my friends are just now settling down and raising young kids, two of my children are in their teens and my oldest is in her 20’s. Still, I’m not an over-the-hill mom; on the contrary, I feel about 25 on the inside. I just had my kids young. Incredibly young.
My husband and I began dating when I was 16, and by the time I was 24, we already had two children. My last baby was born when I was 29. Of course, it wasn’t always easy and we faced many obstacles — one of them being shady people who said we were “crazy” and even feigned concern over our ability to raise decent kids when we were barely adults ourselves. Yet despite it all, I have to say that I am so incredibly glad that we did it that way. While it may not be for everyone, for me, having kids young was the right path.
Here’s just a few reasons why.
1. I had stamina. (Emphasis on had.)
With my second kid, I moved into a new house 4 days before I delivered. Up until the moment my water broke, I was packing and unpacking, decorating, and cleaning. I was a non-stop machine. With my third, I finished up a paper for college while in labor, and graduated a few weeks later. I had an incredible drive to finish my goal of a college degree and I was going to do what it took to make it happen. My drive was intense, and so was my optimism.
2. Google wasn’t around to scare the crap out of me.
I knew way less scary medical stuff back then! While I have always been a worrier to a certain extent, I was not the gold star worrywart that I am now. And I was much better for it mentally. I worried about “normal” things in those days — like the pain of labor, for instance — but not the five thousand ways we can all die at any given moment. I wish I could go back and unread most of the (often unfounded) information I have consumed via Facebook groups and message boards in the last few years, but alas, it’s not happening.
3. I had patience. Hours upon hours of it.
I had my kids before smartphones and social media ruled our existence. As a result, I spent many cold, rainy days, waiting out the weather, an ear infection, or a teething episode while watching mind-numbing kids’ shows. And Calliou — one of the most irritating kids’ shows known to humankind — well, I even could stand that without batting an eye. My tolerance reigned supreme.
4. My kids and I are now into the same music.
Since there isn’t a huge generational difference between us, I like so much of the same music as my kids, which saves me from feeling like an old, out-of-touch mom most of the time. They grew up listening to everything from System of a Down to Dave Matthews, and thank the lord, they have never been part of the Justin Bieber or Kidz Bop crew! In return, they’ve introduced me to so many bands that I have grown to love, like The Vaccines, Alt-J, Vampire Weekend, and I have enjoyed, not endured countless concerts with them.
5. I’m still tech-savvy enough to keep up with them.
Luckily, I don’t need to be filled in on all the latest tech crazes by my kids, like most parents of teens and twenty-somethings I know. I use much of it daily for work and recreation. I don’t need to read dated articles about “what the kids are up to these days” — yes, I have my own Instagram, and yes, I know Snapchat is.
6. I talk to my kids like peers.
When it comes to my kids, I tell it like it is, straight out. I’m not so far removed from being a young person myself that I don’t understand how their lives work. I vividly remember just how frustratingly difficult and sad the teen years can be — and I relate to them about that instead of giving examples from yesteryear about how I had to grow up. (Well, except the times I’ve gotten on my soapbox about how I think my latch-key kid status taught me to be self-sufficient — whoops!) I want to hear my kids’ problems and help them through it, not preach.
7. I have way more freedom now than friends my age do.
Each of my kids are old enough to handle things themselves now, whether I’m home or not. I can barely remember the days when I couldn’t shower, sleep at night, watch my favorite show, or even read a book whenever I wanted. At the time, I thought those long, busy days would never end, but here I am with a newfound freedom that honestly excites me. The possibilities are endless!
8. I already have the satisfaction of knowing that my kids turned out just fine.
Sorry to disappoint the naysayers, but our kids — raised by us wide-eyed youngins’ — turned out absolutely great. They’ve all been in honors programs, received awards, scholarships, and all that exterior stuff that my judgey Facebook friends deem worthy as success. But even more than that, I’m proud to be able to say this: My kids are kind, compassionate people who are a pure asset to this world. Their caring ways make me incredibly proud. Some of those very same doubters cannot say the same.
Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t make (many, many) mistakes. I did. But I learned along the way with my kids. I grew along with them, laughed along with them, and learned along with them. I grew into the person I was meant to be because of them, and it has been a glorious, beautiful journey … with many more destinations still to come.