The saying is that "age is nothing but a number" when it comes to romantic relationships. Somehow, this saying never holds true when it comes to a different kind of relationship: the one between a parent and a child.
I have no issues putting my age out there for everyone to analyze. I am 25 years old. My husband is 33. When we tell people we can't have children, almost everyone has the same reaction:
But you're so young!
Go enjoy life!
You have plenty of time!
Why is it that people, when they learn our ages, automatically think we should wait to be parents? I know: this isn't a new debate. In fact, many of you who are reading this probably have strong opinions on when a person is ready to be a parent. I have these same opinions. But my concern is that we pin too much of that opinion on a number and not other factors. My greater concern is that we don't realize that there are people within our own community, like me, who are young and who are hurt by the judgment and generalization about young women and motherhood.
So, I decided to write an open letter about my feelings on the topic. Love it or hate it, I'm annoyed and this is what I have to say:
Thank you for weighing in on my mothering capabilities. First, yes: I am young. But I am an adult. I've graduated from college once, and I will do it again in about a year and four months. I'm happily married to a man that I've known for almost 10 years. I realize that turning 18 and becoming an adult may not make someone capable of being a mom. I know I never could have properly cared for another person at age 18. I know that other people may not be ready for motherhood at age 25. But it's wrong to assume that I haven't lived or experienced enough to be a good mom.
I have enjoyed life. I spent a majority of my college years drinking heavily in bars with friends. I still go out with my friends now, even while we wait to adopt. But what makes you think I wouldn't enjoy life as a mom? What makes you think that having children is so un-enjoyable? Better yet, what makes you think I should party like it's 1999 until I'm 30 years old and my liver is dying? I get it. I'm in my 20s, and that somehow equates to me having the time of my life. I am having the time of my life - as a wife. I've lived through the "taking shots until I pass out and vomit" stage of my life. It's time to move on.
Speaking of time: while it appears I may have plenty of time left in front of me to have children, I don't. I certainly have zero time to produce biological children. My lady parts are failing, and they have been for a while now - longer than I've known there were issues. So why are we choosing to adopt now rather than adopt later? I lost my grandmother when I was in 8th grade. It was devastating. She was so young, and she missed so much of our lives. My mom has already beaten cancer once. My greatest fear is that some day it will return and she will miss my child's milestones because of it. Joey has his own reasons that are family related.
But neither of us are doing this for our families. We are doing it for ourselves. I've always wanted to be a mom young. Always. And whether it happens now or five years from now, I'll be ready. My husband is beyond ready. It hurts me to think that people question what kind of mother I'll be at my age, when there are women in their 30s who have never once held a baby until they've given birth. It's infuriating that people have this preset notion of what I should be doing with my life at my age.
The bottom line is you are not me. My birth certificate may say I'm young, but it doesn't have a place for a stamp of motherhood approval. Every day that I get older and I still don't have a baby, a part of me dies inside. While I'm grateful for the experiences our journey with infertility has given me, I would trade in these experiences in a second for a chance to hold my baby. I would trade in every night of drinking in college and partying with friends. When it's all said and done and my life is coming to a close, I guarantee that none of the "fun" experiences of my teens and 20s will make the top ten list of best moments of my life. But I bet that there will be plenty of moments on that list, if not all of them, that involve being a parent.
So please, think before you speak or type. Think about the women who ARE young and who hurt because they can't be a mom or make their partner a parent. Think about the people who are mature enough to become parents but will never get that opportunity. And for those in this community, think about your infertile sisters - the women who are going through the exact same thing you are. Don't look at their age. Look at their experience: what they are going through, what they have been through, and their support for you. We are too close, too special to divide ourselves with meaningless numbers.