Today I turned 22, which isn’t a significant number, but regardless, I am really excited. As most of you know, I had Nono a month before my 17th birthday. I was really pleased when I turned 17, as I hated the ’16 and pregnant’ cliché. I had to go back into hospital a few days after having Noah as I had an infection, and the a nurse said ‘you have your head screwed on for a 16 year old’ and I interrupted with ‘I’m 17 in two weeks’, not realising that I sounded exactly like a child that screams ‘I’M NOT A BABY MUMMY, I’M 3’ whilst their mothers try to get them into London aquarium for free. (I’m not bitter, Noah)
Every time I gain a year, I feel a little more relaxed. ‘Okay’ I think to myself, ‘being 21 with two kids isn’t that bad’. Although, my age doesn’t tend to come up in conversation at all anymore. I was so nervous about the school playground parents, but I needn’t of worried, they are mostly lovely and I don’t feel out of place, because we all have an automatic common interest – our children, and even if we run out of things to say about the sprogs, we can complain about the weather/discuss the area/yada yada. It’s only expected that I feel nervous about being rejected by the other parents, when Noah was a few weeks old I joined a breastfeeding group. Everyone was pleasant enough, and all were still in the phase of postpartum where ‘the birth’ was the main topic. Birth stories were exchanged, tears came as those spoke of their breastfeeding issues, and I kept trying to get involved. But it was clear I was a child to them. What would married anaesthetists, advertising consultants and accountants possibly have in common with a 17 year old who had left sixth form (not by choice) to have a baby?
I stayed though, I kept trying. I remember thinking, if they would just have a conversation with me then they’ll see that I’m nice. But as the session drew to a close, a mum I had been really trying with, leaned over and touched the arm of a mum sitting next to me and said, ‘are you around to join us for a walk into Greenwich and grab a coffee and cake after this?’ I could feel myself getting upset as they swapped their names/baby’s names/birth weights and as I started to wrap Noah into the sling, I knew I was about to get really upset, so I just sort of hurried out, with the sling untied just holding Noah tightly into my chest. And I sobbed, really sobbed when I left. I mean, hormones aren’t really your friends postpartum anyway, so this really hit me hard. It dawned on me that to everyone in that room, I really was very young and despite having something in common (a frickin baby!) there wasn’t any way that we were going to have any common ground, and I wasn’t worth an invite for coffee and cake.
On the other hand, I was growing frustrated with my own closest friends. They booked tickets to Kavos, and didn’t ask if I would like to come. I was fuming. I knew I wouldn’t go, couldn’t go. But how dare they assume that just because I had a baby, it meant I no longer wanted invites? Of course, I got told I was being ridiculous. And I was, but it still hurt. Their night outs often frustrated me too, I wouldn’t look at the group chat, or tagged Facebook photos and snapchat. Even when I had babysitters, it didn’t feel like it was enough. I couldn’t shake this feeling of being left out, even though I had something so precious at home, which they weren’t experiencing either. It got much better as I got older, and Noah got older. By 19, we were more than just mother and son, we were best friends. He was such a joy to take anywhere and everybody loved him, that helped. I started to not feel the need to go out, I was happy to be doing something different and happy to spend time with him. To the point where today, I find the thought of more than a night away from him very daunting and they are now few and far between as we live so far from family.
So, today I am 22. I’m hoping this year that I continue to grow as a person, but especially as a mother. Going back into education has given me a new outlook. I don’t feel quite so much of ‘just’ a Mum, and I’ve started to feel that I will be a valuable member of society one day, and ultimately my biggest goal is to have my two boys look up to me and be proud that their Mum who didn’t make friends at the milky nook club, and felt like an imposter, got back up on her feet and gave it her best shot. Even if it has taken a few years ✨