As I’ve mentioned before here, I was a young mom the first time around. As in, much younger than the typical mom. I had my first child at age 19, while still in college. And while my situation didn’t match many of the ridiculous teen-mom stereotypes (I was with my ex-husband for eight years in total, I finished school, etc.) I still dealt with my fair share of judgement, simply for starting a family before some of my peers. And it sucked.
Below are some of the more common assumptions people would make, though this is hardly a comprehensive list. I’m sure the comments section will be littered with other young mom BS assumptions. Because sanctimommies are everywhere and they all suck in their own, unique way.
5. “You must be a college/high school dropout.”
After the economic crisis happened and my husband lost his job, I hit the pavement hard looking for work. An acquaintance of my husband’s family, who I know was just trying to be helpful, suggested that we move to Don’s hometown in New Jersey (NOPE) so I could get a job at a Wawa (DOUBLE NOPE), because “it must be hard for someone like you to find real work.” Someone “like me” being a young mom. This wasn’t months, or years into a job search either. This was week one (and the next week I found a job in my field). I was gobsmacked. I get it. According to the ACLU, 70% of teen moms drop out of school (those stats are for high school but you get the idea), but there is a reason for this that goes beyond having a baby, including poverty, racial and economic discrimination and most importantly, lack of adult support. And dammit, I worked hard for my degree.
4. “Who’s the father, do you even know?”
Oddly enough, this is an assumption I still hear on occasion, even with three kids and 7 years with my husband, Don. It’s like the idea of a blended family is just too difficult of a concept to wrap their heads around. I often get questions about whether or not I “know who the father is” about not only my oldest, but also my middle child. Even when I’m standing next to my husband, who she is the spitting image of. I guess they assume “once a slut, always a slut!”
3. “You threw your life away, you moron!”
Puh-leez. Did having my daughter at 19 make my life a little harder at the time? Of course? Did it ruin my life? No, because I didn’t allow it to. Having my daughter was a choice that I made, and I have never regretted it. I have a great family, a job that I love, and plenty of friends and hobbies. My life is wonderful.
2. “You must be religious.”
I was shocked at how many people began to assume I was anti-choice when I chose to have a child at 19. It’s as if the only reason you would have a baby at that age is being knocked up and not believing in abortion. As I’ve mentioned many, many times here, I am adamantly pro-choice and not religious. My decision to have a child was between my partner at the time and myself, and is NOT an opportunity to speculate on my beliefs.
1. “You must be on welfare/food stamps etc…what a shame”
Don’t misunderstand me here. I see nothing wrong with utilizing social services to give yourself a hand up during hard times. They are a vital and necessary social safety net for millions of hard working people. But the assumption that I must be living “off the dole” as my granddad would say, was infuriating. I was lucky enough not to need social services, but the assumption was always there. One time, at the grocery store, I ran into a friend of my grandmother, who looked into my cart and said “Oh, I didn’t realize you could buy toilet paper with food stamps, so you get financial assistance?” WUT? First of all, are poor not people not allowed to wipe their asses? Second, this was just last year, why would anyone assume ANYONE was on social services without, I don’t know, ASKING them? Or better yet, why don’t people just mind their own business?