Don’t tell me I’m too young to be a good mother

With a pink blanket under her head and her seatbelt nicely fastened I walked through our local supermarket collecting our groceries for the week with my daughter in the baby seat of my trolley. This particular week I decided to start purchasing foods for my daughter to try, now I’m not really about those premade baby foods (but if you are then you do you! nothing against it, just a personal choice) so I was putting things in my trolley like organic sweet potato, pumpkin and avocado. Unbeknownst to me the truth of societies still prehistoric views on parenthood was about to rear it’s ugly head.

As I turned the corner I very nearly bumped into a woman’s trolley which she had left in the middle of the refrigerated isle. I veered pretty sharply in order to miss the trolley,  which of course startled my daughter, no more then running into the other trolley would have anyway. She cried, like babies do, so I stopped momentarily to talk to her and comfort her out of her fright. Whilst I paused I unknowingly had blocked the woman from her stranded trolley, so she approached me with a louder than necessary “Excuse me!”. I pardoned myself and moved my trolley aside, my daughter still crying and myself completely in my own mum world deliberating whether to pick her up to stop her crying or to try and distract her with the dummy she had lost interest in five minutes ago. So it took me by surprise when the woman turned to me for a second time as said “she’s not yours is she?”

Now I’ve had my fair share of questions in public, mostly regarding my daughter being my sister and my own mother looking too young to be a grandmother which are all usually met with a bit of a laugh and then me explaining that she’s actually mine. This time I felt a sting of judgement coming through. I smiled at my daughter and looked at the lady and said “she sure is! isn’t she beautiful, she’s four months old”. She peered at me down her pointed nose and said “Well I don’t think children should be having children, but she is quite cute. Bit of a shame” A SHAME. If you know me you would know I hate confrontation, unless I know you well enough to pull you up on something I generally let it slide for the sake of saving an argument. This is my family though and I’ll be damned if I let someone tell me that it was a shame that my beautiful daughter existed as my daughter.

“Thanks for your opinion, although I didn’t ask for it. Not sure how many children you know but not many of them are in 5 year relationships with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. Guess I’m just lucky hey? Have a nice day” my heart was pounding and I was out of there as quick as I could go, neglecting to pick up the butter I was in the refrigeration isle for! I pushed the conversation to the depths of my brain hoping never to think about it again but after seeing a few fellow “young parents” attacked on social media recently for their age and their apparent inability to care and love their own children I figured now would be a good time to think about it, and god forbid, talk about it because it is 100% not okay.

All parents, regardless of their age, love their children, they want the best for their children and they will do anything they can to help them grow into wonderful, compassionate and loving adults. Regardless of the house they live in, the clothes they wear, whether they are married, how much they spent on their car, if they’re homosexual OR if they’re still what you would consider teenagers. If they were mature enough to make the decision to bring a child into the world then they should be admired for doing so, and for doing the best they can for that child.

The love you have for your child can’t be measured by how many toys you’re able to buy them, whether you could afford to send them to an expensive school or buy them all of the latest gadgets. Love is measured by the smiles, the hugs, the kisses and most importantly the empowering conversations you can have with them about becoming the greatest person they can possibly be. To care for the people around them, to love unconditionally and be accepting of everyone regardless of their differences.

I might not be 25 with a mountain of savings in the bank reserved specifically for having in children, my partner and I might not be married but we sure love each other like we are and we’ll give our daughter every ounce of love we have to give before we will ever let her feel unwanted or unloved. Young parents, don’t let anyone ever discourage you, your baby thinks you’re the greatest mummies and daddies in the world, and without you, they wouldn’t exist. You’re doing an amazing job, and if anyone thinks any less then maybe they should take a look at what’s missing in their lives before they make any negative comments about how beautifully full of love your life is.

 

xx Emily

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Parenthood and Mental Health: Becoming the best version of you, for them

The following contains discussion about mental health, if the topic may lead you to feeling upset or ‘triggered’ please refrain from reading. Remember that there is always support around you, never be afraid to reach out

mum & yawn

Something about my personal life I’ve never really delved into is mental health. Mostly because of the stigma around it all, and also because for some people, it’s a difficult topic to stomach. But here I am opening up, because if you know anything about me, I think outdated stigmas stink.

I have dealt with different difficulties to do with mental health for a long time. I’m not worse off than anyone else, I don’t glorify it, but I certainly believe that everyone, to some extent, deals with some kind of mental barrier, large or small. For me, for a long time it has been anxiety. It has affected my schoolwork, my performance as a young elite squash player, my relationships, my career choices and the paths I have to take to reach my goals. It’s not sad, I’m not asking for sympathy, it’s just an aspect of my life that I have learnt to live with and even at times, embrace. I certainly feel like it is something that needs to be talked about more though, especially when it comes to parenthood.

Becoming a parent is a mammoth journey of emotion, personal growth and empowerment, it’s a given that you will be tested to your brink, beyond and back again. Here you are, two (or maybe even just one) individual people, suddenly given an entire new life that is now fully your responsibility, a tiny little person who relies solely on you and you only to survive. If thats not enough to scare the pants off you then clearly you should be having 20. It’s a huge task, and incredibly daunting and it is 100% okay to feel completely and utterly petrified.

I’m not a professional and I can’t give any professional advice but I can share my own experience in hopes to provide some kind of reassurance that no one is truly alone. For me talking about my emotions has been an incredible influence on my mental health. Finding someone I trusted in the early stages of pregnancy to express my concerns about my choices and the impact that those choices would have on my life was so important. And having or finding a support network to support your choices positively is worth every single person involved’s weight in gold.

“finding a support network to support your choices positively is worth every single person involved’s weight in gold”

After pregnancy into the first few weeks can be full of extremely complex emotions, for both mum and dad. And baby blues, as well as full on postnatal depression is something that I truly believe can happen to both women and men.

I can’t begin to stress how important it is to realise, for everyone to realise, that struggling mentally is something that deserves your attention, much the same way a broken wrist or leg would. And tending to your mental health isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of, when you have a little person relying on you it’s something you should prioritise. If your baby had a serious cold or needed medical attention you wouldn’t put it off, and much the same as your physical health impacts them, your mental health does too. If something doesn’t feel right, seek help, you and your baby deserve to know the best version of you ever to exist.

There are various places to reach out to including;

beyondblue.org.au 

mindsuatralia.org.au

cope.org.au

wayahead.org.au

as well as various mental health hotlines that you can call no matter the time of day

BeyondBlue – 1300 22 4636

LifeLine – 13 11 14

PANDA  (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) – 1300 726 306

And my email, facebook inbox, and blog are always open to anyone who feels as though they can find someone to open up to in me. Even if you aren’t a parent, everyone deserves to be the best version of themselves, you aren’t hindering anyone by expressing your feelings, and there will always be someone who cares.