I Was A Teen Mom & I Wouldn’t Change Anything About My Past

So there I was, a fresh faced 18-year-old giving birth to my first child. Not yet knowing much about life, I was already giving life to another. I couldn’t have known it then, but this scary event turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here are 10 reasons becoming a young mom changed me for the better:

  1. I was forced to grow the hell up. Nothing says “get your head out of your ass” quite like becoming a mother. You pretty much can’t be a parent and selfish at the same time. While it doesn’t exactly sound fun, trading partying for rocking a baby to sleep provides something so intrinsically rewarding that you don’t even think about what you could be missing out on.
  2. I’m a kid at heart. Being a parent paradoxically keeps you young, especially when you’re just as ready to smash down the stack of blocks as your child. Because of my younger age, my kids have always found me easy to relate to, and that translates to a lot of playtime. I’ll never know what it’s like to hunker down on the floor with to play with my kids only to find that I can’t get up because of back pain or other age-related ailments.
  3. I had nothing to compare my life to. Having a child so early in life afforded me a luxury that most parents don’t get: I’ve never known adulthood without also being a parent. This made the transition from singlehood to parent all the easier. I hadn’t yet found a lifestyle that I was accustomed or attached to that would make it harder to become a mother.
  4. I’ve never heard the ticking of a biological clock. So many of my friends feel the pressure to settle down and have kids, and I’m over here getting ready to take my kids on college scouting trips. No one bugs me about having another baby or reminds me I’m nearing the dawning of the non-child bearing days.
  5. I learned to take care of me. Before kids, I ate like crap, drank too much and pretty much thought I would live forever. Knowing that another life was now dependent on me caused me to make some big lifestyle changes. I wanted to be my healthiest for them, so I started taking better care of me by getting more sleep, exercising and thinking more about my future.
  6. I’ve had more time to spend with my kids. Becoming a parent earlier in life has afforded me the opportunity to spend more of my younger, playful years with my kids. I couldn’t imagine wasting my 20s partying then having to get serious and be a parent. The memories we’ve made and the experiences we’ve shared trump any kind of 20s free-spirited adventure stories.
  7. I’ll have an empty nest sooner. My children will be in college well before I turn 40. While a lot of my friends are chasing toddlers around or dealing with kindergarten homework, I’ll be traveling the world, pursuing my hobbies, and cherishing the independence I haven’t had since becoming a parent. All of the time I’ve spent dedicating my life to them will be rewarded to me while I’m still young and able to enjoy more independent activities.
  8. I’ll always be the cool mom (and grandmother). My age will allow me to better enjoy and have fun with my eventual grandkids, if that happens. You know, there are parents and then there are the cool parents. I can proudly hold this title because I’m like a zillion years younger (and, uh, cooler?) than my fellow ‘rents. The benefit of this: my daughter’s teenage friends feel safe talking to me about sex, drugs, and all those messy high school debacles, and I love being the one that they trust, simply because I’m young and relatable.
  9. I learned important lessons sooner. The exponential growth that comes from being a parent can’t be faked by reading self-help books or going on meditation retreats. By having a child so early in life, I was taught important lessons on sacrifice, grace and patience a lot earlier in life than most people. These lessons have instilled in me a greater compassion, empathy and patience in all areas of my life that would have taken years to cultivate if I didn’t have children.
  10.  I turned a possible catastrophe into an opportunity. A lot of people told me not to go through with it, that it would be hard, and that I wasn’t ready to be a parent. If I hadn’t made this decision to be a mother, I would never have experienced the absolute joy of parenthood and shortchanged myself of my life’s greatest blessing.
Lauren is a freelance writer living in New Jersey. When she's not deeply immersed in pondering the cosmos, you'll find her hiking a mountain, reading something philosophical, or dancing in her underwear. Read more of her existential musings at www.laurenvenn.com