Mommy Shame & Explain Your Age

I was at the school yesterday to drop my son off for preschool, but we were a bit early, so I let him out of the car to play around the small gazebo a bit before the teacher came to let him in.  While we were waiting, one of his classmates and her mom and two very small siblings came over to join us.  The four kids played and the mom watched and warned them periodically about random potential dangers.  I couldn’t help but notice that she was at least forty and the children were indeed calling her Mommy.

“Wow, three kids! Are they all yours?” She smiled and nodded enthusiastically.  I understand the risk for complications go up with age, and this lady had three under five.
“Bet you’re a busy momma. Were your pregnancies tough though?”
“Well, umm, no,” she seemed a little stunned and confused.  “I had a great doctor, and everything was fine.”
“Oh, that’s good. It’s not hard dealing with all their energy?” She smiled and shrugged, but didn’t really answer.
“Well, at least you got to live your life first, right!”

Okay, okay. I know, that was pretty insensitive of me; politically INcorrect; a big social no-no. But don’t worry. I didn’t actually say those things, because, well, that would just be wrong and rude. Oh, and I was the mom with three kids. The older mom only had one. And she was the one to start the conversation. 

“You have three kids?” she asked. I smiled and nodded.
“Aww. But you’re so young,” she whined.
“It’s good though to have all that energy, I suppose.” I smiled and shrugged, but didn’t really answer.  Then she nodded toward my oldest.
“But did you get to finish school?”

Yep. That happened. And her eyes sort of bugged out a bit when I told her I didn’t get married or have kids until after I had graduated from college.
I understand that I look like a teenager, and I understand that there is a stigma in this country regarding young mothers. But seriously, do women really have to go out of their way to be offensive?  According to this site the average age of first time mothers has increased to 25 (2013) from 21 (1970).  So the people who accuse me of being too young to be a mom were most likely conceived, or gasp, conceived their children, when they were younger than me when I had sex for the first time. In the United States there is a sort of checklist that women are half expected to complete before starting a family:
*age…check. I was 25 when I conceived my first child.
*education…check.  I was done with high school on time and achieved a bachelor’s.
*marriage..check. Yup, I even did that!

But, really, why was this checklist created in the first place? I mean, is anyone really too young to be a mom? Is it really anyone’s business what milestones a woman has reached in any particular order?  Does shaming and embarrassing the young (or perceived young) mother ever help her?  Does it help the asker feel better about themselves?  And if it is considered taboo to make comments or ask such questions about an older mom, then why are so many people so bold and brazen enough to make these comments and questions about younger moms?  To me it is a form of harassment. It may be said with a smile, but there is nothing nice about it, and it is never delivered as a compliment.  It is a point blank judgment, and a harsh one at that because that “Aww, but you’re so young” doesn’t mean “You look great!”, but rather “You screwed up, didn’t you?” Whether I was 20, 30, or 40 years old when I birthed my children really doesn’t matter. My age, my choices, and even my foibles have absolutely nothing to do with you, so please don’t ask, please don’t comment, and please don’t make me feel like I need to explain or defend myself.

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