Oct 24, 2014

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Being a Young-Looking Mother

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Tara Trinity

“Ay pobrecita, she’s so young to have a child!”  Those comments come on a daily basis, whether I’m sitting on Amtrak, waiting for the bus, or at the pediatrician’s office.  The stereotypes fly as soon as my son is in tow.  I’m automatically placed in the she-must-be-a-poor-single-Latina-mother category.  These thoughts are not just assumptions, as my friends and even my own mother agree they would think the same if I were a stranger.

It started during pregnancy when I noticed the puzzled looks of the other parents in the birthing classes.  I attended many classes alone, stuffing my face with free crackers and cookies at the back of the class because I was always so hungry.

When I told my sister of the looks she laughed saying people probably thought, “Poor girl must be starving!  They must have a new program allowing unwed teenage mothers to join the class.” It wasn’t until my own grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s asked my mother “Why is that little girl pregnant?  She’s too young! Que lastima!” I was horrified.

I gave birth to Kai at a hospital where its average age for a new mother is 37 years old.  I was merely 25, which in Bible times is nearing death.  In Northwest DC it’s apparently 12 years too young.  All of the hospital nurses insisted we were the youngest couple ever to have a child at the hospital!  I laughed thinking it was an exaggeratory compliment.  But now it seems as though it had a slight hinge of truth.

Going against me is I look young.  I am very petite with a young face.  It’s in my genes so what do you do, right?  I ordered geeky chic glasses, grew out my hair, and now wear less revealing clothing.  I refuse to list my resume when someone second-guesses my age, but the experiences keep building.

I was strolling Kai at a neighborhood festival when a man handed me a pamphlet for Unwed Teenage Mothers automatically speaking Spanish with this empathetic look to my “situation.” Let’s review my “situation” so to speak.  I am 27 years old, have had the same partner for many years, have a dual college degree, a steady job, and a side business.  Far from the narrow-minded stereotype mentioned earlier.

Parents and caretakers on the playground have asked where Kai’s parents are thinking I am the nanny.  Worst of all Kai’s schoolteachers had a going bet (which I later found out from one of the assistant teachers) on how old I was!  No one thought I was over the age of 20.

It gets tiring explaining myself or trying to act a certain way around other parents.  I am constantly excluded from conversations about children or spoken to in that you’re-young-so-you-don’t-understand tone about my son.  Many times I do not receive the respect I deserve.  The only positive I can think of is when Kai reaches high school I’ll be the hottest mama on the block!

Contributor Author: Tara Trinity,

an aspiring singer-songwriter,

 

polynesian dancer, and graphic designer in Washington, D.C. She lives with her partner, Dan and son, Kai.

 

 

 

 

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Tara Trinity

Tara Trinity

Tara is a creative and ambitious woman of Puerto-Rican and Hawaiian-Filipina heritage. She is a rising singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. While her columns are on pause she works for multiple businesses as a graphic designer and is a co-founder for Aloha Island Revue – a Polynesian dance company offering dance classes and luau shows. She lives with her partner and son in Washington, D.C.

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Comments

  1. Yes you will be, sister!!
    Now I feel really bad. There was a young mother at my son’s preschool and I look back and think that I judged her too harshly now. She was young (not as young as I thought) and at first I assumed she was one of the teachers. Turns out she’s an accountant! I’ll try to be more open minded.

  2. tguzman24 says:

    Great Read! Nice reminder to remain open minded! :)

    • Tara your article was very insightful. I am so sorry that you feel that way. Know that what really matters in LIFE is not what others think about you, it is how you feel about yourself as a person and as a mother. We can not fall victim to IGNORANCE. Know that I am so proud of you and I think that you are a great MOM. Keep your head up high and keep it moving girlfriend!

  3. I like it.

  4. John Lembo says:

    I love that Tara gave us a perspective on life that many of us never hear of or experienced ourselves, and for those who have know now that your not alone.

    She opened my eyes to how harsh the world can be by judging people based solely on looks. There is so much to our story then just our cover (our Looks).

    Loved the article it was informative, real, and had just enough humor to make it very entertaining.

  5. Tara I love this, thanks for sharing.
    But people will always be judgemental and think with their eyes intead of their brain. I’ve gotten so many angry looks and such when I am with Mia. As if I did something wrong, but they dont know me in order to judge me. Being a young army wife makes it so much harder considering how much older the other women are. I stand with my head up high and let them be. Like my husband says, being a young mom is hard enough.

    • I wanted to tell you that yes people are going to judge you by your looks but you have to show them who you really are, you have to ignore the looks and the comments and be the self that you would be if that wasn’t going on. I wish you the best and trust me I can identify with you & from experience it gets better : )

  6. Rachel Dickey says:

    What a great writer and such a brave woman! Your writing is so insightful about the hardships that young mother’s must feel. Bravo!

  7. I too look very young for my age and my husband and I discuss having a baby soon but I am afraid of being judged. It shouldn’t matter. I should look forward to these kinds of things but I know I will be looked down upon because they will assume I am a teenage single mother who made a mistake. I also had women I worked with and parents at the daycare center assume i was a teenager and I did not get as much respect, not even from my boss because I look so young. Parents even told my boss I was too young to be taking care of their baby. Later they found out I was 22. I babysit a little boy and if I go out into public I have older women give me disgusted looks, BUT if my husband is with us we get compliments of how cute “our” child is. So I think the husband being in the picture helps. I’m still worried about when I become pregnant though and I’m in school or grocery shopping alone! Anyway, I really do want to thank you for this article!

  8. Poppy King says:

    You go girl!!! This is a good reminder to let everybody know to always keep an open mind and don’t assume right away. Great read!

  9. I get the same reaction, I have 3 boys and one is about 3 inches away from being my height. One day I was at his football game and they were giving out parking instructions to parents, and the person giving them out skipped me. I was chasing him through the park trying to get one, when I finally got him to pay attention to me, he said I am sorry these are for parents only that is why I didn’t give you one before. I said sir, I am the mother of these children I need parking instructions. He handed me the paper but was very doubtful, I grabbed my paper and laughed about it with the other mothers.

    • Tara Trinity says:

      This makes me laugh SO HARD!!!! My son is already more than half of my height. I’m only 5′ tall and since his father is about 6’2, he’s going to be tall. Everyone jokes saying he’ll catch up to me in a few years – which is definitely true. But I’m sure the same things will happen to me!

  10. Jean McKean says:

    Tara,
    What a great article. It is unfortunate that people judge without not knowing the whole truth. I had my first baby 44 years ago when I was 23 and can you believe that was considered late for your first baby? I looked like I was in my teens so I have know idea what people thought who did not know me. Now that I am 67 many people say-“You don’t look that old”. I don’t consider 67 old, but I just smile and say’Thanks’. So be glad you look young, take care of your skin and when you get ‘old’ like me you will still be taking people by surprise.

  11. Great read and very insightful!
    Congrats Tara on your looks AND your accomplishments!

  12. Yvette Hawkins says:

    i can TOTALLY relate. i feel the same exact way. i feel like other parents at ava’s school are surprised when they find out more about me and i always round UP on my age feeling guilty for having had my Ava so young (25). Some of Ava’s friends’ parents are in thier 50’s. Everyone always asks me how old i am and i feel like i have to justify why i had ava so young. I dread playdates which i begrudginly set up b/c ava has no siblings. C’est la vie

  13. Flor Esquivel-Benitez says:

    Being a young mother bothered me when I was pregnant and going to college, but not any more, and I’ll tell you why. I have two children, a four year old and a two year old, and I recently turned 26. I have learned to look at things from a different perspective. Every time someone who is older says “pobrecita” or “Oh My God” in my mind I think pobrecitos for them. Many times people’s comments are projections of they’re past experiences or things they wish they had. Many, are too smart to get into having babies or come to realize that they do need someone else but have spent their entire life studying or analyzing everything around them including people. I found love and that is why I have two children. Education is applied and I realized I can get more education at any point of my life, love however can’t be found in a book!

  14. Great article! I was 20 years old when I had my son, during that time I remember most of my friend’s moms looking at me funny or telling me the “pobrecita” comments… now many years later a lot of their daughters really haven’t done much with their lives, some still living at home, parents supporting them (with degrees) and paying off their student loans.
    I do admit I worked extra hard for what I have now; a degree, a great paying job, and the most beautiful family and loving husband.
    Life is good… and yes now that I’m older I love looking better than most of the moms at school ( :
    A great article to remind people that having a baby at a young age is not enough to judge the mother by.
    We have to support our hermanas no matter what!

    • actually, I wouldn’t consider 20 that young. That is already an adult, and in many other countries, have been through a whole lot more, including raising kids.

      • i agree as well. but it isn’t what we think all of the time – it’s how others perceive us. and if you are “young” or “look young” in their eyes, you get mistreated or misjudged regardless.

        also, no matter what age you are doesn’t define you or what you’ve experienced – so i know exactly what you mean! some 20 year olds I know are much more mature and refined than some 40 year olds. just depends i guess at times.

  15. I hope I’m not out of line for reply, since most comments on here were from females. However i feel any women at any age are capable of raising their child, single or not. I’ve seen it done many times…including my sister. She had my niece, Ella, at a very young age as a single mom and now 7 years later, still single. Is the most AMAZING niece EVER! Haha.

    • Chaz, we always welcome feedback, comments and thoughts from everyone, especially our men :) Thanks for your comment and welcome!

  16. I feel your frustrations, completely. I get the same thing. It’s so much worse if I’m by myself too…people feel really guilty and resentful, that maybe they would be expected to help me, because by their assumptions I “have it so hard.” I have two small girls. Luckily, I usually just go ahead and announce when I see people looking at me “I’m 27, I just look young.” “Ohhh mija, I’m so glad!” I’ve gotten that response, a lot!

    • and even if you weren’t 27 – it still doesn’t matter! thanks for the comment. everytime i hear someone else sharing the same sentiments it makes me feel better knowing i’m not alone.

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