parents

"Why is this such a shocking age to have a baby?"

Kate

By KATE PIASECKA

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kate and by today’s standards, I’m a young mum.

Let me explain.

In January of 2009 I moved from Perth to Melbourne by myself with a suitcase of clothes and a couch to sleep on; a 22 year old from a small city looking to meet new people and try new things for a couple of years, before heading off overseas to see the world.

In June of the same year I met an amazing guy on a tram (I’m not kidding, how Melbourne of me). Three weeks later, I was pregnant.

<Insert massive melt down here.>

My Catholic parents were expecting a wedding, my amazing friends were excited but had no idea how to react or what to do, my boyfriend’s parents were happy but slightly concerned at the prospect of their son’s very new girlfriend having their grandchild, and my travel plans went out the window.

Fast forward nearly four years and surprisingly, life went on. And it went on WELL. We have a fantastic relationship and above all else, we have an amazing little girl with massive personality who is almost three years old. My partner is 29 and I am almost 27. His career is progressing, I’m eight months away from finishing my degree and I have a brilliant job in PR. We are lucky enough to live in a great area and our friends and family are so supportive.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though.

The average age of a new mum in our area is around 33 so compared to most local mums, I was young. I’m often told I don’t look my age- apparently I look 22ish.

You will not believe the comments I’ve copped. From the day I looked obviously pregnant I’ve been the subject of snide remarks, backhanded compliments and very forward questioning.

When I was pregnant I’d get the pitying looks. It would enrage me. I don’t need PITY. I’m having a BABY. I was lucky enough to conceive naturally so be HAPPY for me. I’d just grin back at people but feel awful inside.

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I’ve literally lost count of the times I’ve been asked the following:

“Is she YOURS?”

“How OLD are you?”

Kate’s daughter

“Are you the nanny?

I’ve had so many WTF moments I’ve begun to laugh in disbelief at the sheer rudeness of people.

“Is your daughter wearing ANY sunscreen?” (In THAT tone, you know what I mean. It wasn’t a polite question.)

No. I’m letting her run around in the sun with no sun protection on. Later I’ll allow her to smoke cigarettes and shoot up heroin. Because that’s what we young and irresponsible mothers do.

The worst I’ve copped was when my daughter was about a year old. I was out shopping with her in a crowded street and a guy came up to me, out of nowhere, and yelled:

“I hope you spent that four grand on HER and not YOURSELF!!”

It took me a while to click, but once I realised he was referring to the Baby Bonus, he was out of earshot so my clever and witty comeback fell on deaf ears.

I have finally reached the point where my skin is now thick enough to ignore the comments. They definitely don’t come as hard and fast as they used to, but my self-esteem has taken a battering and I know I’m not alone.

‘Young Mum’ shouldn’t be a taboo subject. Don’t pity us. Don’t presume. Don’t question how we raise our children. We don’t need special treatment.

Meeting my other half and having our daughter has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, even if it was all a big surprise. I am grateful for my life every single day.

Kate Piasecka is a Melbourne-based PR Consultant, writer, mama-to-one, cheese enthusiast and Friday night wine-induced online shopping addict. You can follow her on Twitter: @KatePiasecka

How old were you when you had your first baby? What were your thoughts on motherhood when you were in your early 20s?

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