Today’s young mom interview has a special place in my heart-she’s my cousin, a hilarious person who shares my love of Kronk and other cartoon-inspired classics, an aspiring educator, and an amazing young mom who has quite the rocky start into motherhood.
I adore Mandy’s blog, not just because she’s my cousin, but because her writing is hilarious, heartfelt, and it’s like looking into my past. She talks about so much of all of the emotions, fears, hopes, and dreams that I have as a young mom and every time I read her blog, I am taken back to that tumultuous and intense time in my life when everything felt so raw and new. I just want to take Mandy and hug her and tell her, I know! I get it! And you will be fine, I promise!
But I can’t. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about motherhood, especially young motherhood, it’s that we all travel our own journey. Follow Mandy’s on her blog, B Sides: The Amateur Mom and read on her for interview!
Tell us about yourself:
I’m 22, a big sister, a wife, a teacher, and a mom (Talk about job titles). I was substitute teaching before I had Brady and absolutely adored teaching- but now that he’s here, I have to say there’s nowhere I would rather be than here: being the recipient of puke on my chest and getting to be his mom.
What was your reaction to finding out you were pregnant?
Well, it wasn’t one of my most dignity-filled moments. I was at the end of my senior year of college, preparing for graduation with Honor, my coming year of grad school, student teaching, possibly a Christmas engagement… Then I took the one test I couldn’t study for, the one test I was hoping to fail-and discovered that I was having a baby. There was a lot of screaming and crying involved. It was really difficult to decipher everything I was feeling- sadness, loss, anger, terror, disappointment- and more tears than I had ever cried in my life. It was the first time in my adult life that I had no idea of how to proceed with life. That feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what would come, was pretty new to my organized, privileged life.
My boyfriend was so much more mature and determined about the baby than I was. I could tell he was just as shocked as I was, but he never strayed or hinted that he would be anywhere but by my side. Dare I say it- he was actually happy when we found out- something I both hated and loved him for at the time. He was the rationality that countered my frantic panic. And he still is!
Did you consider adoption or abortion? What made you decide against it?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a consideration as much as I would call it a thought- but anytime we tried to talk about adoption it felt selfish. I was lucky enough to know that I truly loved my boyfriend and wanted to spend my life with him. I knew the road ahead would be challenging, but we both felt that having the baby and keeping him around was the right thing to do. It was difficult though- it was really one of those times where we had to choose between what was right and what was easy. Those dilemmas are always underestimated in magnitude in my opinion.
How did you tell your parents? What was their reaction?
Well, they had been noticing I was increasingly subdued each time I had visited (due to my guilty conscience)… my mom called me one day crying, asking why I was so depressed and if it was her fault. I hated to do it over the phone, but I told her, and she responded “Is that it? You’re just pregnant, not suicidal?” After we hung up, about a minute and a half later, my dad called to yell at me, asking why I wouldn’t have told him sooner he was a grandpa- he was excited! This was neither the reaction I expected nor the one I felt I deserved; I was still very upset with myself. Their support really helped me get through my guilt in the long run though.
Did you bond with your baby during your pregnancy?
This is tough to say, but not really. I was mostly determined to ignore my pregnancy as much as possible during my first and second trimester- which was hard to do, since I was almost constantly ill. Once I started showing, after I got married, and once I started getting used to being pregnant, I was more comfortable being “okay” with my baby. It sounds bad, but it’s almost as if I had to get permission to be happy about being pregnant. Permission from who, you ask? I guess I had to get permission from myself- which took a while.
What stigmas and stereotypes did you encounter as an unwed mother?
Hmmm. The doctor’s office I went through (they are a group of doctors from the University) really made me feel that as a young mother, I had no idea what was going on in my body. A doctor actually argued with me about what I was feeling! That went over really well as you can imagine- a male doctor telling me how my pregnancy made me feel… Maybe they do that to all pregnant women, but I just had a feeling that if someone my mom’s age had been describing my symptoms, the doctor wouldn’t dare correct her.
How do you deal with the rude people?
Like the lady who laughed at me when I mentioned I was pregnant when I went to find my wedding dress? I wish I could say I always had a witty remark and laughed it off, but I just ended up getting really good at dirty looks. There comes a time, however, when you build up enough self-confidence to just roll your eyes and smile. And now? One look at Brady and I don’t even remember the rudeness. It’s worth all the “You-look-a-little-young-to-be-a-mom” comments and false assumptions of my morality just to be his mother and primary snuggle-buddy.
Describe what being a mom means to you:
To me, it means meeting your children as the love of your life. I know I would sacrifice anything for Brady- my travel plans, my precious hours of sleep, my dream wedding, my vomit-free hair. And I would WANT to. I didn’t really understand this kind of love until I met Brady officially- but I think being a mother isn’t as much what you do as much as it is the fact that you would do anything, unconditionally, for your child. Including getting poop under your fingernails.