Before my 25th birthday I was the mother of three kids, including a set of twins. My life is on a very different path from the majority of my friends that I hung out with in high school; at my age (I’m 26 now) some are starting to get married, several are working on advanced degrees, and a few are looking for that awesome job. Even a couple have bought their first homes. I, on the other-hand, am supporting my husband (of nearly six years) as he pursues his advanced degrees, spend my days chasing after my children, and am still living in apartments. My life is so far removed from theirs. But, I don’t for a minute regret being a young mom. How grateful I am for MassMutual and MassiveSway for sponsoring this discussion on how love is a gift.
So, let’s go ahead and address some common questions and concerns people usually have about those who are young moms or who are thinking about becoming a young mom themselves.
But what about a career? About more education?
My career path is different than I ever expected it to be. I majored in Visual Arts and minored in music at BYU; a pretty useless degree, I’ll be the first to admit. I have sold some artwork since graduation, but I almost never do art, unless you count drawing a few pictures for my kids or coloring in a coloring book with them. And although I (too frequently) blame not doing art on them, the truth of the matter is, I wouldn’t do it without them anyway.
During college when I was having a very hard time choosing a major, I felt strongly that I could major in whatever I wanted to in college, and I chose art, because I love it and I’m good at it, but not necessarily because I wanted to be an artist. I actually wanted to be an art teacher, but switched to a simple Bachelor’s of Art degree in order for me to graduate when I did. The plan was to earn the BA in art, and then get certified as a teacher later, after the kids were older, and avoid having to keep up with certifications until I was ready and/or able to work part-time or full-time outside the home.
And it’s interesting to me now to see where my career path has taken me: currently I am a self-employed blogger, writer, social media manager, photographer (though not a great one), and photo editor, who knows some about about building websites. And maybe that’s why ultimately it didn’t matter what I majored in, because my life would lead me to this career path regardless of my major, and is a career I had never foreseen as a possibility (I mean, bloggers can actually make money?!), even though my husband and I had started this blog pre-kids! Neither of us had ever thought our little family update blog “What’s up Fagans?” would be a source of income for us years down the road. But now it is. And while I’m certainly not making oodles of money, I am making a good part-time income, which is a huge blessing to us.
God knows better than we ever do about where our life will take us. I am very thankful I listened to both his promptings to choose whatever major I wanted, and the prompting to turn this blog into a business. God is so smart and so good!
But what about traveling?
I have always wanted to go to Europe and see all those awesome, classical, beautiful works of art I have studied for years, for myself. And I have always wanted to explore several awesome parts of my vast country, the United States of America.
I have a love of traveling I know came from my father taking me on cross-country road trips in his semi-truck as a young girl. I have traveled to Toronto, Canada, Washington DC, and New York City as a Senior in high school. I spent time in South Carolina with my brother, and time in Omaha, Nebraska with a different brother. As a family we took several road trips out to Utah for family reunions. During college I got to go to Las Vegas on numerous occasions and to Los Angelos as well. I also took a road trip up to Seattle with some friends.
In many ways, I have already done a lot of traveling. And I get to continue to travel as I move around the country with my husband and children. Plus, we get to take family trips together to the beach, or to visit grandparents or other family members (and my family is spread around the country). While I don’t think a trip to Europe is in our future, we do have plans of exploring more of our new home state here in Texas, maybe going to the Gulf of Mexico for the first time, or perhaps even Mexico. The great thing about traveling as a family is that it will be with the ones I love the very most and will become awesome memories to share with them, and not just have for myself, or with friends I may lose contact with over the years: I’ll be making these memories with my family who will always be with me.
But what about your independence? Your freedom?
The 20’s are often dubbed the time to really get to know yourself, to explore, to have fun, to be free! Why settle down with a husband and a family while in your early 20’s? It’s time to be selfish, not selfless! And marriage and motherhood are both selfless choices.
Yes, you are right. I’m not untethered or unattached now that I am part of my own family unit. I have to answer to my spouse and to my children before I decide any major life choices, and even perhaps some small choices. I can’t just move on a whim, or take care of my needs 100% of the day. I have to think about what my family’s needs are above my own.
But, the truth is I don’t think about my own needs much at all anymore. My needs are often the family’s needs. My desires are for their welfare. I don’t fantasize about things I could be doing if I didn’t have children. I don’t lust after time away from them. In short, I just don’t care about being independent! I am happy having people dependent on me. I like feeling needed and wanted. Sure, it’s tiring sometimes, but so is being alone and independent. And if I do need some time to myself or time away, I have an awesome, supportive husband, who happily lets me go for a run, or to go out and have a girls’ night.
But why when you’re young?
More people are having children later and later nowadays, so why didn’t I want to wait?
Here’s a fun fact about me: my husband is eight years older than me. I was 20 when we got married, but he was 28. We had our twins two months before he turned 30. For him, he’s pretty on par with the average age of getting married and having children. But, I was three months shy of turning 22 when I became a mother to not one, but two children. Two children before 22. I didn’t really see that one coming.
But, with almost a decade separating us in age, we need to consider how old we want my husband to be when we stop having children. And, yes, I know, that technically he can keep having children into his 70s, but that doesn’t mean he wants to! My parents were pretty old when they had me. My mother was 42, almost 43, when she gave birth to me, her last child. My dad was 37.
My husband and I have three children now, but want more. I have always wanted five children, but ultimately we will leave the decision up to God. But, seriously, wouldn’t it be great if I could be done having these five children by the time I am 30, and my husband nearing 40? I mean think about all the energy and good health I have now in my 20’s! Think about how much easier pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and life are with a young body? Or how much easier it is to run and play with my children. My kids are getting some of my best years too! And that’s pretty awesome.
But, there’s also the selfish reasoning that if I am done having children by the time I am 30, that means my kids could all be out of our home by the time I am 50! Then I would have some quality years left to be just with my husband, to do more traveling, to be more selfish and independent, to pursue a career or hobbies. At 50, I could very well still half a lifetime to live (all but one of my grandparents have lived into their 80s or 90s). I hope to still be in great health and still have that youthful spark, which will make traveling and adventures still very feasible and fun. Plus, as a young mom, it hopefully means I can be a young grandma and be an active and involved part of any grandchildren’s lives, and not be in ill-health instead. I think being a young mom has some serious perks!But what about finances?
Okay, you got me there. Finances are pretty rough for our family. Considering we got married while still in college, had twins immediately upon graduation, my husband was employed as a teacher, and has been pursuing advanced degrees, we have never had much money in the bank. However, we embrace it as much as we can. Simplicity, frugal living, and a return to minimalism are all in style now anyway, right?
Children are not something we view as a burden or a hardship, and believe that God will provide for following his command to multiply, as we trust in Him. Sure, having children while low-income is hard, but it’s doable. And the blessings of children far outweighs the blessings of monetary gain and financial security. Our needs are met. Our children are fed. And God does provide. Would we have more money and be comfortable if we had waited to have children? Absolutely. But, finances, I believe, should never be the main factor in deciding when or if to have children.
Because, here’s the truth: Love is a Gift! Motherhood is a gift! Not everyone gets to become a mother (or a father). Some choose not to accept the gift or refuse it all together. Some shun relationships, or don’t want to commit. But, choosing to take a leap of faith by loving someone, is that gift that can keep on giving.
Do you know how wonderful it is to be told that you are beautiful from a three year old? Do you know how awesome it is to be hugged and kissed 30 times in one day? Do you know how much of a gift it is to have people think you completely awesome, totally beautiful, and the best person ever? Because that is what children do. They love you unconditionally and think the world of you!
Having children has taught me how to love, how to care deeply, and inspired me to be a better person. Parenthood is the great refiner’s fire that is working hard to perfect me and mold me into the ultimate version of myself, because motherhood and marriage challenges me in ways that a career never, ever could. This gift of love challenges me to grow, adapt, give, expand, forgive, humble myself, and think more of things outside of myself.
Love in a marriage and in motherhood are a gift worth embracing and accepting no matter what it may seem you are sacrificing or giving up in order to do. Because when you embrace these gifts, you will be blessed with more love in return. The days may be long, but I absolutely believe it is worth it, and is worth it no matter what age you are blessed to be called “mother.”
MassMutual understands that love can be demonstrated in many different ways, and that one of those ways is by partnering with Easter Seals, a great charity that provides education, outreach, and advocacy for children and adults (and their caregivers) who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities, so they can live, learn, and work in our communities, and have access to information, specialists, financial strategies, and can improve their quality of life. They also work a lot with our veterans.
Tell me, who do you love? How have you chose to love?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the MassMutual.