New Mum, young and reason to be proud

Here in Wetville, quite a lot of young women become mothers before they are 20. One of them is my friend K. I first knew K when she was just 13, a beautiful, shy girl in school uniform. The following year I gave birth to my daughter and the year after that, K began babysitting for us. The year after that, K became pregnant. It was a tough time for her family and brought up memories of past teen pregnancies for older women in her family.

K and her partner B now have a beautiful five month old daughter, Hayley. K shares the childminding of my own daughter with her Mum and I couldn't be happier with the love and fun they share. K and B and Hayley live with K's parents and are saving and planning to go flatting on their own. Today they went to collect a fridge and vacuum cleaner and I asked K if she would like to continue looking after my daughter when they move. Thankfully, she said yes. I pass all Brighid's clothes on to Hayley and other baby things have gone there as well. I've been thinking of what I would like to give them as a present for their new journey. Being me, I've been thinking about making pots of silverbeet so the gift can keep on growing and giving.

K is 17 now, a very impressive mother and someone who is making a positive contribution to our community. She knows many of the other young mums and despite being shy herself, supports and encourages others to go to the young mums post natal coffee group. She passes baby clothes on to other friends and is aware of and friends with others without the partner and family support she enjoys and appreciates. With the babysitting help of her Mum, she works a few hours a week in a local cafe and saves carefully for their current and future needs. B works for low wages and I am very glad that my tax goes in part to provide family assistance for families like K & B.

If K was still at school or attending a tertiary training organisation, our government would be subsidising her study. Right now K is studying motherhood as she goes and making a fine job of it. There will be plenty of time left for her to pursue further study and better paid work later on while some of her peers begin their families at 30 like I did. I hope this government does not penalise her for birthing first and studying later.

I have learnt a very great deal in the last year from K. It has been a privilege, once again, to learn from her family. When young women want to pursue motherhood and we support them just as we support their peers in their formal training ambitions, they can be the best they want to be and we all benefit. It's time to rethink young motherhood. Our vulnerable mothers are only vulnerable because they lack support. We can all be some of that support.


Sharonnz said…
Beautifully put, Sandra.
Gillybean said…
Ditto. Brilliant. I was that teen Mum too. Luckily for me I knew a few people with the kind of attitude you have.
Rob said…
Sandra, One thing that has struck me over the past couple of years is the lateness of our "breeding" in The Modern West. We met a fifteen year old who had nine month old twins in the hilltribes of Thailand. We have been reading British history, and are engrossed in Elizabethan times (and thereabouts) - is it just hte books we have chosen or were they all married by fifteen?!
I believe we have convinced ourselves a sixteen year old is still a child. Reality is, they CAN be adult at this age. And as you suggest, it's something we need to support.
Well if you have a life expectancy of 46, then starting having children at 38 would be unwise. I expect that was the case in Elizabethan England. I tried looking it up and of course not quite everything is on the net. Wish I had university library access again.

Healthwise, I would really rather that no one was bearing twins at 15. That is a very young body (which in Elizabethan times would not have been menstruating yet) to be birthing two babies. While 16 and 17 year olds are big enough to birth easily, younger girls than that do experience more complications. We live in odds times, when the age of first menstruation (menarche, I think is the word) is so very very young relative to physical and emotional maturity.

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