I’m a young mum – that doesn’t mean my life is over

As a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mum one day. I’d wear pillows in my T-shirts to mimic pregnancy and rock my baby dolls to sleep in my arms. 

This desire to have children remained as I grew up. I couldn’t see myself as a budding businesswoman, athlete, or celebrity, but I could imagine myself surrounded by children – going to sports games, packing lunches, and reading bedtime stories.

Living in a religious culture that deemed motherhood as the primary function of a woman, my views mirrored those of the other girls and women in the social circles I lived within. 

When I married young, at 23, my husband and I didn’t really make a plan for having or not having children. Yet, two years later we were in the hospital, and I was giving birth to my first little boy.

In a matter of hours, I had transitioned from primarily thinking about my own personal needs, wants, and routines to being solely obsessed with keeping a tiny human alive.

I remember being discharged from the hospital petrified it was now my job to raise a child – my child. During those early days, I don’t remember begrudging the complete imposition on my life this baby had provided – he was what I had always wanted, dreamed about.

In the four years following the birth of my first child, I went on to have two more little boys. My childhood dreams of having a family had been fulfilled, but as I emerged from the sleepless state of newborn babies, people I didn’t know – at supermarkets, meetings, and school gates – increasingly told me how young I looked to have three children.

At 29, it had never occurred to me I was a ‘young mum’, but I’m starting to realise how countercultural it is, at least among my peers, to have children at my age. 

I’m now 33, and while I’m done having kids, I know of many women who are just starting on their motherhood journey – either trying to have their own children or looking into adoption. 

These are women who may have spent the last decade establishing their careers, going on adventures, having late-night drinks, and waking up to quiet mornings of solitude. I have spent it changing nappies, begging for bedtime, and rushing to get kids to school on time. 

Lauren
Every morning, I wake up to three humans who want my full attention (Picture: Lauren Crosby Medlicott)

There are fleeting moments when I feel a tinge of regret I had my kids so young. Like recently, a friend I’d grown up with came for dinner and as we sat around the table, I listened to how she has made a name for herself in her work.

She left university, worked for a while, got her master’s degree, and then went on to live abroad, working in a meaningful career she loves. And with a CV as extensive as hers, she could get any job she applied for in the future, practically guaranteeing her security. 

That was a moment that left me wishing I had waited to have children. I could have travelled to European cities, gone back to university to pursue a Master’s, devoted endless hours to building up a budding career – much like my friend had.

Sometimes, I decide to live dangerously and flick through Instagram and Facebook – a sure way to make myself feel like a dull bore. I see peers who go on exotic holidays, dine at delicious restaurants, wear beautiful clothes, and pursue unusual hobbies swarm my social media feeds. 

The minute I start to compare my rather monotonous life to theirs, I tend to wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to have kids. 

But the truth is, when I look in the faces of my three boys, all my little regrets vanish. I am completely in love with them, and my life feels rich – in a different way – because of their existence. I may have missed a lot of things in my twenties and now thirties, but I have also gained so much. 

Every morning, I wake up to three humans who want my full attention. They want my cuddles, my help, my listening ear. 

I get the full download of their school days, football matches, and playdates. We take drives in the car where they share all their random thoughts and feelings with me. And at night, everyone is desperate for goodnight kisses when the lights go off for bedtime. They have become my best friends. 

Having my kids young meant I had to sacrifice some of life’s beautiful joys. I think I would have had more hobbies, written a novel, hiked mountains, made more friends, and built a professional reputation by now.

But having kids young isn’t all doom and gloom. For one, I was able to get pregnant quite easily. I feel really lucky for that and don’t take it at all for granted. 

As a young mother, I have had lots of energy to get me through the sleepless nights of breastfeeding, illness, and teething – I certainly don’t have the same energy now that I did when I was 25. 

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But possibly the sweetest gift of having my children early has been the ability to grow with them.

As I evolve into the woman I want to be – content, compassionate, and confident – I get to see them transform into individual people with unique personalities, quirks, and feelings. We are changing together, day by day. 

I know that in just a few years’ time, I will have much more capacity to pursue the career and hobbies I have put on pause. Once they are all school age, I want to get the novel in my head onto paper, pursue a qualification in journalism, and go on overnight trips with my husband. 

Having children young isn’t a death sentence to dreams, it’s just a slight delay in pursuing them.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk. 

Share your views in the comments below.

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