Motherhood: Anything But Typical, No Matter What the World Says

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.

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“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.

Copy of HPIM0797As 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.

12-01-2008 04110-4-2008 043Should 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.

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Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Motherhood: Anything But Typical, No Matter What the World Says

  1. Oh my goodness! My heart ached for you as you told of your experience at the doctor!! Oh my, can I relate. I turned 21 just about 2 weeks or so before my son was born. I felt like a little girl trying to figure it all out. But you are so right. Nothing about motherhood is typical. Each experience is unique. I loved what you said: “Motherhood is shattering the world, just in the shadows.” Love that! Great piece! 🙂

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    • My grandma had three kids when she was the age of us having our first! Times have definitely changed. I completely agree about feeling like a little girl! I was terrified when we found out we were going to have a baby, but he has been such a blessing to us, to our marriage, to every part of life. I would never go back and do it differently! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in those feelings, especially to know that great moms like you also have been here too. 🙂

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  2. Boy, I never thought I’d share this story with anyone, but I will tell you. I had a baby at 20. I got married at 18. It took us 2 years to have this child and he was very much loved even before he was conceived. Anyway, at a few months old, he developed some weird illness I can’t even remember now. A passing thing, but as a new mother, I was nervous and took him in. While we were there, the doctor came in and began to get a little background, etc. He looked right at me and said, “I take it this was an unplanned pregnancy?” I couldn’t believe it. I totally went off on him, picked up my son, and walked straight out of there. I have never been so embarrassed, humiliated, aghast, or ANGRY in my life. It is astounding the things people can say without remorse or any hint of contriteness. So there, you’ve heard one of my dark moments and you also know now you aren’t alone in your feelings/experience.

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    • Oh, Torrie, thank you for sharing your experience! I’m so sad that happened to you. It really is shocking sometimes to hear the words people say without any sort of remorse. Making assumptions is so easy, but often so detrimental to relationships and the feelings of those the assumptions are about. Reading your post last night about going on a bike ride with your son made me hope that I can be that mom, who’s sons still will do things like that with their mom. I think that says volumes about your parenting and relationship with him (even if he did ride ahead and couldn’t hear nature’s lessons along the way! 🙂 ). You are an awesome mom, no matter what that doctor assumed with your first son those years ago!

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  3. I find the word “typical,” when used to describe people, a label. And in your case/experience, a less than complimentary label. People in all walks of life feel the need to label and judge people. They just do. And it’s unfortunate. Whenever I read or hear stories as yours, I automatically (and in my heart. rightfully) invoke the belief that whatever people choose to say, especially when it’s a slight, is all about them, their shortcomings, their narrow-mindedness. And it is!

    You seem to have moved on from these (though not at the time) petty experiences/exchanges. You have a beautiful family and a grounded head on your shoulders. 🙂 Stand tall as you grow and move onward!

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    • Thank you so much for your kind comments! That experience taught me a great deal about labeling and making assumptions. It took a while to overcome those insecurities, and I would hate to ever be the cause of someone else having those feelings. When it happened I tried to remind myself that maybe she was going through something difficult I couldn’t see, and was feeling as vulnerable as I did. Her story was as much a mystery to me as mine was o her. Kind of like your last post about the man feeding the seagulls. 🙂

      I so appreciate your words of encouragement. Thank you!

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  4. Oh my gosh how I resonate with this post! I was barely 21 when my husband and I got married and 22 when we had our daughter. “YES WE WERE MARRIED” Oh man. I had a cashier ask me if I went to the High School *rolls eyes.* Thank you for making this post. I’m so glad to have connected with you. You are awesome. 🙂

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    • I’m so glad you can relate! That’s exactly the age my husband and I were when we got married and then had our first baby. Oh, and the high school comments…ugh! Do you get asked if you’re the nanny, too? I’m always getting asked if I’m my boys’ nanny. I’m so glad to have connected, too! I love your blog!

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      • I’ve never been asked if I was the nanny.. I think nanny’s aren’t very common around here. But I have wondered if others have thought that by the way they ask if she’s mine 🙂 HA! I’m just so thrilled to have children young and feel bad for the mom’s who have to stay up at all hours with their newborns later in life. How in the world would I survive?! I hardly have the energy now 🙂

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  5. Beautifully said yet again Chelsi. 🙂 I am so excited about your upcoming publication! Fantastic!! Your words brought back a hard comment from my Doctor (whose name happened to be the same as my husband’s name!) as he was releasing me and my first baby to go home. I was 20 years and 11 days old when my first son was born. His comment to me was ” now don’t have another baby right away. I was shocked at what he said and the way he said it when I was so happy holding my son and taking him home that day. I snapped back and said something like “look who’s talking, you whose wife will soon be here having her eighth baby all very close together!” Nothing more was said from either of us. 🙂

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