I often think back to myself at 19…scared, pregnant, and alone. How beautifully unaware I was, attempting to make sense of the complicated situation I was facing. I look back at the challenges I have faced parenting young and have no idea how the hell I made it through. I had no idea how to change a diaper, care for a colicy newborn, or how to deal with a temper tantrum in CVS with a newborn who throws herself on the ground while screaming at the top of her lungs. Am I the only one?
For a long time I was suffocating parenting young, letting the pressures and stress of raising a young child consume my spirit. I was trying so hard to fit myself and my situation in those that I would see, but it seemed the harder I tried the more I failed. It was so easy for me to identify my faults and imperfections than to embrace my individuality and strength in being a parent. I wasn’t good enough is what I told myself. And it was as if society was silently telling me this as well. That I would never fully bloom being a young parent. For a long time I felt like the world was against me. But I pressed on. In my head I had no other choice.
Fast forward to almost seven years later and I am here writing this post as my six year old daughter is snorely awfully loud next to me. Is life perfect? I threw out the idea of perfection a long time ago. Look at my daughter’s smile, listen to her laugh, watch her dance. She is everything I never knew I could help create. I can look back at my struggles working fulltime, being a single mom, and being a fulltime student, commuting with a two year old back and forth for an hour and a half every morning and evening for over six months. Walking home from a snowstorm holding a sleeping toddler. Head slung low as I walked into a food pantry because I couldn’t afford enough food for myself and my child. What I have gone through, the tears, the struggle, the doubt has all made me a better woman and mother.
While parenting young has presented its fair share of challenges, those aren’t what I dwell on. I focus on all the happiness and joy having a child young has provided me. I focus on the day in swimming class she is able to swim under water on her own. I focus on her in her winter play singing all the words to her classes song in Spanish. I focus on her reading a book all by herself. These memories, these memories are what parenting is all about for me. Every day I make a decision on how I want to parent my daughter. And every day I wake up wanting and willing to be the best Mother I can be, and my age has nothing to do with the love I have for my daughter.