“I want to have children young. My mum won’t let me.”

 

My grandmother has always said that while some women were meant to be nurses, athletes, bankers, or writers, she was always destined to be a mother.

She married my grandfather as an “old maid”, which was 24 back in the 1950’s, and they had six beautiful children in their 30 years together. She talks about those early days as a SAHM with such fondness, such clarity, despite her fading memory, it’s impossible not to feel nostalgia for an era I wasn’t even around for.

An era when women having children in their early 20’s was completely normal, when it wasn’t looked down on as an ‘immature decision’ or a choice to ‘miss out’ on what were supposed to be the ‘best years of your life.’ Not at all. Admittedly there was an expectation placed on women at the time, that they were to be the baby makers while their respective husbands were the breadwinners, but even today, when feminism is making great leaps and bounds in the area of male and female equality, it’s still apparently not a woman’s prerogative when she has kids.

Matilda and her mum in 2007.

If it's earlier than 25 she's too young, and if it's older than 40 she's too old.

So why do I care about the unfairness and judgement surrounding this situation?

Well, because I'm 20 years old, in my final year of university, and dying to have a baby.

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Not yet, but soon.

This might sound strange coming from a woman who is young enough to be on her P-plates, but that's because the 21st century woman has been programmed to feel strange about women wanting to have children this young. It's not for everyone, but it is for me.

One problem. My mum won't let me.

Matilda and her mum today.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly old enough to make my own decisions in life, but my mum and I are very close. I trust her often brutal opinion more than I trust my own. I value her acceptance. Which is why every time I coo over a baby in a stroller, or show her my list of baby names, or jokingly ask her to pinch my arm to show me how bad child birth is going to be, she has the equivalent of a heart attack in the kitchen and tells me to wash my mouth out with soap.

She just doesn't want me to have kids so soon.

My mother had me at 30, my brother at 31 and my younger sister at 39. And as she puts it, that was the perfect combination. She travelled blissfully young, enjoying time spent on cruises or in a Balinese resort with her girlfriends, or full-time work, and thought kids were a topic for way down the track. Which is perfect, if that's what you want.

Matilda (in the pink jumper), her brother and Mum.

But that's not what I want.

As the eldest child, I've always seen myself as a surrogate mother to my two younger siblings. To the point where many times mum and I have said the exact same thing at the exact same time to them - probably "pick up your clothes off the floor!" - and shared a wry smile. As the eldest, I've also always been driven. For now it's driving towards my career as a journalist (and possibly even a lawyer as I consider a second degree), and for the past 13 years it had been driving through the often tumultuous waters of studying and exams. I've also travelled - with my family, girls and my boyfriend - on numerous occasions. I'm planning Europe at the end of the year.

Matilda and her younger sister in Sri Lanka.

So I've never once felt like I'd be missing out on grand experiences by having children. I see them as a future addition, not a subtraction.

Don't be fooled, at 20 I've got my head screwed on. I would never bring children into this world until my partner and I were financially, mentally and physically in the right place to do so. I want them to have the kind of loving and positive relationship with me as I have with my own mother.

You know, when she's not telling me off for gazing longingly at the Cotton On Kids shop.

Ask yourself: Is there really a perfect age to have kids? Can it really be described as 'giving up' your life, when this is the exact life you want? No, it shouldn't be. But I've heard it many times before.

So, mum. If you're reading this. I love you.

But you're wrong, Isla is an excellent girls name.

TAP and scroll through the gallery for the names going out of fashion in Australia...

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