I’m a Mum and…

I’m a Mum and…

PROUD.

story of mum exhibitionBritMums - Leading the Conversation

Yes, that’s right. I know I’m a mum and many other things, and I was going to use my Story of Mum mini-exhibition to tell you all about my secret ninja double life, but then it wouldn’t be very secret. I was also going to use it to list all of the fabulously cool and fun things I am aside from being a mum, but I’m far too modest. Besides, you’ve probably already noticed how fanbloodytabulous I am anyway, so I’ve decided to use it to tell you that I am proud. This coincides with both my Story of Mum mini exhibition and the #NoTeenShame campaign that I’ve been reading up on lately.

Until fairly recently, I’ve been ashamed of the fact that I was a teenage mother. When I was pregnant, I got the stares, I got the whispers, I got the lectures. I was told “well that’s the end of your life now then.” I hid my pregnancy with clothes as much as I could, and rarely left the house other than to go to sixth form.

I thought that this might change when I had my daughter, but it didn’t. I told myself that it was because I wasn’t doing anything “other than being a mum”, so I avoided places that I could bump into too many people that I knew.

This would clear up when I finished my gap year and started uni though, right? Wrong. While it did shock the doubters into silence, it didn’t stop me from feeling the shame that had been built up for so long. I realised that I was slightly nervous when explaining to the students of my own age why I couldn’t come out for drinks after lectures. I could feel my face burning as I picked up my daughter from the university nursery and pushed her through crowds of classmates at the bus stop. While they probably weren’t judging me at all, the shock on their faces took me back to being the pregnant seventeen-year-old who was told she had no future. I was embarrassed.

It wore off. I started getting good grades at uni and the nursery staff were forever commending me on how bright and well behaved my daughter was. I was proud. I am proud; I just wish that I had enjoyed motherhood properly from the start.

This is why I was so saddened by @CandiesOrg’s #NoTeenPreg campaign. They are using tactics that will make other young mothers feel ashamed of what should be the most joyful experience possible. Why should a mother not enjoy parenthood just because of her age? Young women and teenagers have been having children since man begun, why has it been made so taboo today?

Using posters with comments such as “You think being in school sucks?” followed by a picture of a bottle is offensive. School didn’t suck, and neither does motherhood. Putting pictures of celebrities who are idolised by teens next to these quotes won’t stop teens from having children, it will just make other teens look down on them more. Having Carly Rae Jepson tell them that they should be “changing the world, not diapers” is not going to stop teens from changing diapers. It will stop many young mothers from feeling like she can change the world though. Bullying and isolation is not going to create brighter futures for anyone. We all have a right to enjoy parenthood.

I’m a teen mum and proud.

#NoTeenPreg #NoTeenShame

I created this:

Image

I curated this:

As part of my StoryOfMum mini-exhibition, I’m sharing this photo from the Brit Mums tour (I think!) What I love about this is how happy this mum looks. She’s on child number six, and – while she may not be a teen mum – she’s a mum and NOT ashamed! And what a beautiful bump she’s sporting.



 

 

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8 thoughts on “I’m a Mum and…

  1. I’m so glad you’re proud and claiming it, so you should be! I also LOVE your ninja mums identity parade on our site. So pleased to have found you via the wonderful @prymface and #youngmumschat, and thank you so much for hosting this lovely mini exhibition and sharing such an important message. xx

  2. You should totally be a proud mum! I wish every young mum could read this post and know that they are allowed to enjoy being a parent with their head held high! And I wish everyone who looks down on young mums could read this and hand their heads in shame! You go girl!! X

  3. What a great post!

    I became a mum at 17, and like you went on to uni and excelled the expectations of those who wrote me off for getting pregnant young. Even now that my teen pregnancy baby is 11 and I am nearly 30 I STILL get those moments of shame – “you don’t look old enough to have a baby” has gradually become “you don’t look old enough to have a child at school” to “you don’t look old enough to have an 11 year old” and will soon be “you don’t look old enough to have a teenager.”

    I’ve struggled to be proud in the face of others, and always disclose my mother status almost with an apology. And yet having my son was probably the best thing that ever happened to me and has shaped my life to be what it is today…it isn’t right that society and stupid campaigns that use shame rather than information as a deterrent should make women like us feel this way.

    Keep being proud, and keep sharing your message.

    1. Thank you! It’s a shame that people really feed into this “too young to have children” idea so much. You can be a good or bad parent at any age, who decides when the time is right? I have friends in their twenties who get dirty looks for being pregnant!

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