When I was 15 years old, I was so excited that now I could finally get myself a part-time job. Living in an isolated town with so many young families. There were just too many teenagers looking for work and not enough jobs for everyone. The shop keepers only hired those girls who were tall and looked a bit older for their age. In comparison, I was shorter and looked so much younger, as a result I became dissatisfied with myself.
When I was 19, married and pregnant, l felt judged by the looks that people walking past me in the street, I felt that I must have looked too young to be pregnant. I really believed that as I got older this judgment would pass.
At 23, with two children 3 years apart, people would ask me if the kids belonged to the same father! So many people at this time were opting to have their careers before having children so there were not many young parents around.
Well I did get older and I did age, but so did my kids. The older I got, the older they got, and the more surprised people were. For how could I possibly be only 32 with my oldest child already in high school, when the other parents were already in their forties and fifities!
Later, while in my mid-thirties, my younger sons were born, and I finally felt l looked old enough to have these babies. A few years later at the park where my boys were playing, I would meet new mums with their kids, some already having a child in the teenage years. I wouldn’t mention my older kids, and as mums do, they would share their advice of what to expect as these boys got older. I didn’t tell them I had older kids, I didn’t want to see the shocked look on their faces when they heard that my oldest was already over 21 years old.
As many parents find out, having babies and getting through their first few years is challenging, and raising teenagers can be an extremely turbulent time. Well, we found ourselves doing both at the very same time!
Now I was loving my teenagers and toddlers as well as finding time for the day to day needs. What I found was, I needed to be creative to find moments for them to bond, and to encourage the love they have for each other to deepen. It certainly was an era where I really needed to put into practice all that I had learnt about getting back to calm quickly!
Today, my older three children have left the nest, while l enjoy the younger two at home with me, and am now anticipating their teenage years. Going through these early years a second time, l had already found what our strengths and weaknesses were, and l felt now that I knew what to expect. We were able to put things in place which prevented many challenging situations that we had previously experienced and having already faced the teenage years already, I am feeling so much more confident for when my younger ones get there, knowing the knowledge l have will get me through the next 10 years smoothly.
With having had five children I sometimes feel much older than my age. So now when people exclaim how I don’t look old enough to have children the ages of my older kids, I smile and treasure their words and I now receive them as complements rather than judgments!