Her wrinkled eyes bored into my soul as I filled out the papers. I could tell the minute she called me back from the waiting room she had sized me up and had decided we wouldn’t be friends.
My husband and I had just graduated and moved from our college town where being married young and having children in your early twenties was totally normal. Here everything was different. I could tell by the looks I got in the grocery store. Of course it didn’t help that my husband often would get comments that he looked 14 while I, six months pregnant with our first baby, stood out like a sore thumb.
“I have a niece like you. Got married when she was young too. Some military kid or something.” The nurse mumbled something inaudible, but I thought I could make out something like, “Stupid girl.” Then, without a goodbye or “have a nice day” she left. “Wow, that was awkward!” I thought to myself. I pulled out my book and waited for the doctor. Hopefully she would be a bit more pleasant.
“New patient?” A muffled voice came through the door. “Yeah. You know, just another typical 21-year-old blonde.” The nurse’s voice was saturated with disgust. My head shot up from my book. “Wait, is she talking about me? I’m 22, not 21. No, It’s me. They’re right outside my door.” I didn’t have time to think before the knob turned and in walked the doctor. through the cracked door I saw the nurse scuffle off down the hall. In that split second I’d decided to pretend I didn’t hear. What would I even say to something like that?
I’d never felt so typical in my life as I did that summer waiting for our little boy to arrive. “How old are you?” Fellow grocery shoppers would occasionally ask, eyeing my left hand for that ring. Even well-meaning new friends would fish for answers. “So…when did you get married? And…when’s the baby due?” I could see the numbers flying around in their heads as they performed calculations. Sometimes I just wanted to look them in the eye and say, “YES!!! We were MARRIED!” I was a young, typical blonde, not a clue what she was doing, toying with adulthood. The nurse that day in the doctor’s office had secretly whisked away any confidence I had in my soon-to-be parenting.
Our little boy was born in that same hospital a few months later. As I held him in my arms, I knew nothing about that night was typical. He was perfect. A little miracle. It didn’t matter that 15 other women in that building had just done the same thing and brought their own little miracle into the world. None of us were typical, each experiencing a new phase of life, new challenges, all uniquely ours.
As mothers sometimes we feel “typical.” Like others are out shattering the would with their talents and abilities while we’re home nursing a needy baby. Our contributions feel very small. I feel that way sometimes, but then I see other “typical” moms interact with their unique child, take care of them, and love them. No matter what age they happen to be, they are doing something so amazing, so wonderful, so innate, nothing about it is “typical.”To that little baby, their mother is their world, and aren’t those tiny human beings, our future, what matters? Mothers are shattering the world, just in the shadows. Their contribution is monumental. Raising a child is an adventure unlike any other, and no one’s adventure is the same.
Should I have waited to get married? To have children? Some I’m sure would scream YES! That nurse was anything but subtle in trying to convey that message to me, that young, immature mother. But 22 or 42, It shouldn’t matter what the casual observer thinks. For me it has been wonderful, amazing, incredible, miraculous, and fulfilling. I’m thankful every day that life took us down this path. Motherhood is not typical, it is unique to you, and our contributions are greater than we can ever imagine.