House & HomeMom's LifeThe KitchenWork and Passions

Young Moms: Something To Prove?

by Guest Blogger on January 18, 2013

This is a guest post by Chaunie Brusie of Tiny Blue Lines.

young mom with kids, halloween, costumes

A few months ago, at the age of 26, I was heavily pregnant with my third child. Pushing my brood in the grocery store, diapers and cereal spilling out of my cart, I felt disapproving eyes turning on me down every aisle I clumsily navigated.

No! I wanted to shout. It’s not like that! I have an education! I’m a homeowner! I’m accomplishing things with my life, I swear!

There are days when I sit and count what I have accomplished with my life so far.

Ok, I’ve studied abroad in France. Traveling, check.

Grad school? Check. Well, half a check.

Got a book deal? Spoken at Capitol Hill? Check and check.

I do these things not because I am some kind of crazed egotist, hoarding accomplishments like shiny statues for my shelves, but for a much more embarrassing reason.

I feel like I need them to prove I’m a good mom.

When I stumbled upon a pair of two tiny blue lines one early morning during my senior year of college, my biggest fear was not if I would finish school or if I would be able to find health insurance.

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be good enough. How could I? At 21, I hadn’t exactly done all of the things that you are supposed to do before you become a mom. The job prospects were a bit non-existent, the ring was missing, and that whole place-to-live thing? Not quite there.

It seems like the trend today is that parenting is something people choose, rather than something that just happens. There is preparation and college funds and careers launched before a baby.

So for someone like me, the ultimate list-maker and checker-offer (I’m sure you know the type), an unplanned pregnancy equaled complete and utter disaster. And the worst part was—no one would understand.

I worried that no one would understand that I really wasn’t an irresponsible person. I wasn’t someone who was supposed to get knocked up before she was married. Really. I was a good girl. I had plans, people! Big plans.

Except now, looking down at the plastic stick, I didn’t really know what would happen to them.

There is a strange transformation that happens to a woman when she becomes a mother. Suddenly, talking to her at a dinner party or gathering becomes tricky. Do you ask her if she works, risking the insinuation that stay-at-home moms don’t work? Do you ask her what’s new, knowing her days consist primarily of changing diapers all day? Or do you take the most preferred route and skip right over her to ask her husband how work is going?

As a young mom, there is the added difficulty of the fact that I didn’t really accomplish anything before I had kids. There was no adult “pre-Mom” version of myself. I became a mom while I was still taking my laundry home to my own mother every weekend, so the lines got a little blurry. What dinner party conversation could I provide? “Hey everyone, who wants to hear the story of how I almost gave birth in class?” I feel like I got a little lost in the shuffle from college kid to parent.

So, I set about proving myself.

I delivered my daughter one week after I graduated college, started my first job as a nurse five weeks later, went back to school to pursue my Masters degree, worked two jobs while my husband finished his degree, bought a house, and set about starting a new career as a writer.

With every “How old are you anyways?” question I got and every “Babies having babies” comment I heard muttered, I worked harder.

I found myself collecting my accomplishments like Girl Scout badges. Except, instead of some delicious Thin Mints stashed in my freezer, all I ended up with was feeling…empty.

It’s taken me some time—three kids, four years, and countless stretch marks worth of time, but I am finally beginning to realize that I have nothing to prove. I’ve been running in a self-defeating circle.

I realized that I was seeking validation for my mothering skills. As if I could compensate for the early start into motherhood and late start into adulthood I had embarked upon.

But the truth is, my degree doesn’t matter when I am playing dress-up with my daughters. 

My time in France doesn’t affect the raspberries I blow on my son’s tummy.  

My kids don’t care that I am still young enough to remember the thrill of trick-or-treating.

It didn’t take a responsible age or the right career or the perfect degree to make me a good mom.

All it took was finally believing it myself.

* * * * *

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, labor and delivery nurse, and young mom of three. She began serving as an advocate for young women facing unplanned pregnancies after becoming a mother during her senior year of college. A fellow Michigander, Chaunie is excited to say that after taking Meagan’s writing classes, she has been published on sites like The Bump, Babble, and Parents and will see her first book released in May 2014. Chaunie blogs at www.tinybluelines.com

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Chaunie@TinyBlueLines January 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

Thank you so much for featuring my story today! The Happiest Mom honestly has changed my life! :)

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Guisela January 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

Your sorda had been in my head for almost 12 years… I become a mom at 22 years old… I’m so proud of it. I was working as a junior manager in a jewelry trade company and I didn’t bother to quit the “dream” job to be a mom and housewife. During school and college years I was in the top 3 of my class and every time I meet an ex collegue they look at me like I’m a wasted mind, being just a mom. Why everybody think that you have to make a lot of your life before have children? What if we choose to be happy with less material things and more laughs and smiles from our little ones?
Also this is a generational thing, here in Central America my grandmother had been married since 15 yo, and that was the normal… And now women are trying to get pregnant after theirs mid 30′s…
I think is ok both ways when you are happy with your choice and if you someday feel like you have to do more, you can do it when your kids grows, ww are gonna be young enough to make a lot of things.
Love your post.

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Guisela January 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

*Your words (that’s what means the first two words of my comment)

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Jennifer Kropac January 18, 2013 at 10:18 am

I’m 40. I have lived a lot of life, but after being bestowed the title of mom just a few years ago ( I have a 1 & 3 year old), I still ran in ‘self defeating circles’. Your advice holds true at any age. Thank you for the reminder of what is important.

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Tanya January 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

Mom’s put so much pressure on themselves these days. I think as long as you love your child and work hard at providing for them your a great mom. I’m so glad you realized you don’t need validation that your a good mom. Thanks for the encouragement.

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Lacy January 18, 2013 at 11:26 am

LOVE this, Chaunie! I can so relate!!

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Kat January 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I had my first child at 29, after law school and while working on my PHD (which I never finished), and I thought, that a child doesn’t mean that you have to switch gears in your career plans. So I went back to school and did a graduate program in law. Then I had 3 more kids, worked in between, and still felt, that I was neither a good mom nor a good lawyer. Now I am home, every so often second guessing my decision to leave my career behind (at least for now), because guess what? Kids are only kids for so long. Jobs will always be out there. I nevertheless find it hard to deal with people who are telling me, that I wasted my education. I don’t think so. I still believe that I learned a lot and can give things to my kids with what I learned. If I had to do it over, I would have kids sooner, and pick an education that is not taking 7 years.

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Jennifer Fink January 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

You know what struck me most about your story? You’re not so much seeking validation for yourself as a mother, but for yourself as a woman. You — all of us — are living in a society that somehow equates being a mom with not really going anything worthwhile, as if, if you are “just” a mom, you are not a worthwhile human being.

We live in a time and place that pays great service to the idea that kids are our nation’s greatest resource, yet we don’t really put our money where our mouths are. We don’t value the people who care for or raise kids, and we don’t value the work that they do.

That attitude has got to change.

In the meantime, I tell you this: You are a worthwhile person. Not because of your mothering skills or your degrees or your accomplishments, but because you are a fantastic human being who is contributing to the world.

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StephJ January 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Well said! ITA. I enjoyed the piece because it spoke to our experiences as women, NOTHING we can do is ever good enough, it seems. Sometimes you just need to step back and say, “Hey, wait a minute! I AM good enough, just the way I am!” and accept yourself. that holds true no matter what age you are, or what age you had your children.

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Rebecca January 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

This is a great read regardless of how young or old we are! I think we can all relate to that feeling of needing to prove ourselves as moms. I’m not a young mom (I’m 37, with 3 kids from 1 to 10) but I’m often mistaken for one because I look younger than my age. (Which, of course, is not all bad…but it means I’ve received those disapproving, “she clearly has no clue!” looks from strangers who think I’m far younger than I am.) I had someone tell me they thought I was a 16 year old babysitter! I try very hard to never judge other moms, regardless of age or anything else. But I do think as we get a bit older, we develop more of a tough exterior if we didn’t have it before; we care less what people think with each passing year. It’s a definite benefit of getting older to balance the drawbacks. I know I would’ve had a lot more energy for my kids when I was 25; but I also know I have a lot more patience now than I would’ve then. My perspective has changed, but partly it’s just from kids, not just aging. Keep up the great work – you’re obviously a great mom!

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Sarah Powers January 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Love this, Chaunie. I agree with other commenters that it’s about much more than just being a young mom – it’s that feeling we get when we want to “explain” or justify to those who might be judging. It’s me in the pediatrician’s office this morning wanting to say “no wait! I promise I don’t ALWAYS bring the iPad to plug my 2yo in at every opportunity! and yes I KNOW there are more educational apps than Star Wars Angry Birds!” :)

And, in the end, it’s remembering that the only ones whose judgments or opinions matter are the ones squirming in the cart or playing on the iPad…and they have an amazing ability to know your true worth as a mom. :)

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Emily January 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I am the 43-year-old (first time) mother of a 21-month-old. I waited. I did the “important” stuff first. Now I get to do the mommy thing, but I am still carrying the load of the “important” stuff. On a daily basis, I have the internal struggle about what’s really important, and the accompanying guilt that goes with it. I cherish each moment with my son and wish there were more. He is far too used to saying “bye bye” to me at his tender age. I also wish I had the energy that I had in my 20s (it’s definitely hard being old with an active little guy).

Interestingly, when my mother was your age in 1957, she had three kids and one on the way. Although she had similar self-judgement issues (as do we all), I suspect they were less a reflection of society’s expectation of what her choices were.

Having it all is a bill of goods that we’ve been sold, and that we bought willingly. But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, at any age. The challenge is to not let others’ expectations of us define how we think of ourselves.

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Chaunie@TinyBlueLines January 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

These are some really great points. Sarah, I love the Ipad example! So true!

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Ashlee Bush January 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Awesome job, Chaunie!

I think you nailed a lot of things that us young momma’s feel!

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Aja January 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I loved this! I wasn’t a super young mom but still struggle with a lot of what you talked about. Thank you for the encouragement and reminder of what really matters.

Aja

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Heidi January 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Can very much relate as well. Great post Chaunie

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Nina January 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I can understand why you felt the need to prove yourself. Young moms have so much stacked against them, and it really does take a ton of determination to make things all go right. That said, there are plenty of older moms who screw up. I’m glad that you used that motivation and that you’re now in a place you want to be!

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Krishann January 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Loved this post. I too can relate.

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Nicole January 25, 2013 at 12:22 am

Thank you so much for sharing this blog post! I am 26 year old mom of a 20 month old from an unplanned pregnancy….I had already finished college started a “career” just moved in with my boyfriend and no plans of becoming a mother but those blue lines dont lie! I too freaked out like you, will i be a good mother? I think I spent more time at Barnes & Noble reading/buying baby books and anything related to parenting just to prepare. We got engaged when I was pregnant and I originally thought I could fool everyone by saying I just happened to get pregnant right after being engaged lol. Well long story short I never got my wedding…just a court house marriage 5 months post partum. I left my job at the end of my pregnancy and stayed home for a full year with my baby boy and now work evenings at the hospital so that I can still be home with my baby boy but earn that extra income we need. We are renting but I work hard to make our house nice and save for that home I hope we can buy soon. I feel such pressure to prove that I’m a good mom because Im looked at as a young mom but im 26!!!!! When did that become a young mom!??!?! People act shocked when they see pics of my son or hear about what I do all day long with him. Im almost insulted that people are surprised that Im so domestic and involved in mothering my baby! Anyways, I feel I can relate to you somewhat and it is clear that you are an amazing mother! I think any mother that questions herself is a good mother :) You dont have to prove yourself to anyone else though! Thanks so much again for sharing!!! inspirational :)

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Kim January 25, 2013 at 11:52 am

Great post! I had my first child at age 30, so at 36 with a 3 and 6 year old at home I am definitely not a young mom, however I can totally relate to how you are feeling. I chose to be a SAHM, but somehow never felt worthy enough in society. I felt like I was JUST a stay at home mom, and in saying so felt like I didn’t meet the expectations of others. Sure I get the comments “Oh that is the toughest job in the world”, blah, blah, blah…but I always thought they were just being kind. After six years of hearing the same thing, I am slowly realizing that it just doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. My children are happy, my husband is happy, and most importantly I am happy! I now look at the role I chose as an honor – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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paula January 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

LOVE This!!! :) so true! <3

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Catherine February 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I can definitely relate to this article. I am also a meticulous planner, and so far, each step of my life plan has gone completely as expected. I’m 21, about to graduate with my BSc, and am waiting to hear back about medical school admissions. However, I just found out last month that I’m pregnant.
I absolutely hate to admit it, but since I’ve found out, a lot of my worries have come from imagining what other people will think. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m some dumb girl that got herself knocked up and has no ambition in life. I feel like people will think that I’m throwing away all of my potential.
But the truth is, I’m excited! I’ve been with my significant other since junior high, and we’ve lived together completely independently for 3 years. I know we can handle this, and that it’s what we want. I think that having this baby will only strengthen my determination to reach my goals. This article puts things in perspective. You’re an inspiration, I hope that I can overcome my insecurities and put all my focus on what matters – my family.

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ranger forum April 9, 2013 at 11:51 pm

It’s going to be finish of mine day, but before finish I am reading this great piece of writing to improve my know-how.

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