Twenty-two isn’t that young. More and more women are having babies earlier in life. In fact, by MTV’s standards I’m way too old to be a mother.
However, all things considered, twenty-two is young. Not too young to be a mom, but young all the same.
In most regards, being young has its advantages when raising a baby. When we’re out at a restaurant and she throws all of her toys and food to the ground around her high chair, it’s no problem for me to bend over and pick them up over and over and over again. When she decides to stay up all night just because, college has trained me well for that adventure. And maybe, just maybe, Miley Cyrus will still be relevant when she’s a teenager (in that flabby-Madonna-arms kind of way) and I’ll be there with a flawless rendition of “The Climb.”
Yet, there are some circumstances in which my age becomes a hindrance.
1.) Emotions are running high. Always. My hormones are only beginning to even out. I hit puberty just yesterday, didn’t I? When my baby girl falls and hits her head, followed by screaming and gasping for air, I cry. I cry hard. When my doctor told me she had torticollis (an unbelievably common and easily treatable muscle tightness) I cried like she had told me O was switched at birth. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people whose emotions have become much more even keeled over the years to slap me around a bit.
2.) Wanna talk about poop? It’s not easy keeping my old friends, much less making new ones my age. When they want to talk about finals, beer or fashion, I want to talk about pacifier weaning, formula and onesies. And of course, poop. The other day I was at AT&T and the gentleman helping me was only a few years my senior. At one point during his sales pitch on the newest tablet, I looked at my baby in my arms and said excitedly, “did you poopy?! I think you did. You poopied!” When I looked up, the nice salesman wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Finally, he just shrugged and said, “yay.”
3.) “Is that the girl from Teen Mom?” I may be twenty-two, but with full make-up and wardrobe I look eighteen. Without it, which is all the time, I look like a preteen. Which explains the stares and headshakes I get walking through a public place alone (my husband is my age but looks thirty, so it’s not so bad when we’re together). Once, O was getting a wee bit overtired at the mall. I sat on a bench and put her in her car seat, rocking it with my foot. As two middle-aged women walked in front of me, one said to the other: “It’s hard to raise a baby when you’re a baby.” In my head: a montage of me standing up and pointing my finger in her face, shouting something like “it’s hard to raise a baby no matter what and my baby is perfect and I’m this many years old so shut up you butt face.” In reality: I nodded. Which brings me to number four.
4.) I’m shy. High school isn’t some far away memory where I start sentences with “back in my day…” Those four years weren’t all that long ago and they weren’t all that fun. I’ve always been a shy girl, but mean girls and bad grades didn’t help me build my confidence. Therefore, in situations such as a physical therapist keeping my screaming baby on her tummy, I might have waited a second too long before I said, “nope” and picked her up. But, I’m getting better. Next time a woman makes a snide remark in the mall, I’ll be sure to call her a butt face like a grown woman.