I Had Kids When I Was Young, And I'm Done With The Judgment

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
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Like most, my teenage years were a period consumed with wild-rebellion. So when I was pregnant with twins at 20 years old, not long after my days of partying and staying up all night had ended, I could feel others’ cautious and timid excitement when greeted with my pregnancy’s announcement.

But I never expected for someone to believe I wasn’t up for the task, or that another might reach out with a desire to adopt my very wanted babies. Still, it happened.

My mom was at a local church when a nosy-body in our community remarked to her, “You tell Caila that if she wants to choose adoption, the church has some great families who would take them in a second.”

When it comes to adoption, I stand in awe at the pure and selfless love from both families involved. It’s truly beautiful. But it wasn’t the right choice for us, and this assumption made me feel like others thought I was unfit to raise my own children.

Looking back today, I could say that it felt and still feels victorious to have risen above what others may have anticipated. But that would be a bold-faced lie. Because I shouldn’t have been made to feel like I needed to prove my worth in motherhood for another’s satisfaction.

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My age does not define who I am — who anyone is — as a mother.

I had kids while I was young, poor and happy. And guess what? I wouldn’t change any of it for a millisecond.

My journey may look different, some might even say backwards from others, but that will never make our predicament or our family’s outcome wrong.

Financially speaking, we don’t live in our “forever home” just yet. There are no luxurious, yearly getaways for the time being. And we don’t drive a shiny SUV.

In fact, we live in a humble abode across the street from a bar which sounds of drunken karaoke every Saturday night, so loud that it shakes the walls of our entire home. We have never planned a family vacation, much less been on a family vacation. And we still owe a few more payments on our “new-to-us” vehicles.

Our bills are paid on time, and, most importantly, our kids are fed, clothed (excluding the nudist), loved and happy. But it takes time to establish your family financially in the way you’ve always dreamed of doing. Time I didn’t have before parenthood like others. But that doesn’t make me any less of a parent.

As much as I loathe my family’s money struggles, there’s also another part of me that’s somewhat thankful. My hope is that my kids always remember where they came from, these days that haven’t always been so easy. May they never believe they are higher and mightier than another human being while unknowingly stooping to the lowest of lows themselves.

Although we may not possess all-of-the-things and we do not “have it all,” we are grateful for what we do have.

Because I had kids young and poor, my family feels rich non-materialistically.

In so many ways, I am just like every other mother who chose to have children in her late-20s or 30s and 40s. My alarm clock was traded in for tiny humans who wake me before the butt crack of dawn requesting “coco” (cereal) on repeat. Our family vehicle looks like a toy store and a garbage can puked all over it. And right now, I’m still wearing what I threw on two days ago.

I am what today’s society calls a “young” mom. But more than that, I am a damn good one too.

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My life was and will forever be altered because of my children. I’m not the same wild and carefree person I once was. And even though I had kids younger than most, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on a thing.

I didn’t need to “venture out into the world” before settling down in the everyday moments of parenthood. And I don’t feel like I’ve been “robbed” of my 20s due to the consuming and pressing needs of four little people. My love is fiercely rooted, and it wasn’t a grievance for me to mature into the mother my kids deserve.

I had kids young and poor, and now, God willing, my hope is that we get more time together. More time to travel the world with each other when the setting and finances are right. More memories to cherish, and way more birthday candles to blow out throughout the years.

But while we are building those memories, let it be known that I’m not immune or more susceptible to the mundane triumphs and failures of motherhood as a direct effect of my family’s early expansion. My kids positively melt me, drain me, and strain me in every imaginable way possible.

To put it plainly, I’m a mother just like you. And I’m ready to be seen for the mother I am instead of how old of a mother I am.

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