Ten years on, ten things I have learnt about becoming a mum at 21.
Article by Natalie de Byl.
Becoming a new mum six weeks shy of your 22nd birthday is incredibly daunting. Now, a decade on, here are ten points I want to share with my 21 year old self.
1. Age does not determine your ability to be a good mother. Your morals, prospects and character do.
2. You’re going to say goodbye to a few friends and at that time it hurts. But they too, are only 21, and they don’t have a newborn baby to be responsible for. So now is the time to cherish the friends who check do in, and do the best you can in return when your two hands are briefly free.
3. Appreciate your body. Child-bearing and birth is still today one of the most (if not the only) primalistic journey a woman will experience. Be kind to your body as it grows and give a mental thank-you to your body today. At 21, your body bounced back perfectly to its former self.
4. At 21 no one wants to chat to you at mothers groups and as a result, face-value judgment is at an all time high. So too, is your cognitive bias. Being ostracised for your outfit, age and appearance stings. As each day passes, the thicker your skin grows. Continue to believe in yourself and your abilities as a mother.
5. Postpartum Depression does not make you a failure. Realising it, seeking help and treating it, makes you a better mother.
6. The phrase “Never judge a book by its cover” suddenly becomes so real the first time you step out in a bikini, tattoos exposed and a baby on my hip. Remember your self-worth? Own it.
7. What the hell is Centrelink?, you say. Stop being too proud to accept the baby bonus. You know you worked damn hard paying your taxes. Just be sure to not overestimate your family income to avoid Centrelink debt.
8. Not being able to breastfeed does not make you less of a mother, just as choosing to formula-feed also does not make you less of a mother. A happy mum is a happy baby. Do whatever you need to do to make your world the best it can be.
9. Sleep deprivation is a temporary moment in time that feels like it drags in the moment, but your spritely 21 year old self can handle it. Two kids done by 25 and your sleeps are back to eight hours. #nailedit.
10. A decade on, did you really miss out on that much? You fell in love, went to a tonne of gigs, ran two half marathons, bought a house, danced until the sun rose, landed your dream job and still parented like a boss.
Girl, you’re a great mother x