Since sharing her story of her “two tiny blue lines,” Katie has also welcomed a beautiful little girl into their family. Follow Katie, a millennial mama of three, on Facebook.
It all began when I peed on a stick. In less than a minute, the word “pregnant” flashed up on the little window, and my heart sank in disbelief. I immediately threw on clothes, grabbed an umbrella and dashed out into the pouring Seattle rain to the drugstore to buy several more tests. One by one, they all said the same thing. One thought alone was running through my brain: This. Can’t. Be. Happening.
I had barely graduated from college with a BA in journalism, and was working a contract job. I lived with 2 roommates, in a 3 bedroom apartment by my old college campus. I still brought laundry home to my parents on weekends. My relationship with the father of my unborn child had been casual and short-lived. I also had been taking birth control pills at the time – this definitely wasn’t supposed to be happening. Shortly after I revealed I was pregnant, he announced he had no interest in being a father, and would absolutely not stick around for the pregnancy. He stayed true to his word. I fled my apartment and moved back home to my parents’ house, ashamed and heartbroken, not only for myself, but for the life I was carrying inside of me. They were initially very disappointed in me, but as my due date approached, they began to warm up to the notion of being grandparents. When my son, Jonah Francis, arrived at 6:30am on November 5th, 2010, they were ecstatic to meet their first grandchild. It was at this time I knew my life was irrevocably changed. It was as though my old self had died, and a new identity was born – as a mother.
Fortunately, my story had a happy ending. When Jonah was just months old, I met the man who would become my husband, Anthony. We both knew by the end of the first date that we had found the “one”, corny as it sounds. It truly felt like a sign from God – I’d never been so sure of anything else in my life, other than my conviction to keep my child. Anthony later told me he fell in love with Jonah at the same time as falling in love with me, and that he felt like he was meant to be his dad. The day before New Year’s Eve 2011, we were married in the church where I had been confirmed, with 13 month old Jonah in the cutest little suit. 9 months later, our son Rory was born. And last week, my husband’s adoption of Jonah was legally finalized in court.
Today, Jonah is 2.5, and Rory is almost 10 months old. My life for the past few years has been centered on motherhood, naturally. Having been a stay at home mom since Jonah’s birth, my career has essentially been on pause. However, one unique challenge of young motherhood is that our careers often get paused, or sidetracked, when they’ve hardly begun. It’s difficult not to feel somewhat self-conscious about this when we are bombarded by cultural messages that we must not start a family before we’ve reached certain career goals, have a certain amount of money in the bank, are homeowners, etc. Similarly, depending on where we live, often our friends are often delaying marriage and focusing on achieving professional success, without families of their own. It’s hard to not feel isolated – I certainly did. As my friends celebrated promotions with nights on the town, took trips to Vegas, and bought fashionable new wardrobes, I was in the throes of colic, teething, and dirty diapers. We were on different wavelengths.
We live in a society that places intense pressure and high expectations on motherhood. Perhaps it’s a problem of the digital era we live in – it’s easy to feel anxious when people on the internet are passing judgment left and right (“oh, you work? You’re at home? You’re not breastfeeding? You breastfed for HOW long? You let your kid cry it out? etc. etc. etc.) Whereas our mothers and grandmothers perhaps read one parenting book and talked about the stresses of mothering amongst their friends and family, moms today have the entire internet to answer to – and the anxiety it invokes is beyond intense. Young moms often feel as though they have more to prove, and I was no exception to this. In an effort to ensure I wasn’t stereotyped as a typical young mom, I went above and beyond to make sure I did everything “right”.
One thing I have recently realized is that as I got caught up in being the “perfect’ mom, I completely lost sight of my own personal identity. I didn’t exactly have years and years to craft it either, given my early entrance into motherhood. I was utterly unsure of who I was or what I wanted to be, besides a mother. I also realized this was making me miserable. While I’m a mother, I’m also a wife, a friend, and I want to be a professional. I’m a woman in my own right, with hopes, dreams, and goals. I realized I needed to take some steps to rediscover who I truly was, aside from motherhood. I recently decided to go back to school to become a labor and delivery nurse. Giving birth to my sons at an excellent hospital with outstanding nurses, and a desire to help other mamas and babies get the best possible start, has inspired me to follow that career path myself. Having majored in journalism and missing writing terribly, I’m going to start blogging again. I’m joining my local Junior League chapter next year, which will give me an opportunity to serve my community.
These are all steps I’m taking in an effort to “find myself” again, and cultivate an identity outside of being a mom. Because let’s face it, our status as mommy, while extremely important, is just one facet of us as a young woman. We also deserve to derive satisfaction from our lives professionally (if we desire) and personally, and it is especially important for younger mamas, as we are still growing up in a sense, alongside our children. I believe it is healthy for our kids to see us working towards our goals and as we achieve our dreams, we can all celebrate together. It won’t be easy, but I absolutely believe it will be worth it.