I’m in my 20s, I’m not a mum, and I’m fine with that. Kids are great, but I’ve never felt any longing for motherhood. However, as I edge closer to the big 3-0, more and more of my 20-something-year-old friends are having babies…
To me, raising children at my age seems impossible, but my ever increasing friendship contingent of young mums continues to counter that assumption. Previous generations of mothers did not work when they had children. However, the current generation of yummy mummies is almost expected to forge a career; 9 to 5 at the office, then 6 to God knows when at home. How do these women function?! What sacrifices do they make for the tiny people they have created, and are they happy to make them? Is it as rewarding as those dishwashing detergent ads with babies in dressing gowns keep insinuating? I decided to ask my friend and spectacular Super-Mum, Lisa*, her opinion.
RELATED: Is There A Perfect Time To Start A Family?
Lisa was married at 23, and had her first child when she was 24. He is now 5, and her other little boy is three. On top of that, she is an extremely successful teacher, AND somehow manages to make time for hobbies such as community theatre (she’s a fabulous singer). Her journey is a fascinating one.
Did you encounter opposition from friends/family about your decision to have children in your 20s?
I absolutely encountered opposition…many friends discouraged the idea as they believed that I should engage in more travel, socialising and getting my career on track before having children. Whilst my husband’s family were supportive (most of them were married young and were young mothers), my family were disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to ‘explore the world’.
You are balancing a career and raising two children. Do you ever feel like one is taking up more energy than the other? How do you juggle this?
This question is the absolute crux of my existence. The juggle between my career as a teacher and raising my children is a juggle that I never feel I am able to balance. Teaching is a profession that not only requires countless hours of work outside of ‘office hours’, it is also a career that consumes your mind. Not only do I spend my time thinking about my own children; my mind is consumed by the 30 children that have their education in my hands. Some days, I feel as though I don’t handle the juggle at all…I wish I was able to provide an exact answer.
Do you find that having hobbies keeps you level-headed, or is it an added pressure?
Singing, and community theatre, is the one thing that allows me to take a breath, unwind and escape from reality. It gives me time to socialise, have an outlet for my creativity, and it is something I thoroughly enjoy. But, with every positive, there is always a downside. And the downside to participating in something like community theatre is the commitment and time that it requires…it can add to the stress levels that I already experience and physically, can be quite draining as it can mean I am sometimes required to get through 18 hour days. And it means less time spent with my children.
Would you recommend having children in your 20s? Do you think it depends on the person?
I do think it depends on the person, their life experiences, and also what their future goals are. But, if I could give my 20-year-old old self advice? I would ABSOLUTELY say that it is better to wait. Your 20’s should be a time to explore, have fun, find out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Find what makes you happy. Fall in love. I thought I knew so much about life when I was in my early 20’s. I couldn’t wait to be a mother. I couldn’t wait to nurture and care for a child. But, nobody could ever prepare you for how mentally and physically exhausting it can be. And how much your life changes.
Your life and the decisions you make have to always take into consideration the little humans that you have brought into the world. And I think that if you spend your 20’s finding out who you are and what you want and your place in the world, then you can enter motherhood when you’re that little bit older, and wiser. Motherhood is a tough gig, no matter what age you are. Whilst it is a beautiful gift, and brings so much joy and so many wonderful moments… it is also a terribly stressful, frantic, emotional and LIFELONG journey that you are led on.
Do you sometimes want a break from work? Why or why not?
This is a tricky question. I really think my answer could change depending on the day that I have had! I have had days that I have cried and prayed to just leave work and spend quality time with my children. They aren’t children forever. But, give me a few days at home, and I will beg to get back into work! I think working full time is very hard. In a perfect world, I would love to have a day or two off so I could feel more balanced. But would I leave work completely? No.
I was raised by an extremely educated and career driven woman. My mother was a single mother, who worked full time, raised two children and became a well-respected principal for many years. She instilled in me the passion to always seek knowledge, to always work to my absolute best and to get a career that was fulfilling and rewarding. I have never wanted to be a ‘stay at home’ mum. Whilst I see nothing wrong with it, and at times envy those who choose to do so, that kind of motherhood is not for me.
*Name has been changed.
Image via Localgiving.com