There might not be a universal “best” age to have a baby, but as an unmarried pregnant woman with a freshly printed college degree and no job, I was pretty sure that 22 was not the best age for me.
With a little help from my surrounding culture, I was convinced that I’d never be successful, never have money, and never have a long-lasting relationship with my then-boyfriend (now-husband). Everything I ever envisioned for myself was quietly fading, leaving me alone, scared, with absolutely no certainty in life.
Except for the fact that I had a child growing in my body.
Yet now, looking back, I realize how perfect that timing really was. It taught me more about myself, about life, than I ever thought I needed to know — and it also made me realize that becoming a mother at any age comes with positive perks.
Here are 10 reasons I love being a younger mom:
1. Less Lifestyle Adjustment
I wasn’t used to a certain amount of discretionary income, or spur-of-the-moment vacations, or any resemblance of “me” time. I went from being a broke college student to a broke unpaid intern to a pregnant entry-level employee — so there was no set routine or established expectations. I became a mother, a wife, and an adult in one breath — and although that certainly comes with its challenges, at least I didn’t have to switch gears or downshift in any way.
It’s all progress from here.
This is probably the most talked-about perk as of right now, with experts and news outlets debating the biological realities of our fertility. The struggle of infertility is very real for many women today — which, by the way, includes secondary infertility. I’m so lucky to not have a biological clock ticking in my ear, dictating the size of my family. With fertility comes less risks, less stress, and ultimately more babies.
We can always make more money, pursue new careers, and push forward with goals — but we can’t magically reverse our fertility.
3. Less Pressure
My 29-year-old friend recently confessed that she has all of the things she’s “supposed” to have — a prestigious education, high-powered career, plenty of traveling under her belt — but she’d trade it all in a heartbeat for a family. It’s so easy to be envious of other people’s perceived success, but I’m so thankful for that lack of pressure.
4. Early Empty Nest
I’ll be 40 when my son goes to college — which leaves plenty of life for tropical vacations and lazy Saturday mornings.
5. Grandchildren, Grandparents
Not only are my parents thankfully around to know and love my son, but hopefully I’ll be around to know and love my grandkids.
6. My Body
Besides the fact that pregnancy and labor were fairly easy on my body (a 22 year old is biologically and physically in her prime), I’m most thankful for the new relationship I have with my body. I spent years struggling, battling, my body with unhealthy eating and unhealthy emotions, but it took pregnancy and labor to finally understand and respect my body. For the first time that I could remember, I was finally in tune with myself — and that was a life-changing shift.
I’m so thankful to have had that experience sooner rather than later.
7. Having a Purpose
I often think, “Would I have been this grown up, had I not had a reason to grow up?” I know that the 20-something years are for “finding yourself,” but nothing will give you more insight into yourself than the mirror that children hold up.
8. My Career Path
Now this is a bit at odds with the common way of thinking, but some career experts are starting to rethink the “having it all” mentality — realizing that maybe it can be smart to have children in the beginning of your career, rather than halt the progress half-way through.
Not to mention that motherhood can often cause a shift in our priorities and a desire to do something more — something different — than we ever thought to do. Why not get that done in the beginning of your career?
9. More Energy
We’re a silly, silly family — which means dance parties, firefly catching, running through playgrounds. I’m sure there are plenty of 40-somethings with youthful energy, but it’s a pretty common complaint. ”You’re lucky to have so much energy,” they tell me. And I know it’s true.
10. More Time
All things being equal, having a baby at 22 rather than 32 means that I have 10 more years of being a mom. An extra decade of love and growth — an extra decade of togetherness. And I can tell you without hesitation that, at the end of my life, I won’t be yearning for more traveling or more money. I’ll simply want more time, and be grateful for the amount I had.