It’s something I’ve grown accustomed to over the past six years. I can usually see it coming as the person I’m talking to scans my face, looking for visible evidence or pondering our conversation for context clues. Sometimes it’s never spoken out loud, but often, it is.
“You are way too young to have kids!”
Now, I’m no stranger to being told I’m “too young”, seeing as I was just under 21 years old when my husband and I got married. I received the disapproving looks, comments, and advice to just wait over and over again.
I know I look young. By many standards, I am young. But there’s something different about being told I’m “too young” to have kids. It implies an immaturity or a questioning of my ability to properly parent.
By now, my go-to is to ask the person if they really think 29 is too young to be a parent, but if I could, or had time to, I would ask them what the appropriate age to procreate is. I’d tell them that nobody is actually ready to become a parent until they are holding their child, thrust into the overwhelmingly beautiful (and at times, just plain overwhelming) reality of caring for a little life. We learn by becoming. By doing. Every single one of the night time feedings, the dirty diapers, the grapes cut in half, boo-boos kissed, it makes us learn. It makes us parents. It makes us adequate.
Do I think I am less equipped than someone a decade older than me to guide my children through life? Absolutely not. Talk to any mother, of basically any age, and they will most likely tell you the exact same thing: You will have times of feeling ill-equipped. It will always be life-changing, regardless of if you’re 23 or 53.
I take issue at this point in my life with any woman being told she’s “too” anything. How many of us have been told that they’re too opinionated? Too shy? Too thin? Too high-maintenance? Too emotional? Carry that over into motherhood. Moms, have you been told that you’re too old to have children? Too young, like me?
These are words that are meant to hold us back from our potential. The sad truth is that we’re already telling ourselves, either out loud, in our heads, or subconsciously by our actions, that we are “too” something. That’s not okay, and it’s not okay to hear it from others, either. We are exactly who our kids need us to be; and in the areas we need some extra refining, we receive grace to be imperfect, and wake up in the morning to try again.
I will agree with one “too” statement, though. It all goes too fast. So whether you’re told you’re “too” young or “too” old, hold your head high, and continue to be the parent they need you to be. Because you’re doing great.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.