Young mums need our support, not our shame.
My sister ran away from home when I was only nine years old. She came back to us six months pregnant, giving birth to my nephew just two months before her 21st birthday.
I was only a child at the time, but now I’m an adult I can finally fully appreciate just what a hell of a job she did raising a son so young.
To start with, there were the questions. The rude, intrusive, judgmental questions. I remember, at age nine, bragging to my school friends that I was going to become an auntie. The girls at my school asked questions like “How old is your sister?” and “Is she married?” Eventually, the questions became less and less delicate — before finally reaching the blunt “was it an accident?” stage.
I quickly grew tired of this question, and my responses varied between anger and embarrassment.
Then there was the sudden change of identity she endured, and then embraced.
When she fell pregnant, my sister had just turned 20. She was ridiculously intelligent, studying to become a forensic scientist, liked metal music, and was a bit of a punk-rebel. She was hardly what I would’ve described as ‘maternal’ — but of course she wasn’t maternal, she was almost still a child herself. Having a baby changed all of that.
University was put on hold. It was time to be a grown up. Caring for a brand new little human literally turned my 20-year-old sister from a young girl into a mother overnight.