Growing Up With Young Parents

Growing up with young parents

1996, I wish I was still as cute

Last night the internet finally got their answer to the Kylie Jenner mystery as she posted a message and video to announce the birth of her daughter. It was beautiful and made me tear up a little. Something struck me at the beginning. Her best friend Jordan reflecting on Kylie being 20 saying ‘When you’re 20 years old you’re figuring out your life…there was one thing your Mom knew for sure, and that was you’. It made me think about my own parents.

When I was born my Mum was 21 and my Dad had only just turned 22. They were in their early twenties and got engaged a few months before I was born.  Then there I was this little screaming baby that they were going to take care of, and take care of they did. I was a first child, first Grandchild, first Niece, I was so, so loved.

When I tell people how young my parents are, they seem shocked. A lot of people I know have parents who are 10 or more years older or the people I work with are the same age as my parents and can’t get their heads around it. The thing is it’s always just seemed normal to me, it is what it is.

The thing is I never felt I missed out by having younger parents. I had a pretty amazing childhood. I went to Disney land when I was little, I had lots of lovely toys. I always felt loved and encouraged in whatever I set out to do. I knew that I was my parents’ whole world, then I got a little sister when I was six and I just fell in love with her.

I’ve gotten into arguments with people before, those who were incredibly narrow-minded, about the fact that people can and should have children when they want to. I know people who’ve waited until their 30s, my best friend had my Goddaughter at 17. Everyone’s journey is different, who are we to judge?

I’m past the point of where my parents were when they had me, I won’t be a young parent just because my life is different and the world is different to what it was in 1994. I love having younger parents, I always have. It might not be the same as what my friends have but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My family is pretty cool.

Any other people from young parent families? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: My Shitty Twenties – Emily Morris

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Emily Morris was just an average 22 year old, she loved travelling, her degree and was balancing that with a part time job. That was until she took a pregnancy test and it was positive. After the father telling her to ‘enjoy her shitty twenties,’ she knew she was going it alone.

I came across this marvel of a memoir because of a recommendation in a magazine, there was something about the title that grabbed me as well as the brilliant cover design. I’m the same age that Emily was when she found out she was pregnant so it felt very real to me.

I feel like I need to point out this book could have gone a very different direction. This is not a whiny, my life is so hard and it’s not my fault type book, not at all. This is a very different type of coming of age story. It’s Emily having to grow up and completely change the course of her life, with her son.

While reading, I honestly felt for Emily. There was no support from the father and a sense of losing her independence after she needed to leave her student accommodation to live with her Mum, away from the city she loved to care for her newborn son. I can say, hand on heart, that she is a fantastic Mum.

This book breaks down terrible stereotypes about young mothers. I think I loved it so much because she has the same spirit and determination that my Mum had when she had me at 21. That said, she shares the hard times as well, the fact that she struggled with postnatal depression and the struggles of being judged as a young mum trying to do her best.

I honestly think that this is an incredible memoir. It’s thought provoking and shows the best of a change in your life. I’ve given this book 4 stars I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to see what Emily does next.

Feminist Fridays: Little Girls and Lipstick

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I’m a firm believer that women should do what empowers them and not take any notice of anyone else. For some this means putting on their make up or perhaps a lipstick to go out, to make them feel confident. Hell, I know I’ve put on a splash of lipstick to make me feel more confident than I really am. While I’m not a frequent make up wearer, I understand that others do and respect their choice. Banning make up isn’t going to sole gender inequality in the world. This week, however, I did have a serious think about children and make up.

When I was a little girl I thought my Mum’s red lipstick was the most classy thing ever ( which is probably where my love for a good red lip comes from), but she only did this when we were going out somewhere special. Day to day, while my Mum used make up it wasn’t made out to be a big thing, she could go out without it if she wanted too, and often did. Now she has two daughters, one who has minimal interest in make up (me) and another who can shame some make up artists if she tried (my sister). I thought back to our childhoods and the way make up was presented to us, it was just another thing. Did we want our nails painted like our Mums? Of course we did but that’s all it was, Mum never showed us a desperation or a need for make up.

Now, when I look for presents for my Goddaughter, due to the fact she’ll be a big sister soon, I find myself increasingly frustrated about what is put on the shelves and the child models themselves. Someone on my Facebook shared an image of a toy that was marketed as 5+ but, alarmingly, the little girls on the front appeared to have red lips. There are piles upon piles of ‘toys’ that have nail varnishes, lipgloss etc with Disney Princesses on. I fully understand little girls wanting to be like their Mums and Sisters but at the same time I’m worried that at the age of 3 or 4 little girls are introduced to an idea that playing, for them, is to do with their appearance.

We all know that growing up is not easy, so why are the toy companies cashing in on making little girls grow up even quicker? I know it’s about business, I know it’s about profit but there’s something I find deeply uncomfortable about it. You don’t want a 4 year old thinking that all they can do is play with dolls and lipgloss. I’m a big believer in letting children be children, because they are for such a short time. Women are told to worry about their bodies from all kinds of media for their entire lives, but putting lipstick on a child that’s going to go on a toy box? It’s too far. We need to take back the toy aisles. We need to tell girls it’s ok to want to play with other things, that they can build whatever they like about lego and we need the kids on the boxes to look like happy and healthy kids, not a dressed up version.

Sometimes, when I write these, I just feel an overwhelming sadness. I struggled so much to fit in even at secondary school because the only make up I was interested was eyeliner, and a lot of it. I struggled when girls would be making up dance routines or playing ‘Mums and Dads’, because I was leading an army in the woods with the boys. I’m not saying that I didn’t LOVE body glitter the age of 10 or put on my Mum’s make up like other girls, of course I did at home. The thing is for almost al of my life I’ve felt like make up was just a thing, not the be all and end all. I don’t care if I go on without it, but I worry about what little girls are seeing now. Look at everyone on Youtube doing make up tutorials, the images used on boxes and the pop stars they watch. There’s never a hair out of place and images are photoshopped for perfection. It may only be a little bit of make up on a model but I for one want to give kids as much time to be kids as possible, before they have to deal with growing up.

Kids and Christmas

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Lexi with one of her presents 

Today one of my FAVOURITE parts of Christmas celebrations happened. Every year me, my sister Summer, my oldest friend Lucy and little Lexi meet up to see each other and exchange presents. Summer plays with Lexi and Lucy and I get to catch up while they run around. Every time I see Lexi she’s shot up even more and she’s the funniest and cutest little kid ever (at one point picking out an Auntie card and handing it to me, so freaking cute).

I’ve written about how amazing it is to be a Godmother/Auntie many times. I’ve documented Lexi’s life through pictures on my phone and I will be doing that for many years to come. She loved the presents she got from everyone (the Belle soft doll in the picture is from the US, my Mum got it when she went earlier in the year) and this is the best reaction to presents. Kids being excited is one of the most awesome parts…I also get excited on a kid level….whoops.

As you all know I don’t have any human children of my own. BUT I do have hamster babies which I may have, sort of, spoilt when I went to the pet section of Wilkinson today. I have heard though from everyone I know with sprogs that when you have them christmas gets even more amazing because seeing their faces makes the day magical. I have to say just by seeing how Lexi reacted today I can understand how people say that, it was adorable.

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My fur babies 

Even though I’m 21 now and my sister is 14 we still get stockings and sent to our rooms early on Christmas eve so the house can be decorated for the day. We still wake up at stupid o clock in the morning, but now we take selfies while we wait, oh and we still get filmed opening all of our presents. Spending time with my sister, seeing Lexi and Lucy and just being home has got me so excited for Christmas now! I’m going to enjoy however long I have of being young, childless and acting like a big, excitable kid!

Book Review: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children – Kirstin Cronn-Mills

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‘This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. 

I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.’ 

Gabe is not your typical teenage boy, his best friend is a girl,

when he’s not hanging out with her he’s at his neighbours house listening to original LPs and learning the radio tricks of the trade from an old man. Oh and Gabe was born Elizabeth, which I wouldn’t mention apart from it plays a big part in the story. Like many of us Gabe finds a love in music that can rival no other, well apart from a certain someone, but I’ll leave you to get to that yourself.

The intriguing name and bright cover is what initially drew me to this book, but I got so much more. Not only do you get a wealth of music knowledge from reading this novel but you also get a character to fall in love with, I felt so much for Gabe and almost cried at points while reading. Gabe describes himself as being ‘like a record’ he has an A side and a B side, one side is Elizabeth which is who everyone else considers him to be and the B side is Gabe, who he is truly happy to be. While the world is fighting for him to be Elizabeth, there’s a another crowd who is more than happy to have Gabe around. Gabe’s saving grace comes through a radio show that he hosts, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. 

It was really refreshing in this novel to have both sides of what being Transgender means. While some people are not supportive and as the blurb says think Gabe is ‘crazy’ there are also many people who couldn’t care less about Gabe’s transition and just see him as a great DJ. I don’t know about you but those are the kinds of people I’d rather be around. Cronn-Mills has done a great job in exploring a sensitive topic and trying to go down many avenues.

I think the real gold lies with the A-Side, B-Side idea within the novel. Cronn-Mills has found a way to connect everyone with Gabe, even if they aren’t going through transition. It’s the idea that everyone has two sides to them  one they want to show to the world and one the world sees. This is the beauty of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children with just a voice on a radio station everyone is the same and I really wish life was like that. I also adored the characters of Paige and John. They’re completely different but their support for Gabe is incredible.

I’m going to give this novel 5 stars *****, it’s absolutely incredible. Gabe is an incredible character that I dare you not to love. I also appreciated that Gabe and the people around him were flawed in different ways, it made the story a lot more believable and realistic to me as a reader. I’m really looking forward to reading some of Cronn – Mills other works as she really does have a talent in creating her characters.

Review by Chloe Metzger

Milestones

I’ve been thinking lately about milestones. I don’t know what it was exactly but I’m guessing it’s a combination of turning 21 (which I don’t understand why it’s a big deal in the UK), seeing more and more of the people I went to school with having children and getting engaged and a lot of my other friends graduating, starting careers and all that jazz. To put it simply milestones freak me out, I’m sure they do for most people. You’re supposed to do this, do that at a certain age, a certain time. For girls there’s a choice between being a mother and being a career woman, because we’re told we can’t have it all.

In some ways I’m lucky, I found the love of my life when I was 13 years old and we live together. Now we’re more than happy together, we’re both doing degrees we love and have careers that we want, but for everyone else it’s not enough. Everyone asks me when we’ll get married, when we’ll have a baby (never if). I just feel a bit stuck and part of that is because I am a woman. Ali NEVER gets asked when he’ll be a father, he’s asked about his job and what he’s going to do for work, it’s all pretty frustrating. I know that I’m an intelligent woman and I have big aspirations, so why do people ask about these ‘traditional’ things.

I’m in no way saying that people my age shouldn’t be married or have children, most of the women in my family had babies by the time they were my age and they’ve all taught me so much. My best friend became a mother at 17 and she’s one of the most awesome ones I know.The thing is my dream right now is walking across that stage to pick up my degree, being able to treat myself with money I’ve earnt and being happy. I will have children, I’d love to be a mum at some point but I wish people would understand there is so much more to me than the fact I can grow a human. I liked this picture below, it definitely made me smile.

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This isn’t an anti-children post, which is how some will read it, it’s just a frustration that sometimes I’m judged by these milestones when I have other amazing things going on. I hate that I have to think about body clocks and all that crap when I’m trying to plan things out about where I want to be in my life, because I’ve been bombarded with media listing risks and problems. Like I said why am I even thinking about this as a twenty year old!

I appreciate that this post might not make much sense, I don’t even know if it does to me, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, a year or ten but I just want it to be on my own terms, not because of supposed milestones and other people’s ideas of what happiness is.

My Big Mouth: ‘Boy or Girl?’

While out with my sister today I was really surprised by a gender division issue when shopping for the most ridiculous things. When trying to buy a birthday badge we were asked oh is it for a male or female, after saying female we were given a pink badge instead of being told colours (never mind the fact this girl is a tomboy). Then again later in the day going for a bite to eat I ordered my sister a kids meal and was asked is the meal for a boy or a girl, again I answered girl and was given an incredibly feminine toy instead of a much cooler car/plane toy which actually did things.

I’m not going on a feminist rant here but it seems really trivial to give girls pink and boys blue. As a kid I may have had a barbie bedroom but I wanted action men too and while the boys played Army in the woods, I was the leader of that army. Even now, it’s only in the last year I’ve been considered ‘one of the girls’ instead of ‘one of the lads’.

I’ve known this divide exists for a long time but twice in one day? Oh and my little cousin saying he wanted a ‘boys colour’ not a ‘girls colour’, I thought that in 2014 we could let kids be what they wanted to be. I’m not saying get rid of all pink and blue and pretend all toys are gender neutral, they’re not. Most, not all, of the time boys will go for Nerf guns over a doll but then girls also became interested and now there are pink ones. With flowers on. I’m sorry what? Another example I saw via Facebook was of a 5 year old boys Frozen themed party, he loved it but other parents thought it was wrong for him to have the theme, deeming it girly. Since when? There isn’t a little kid I know that hasn’t watch Frozen and there are guys in it, Olaf the Snowman is supposedly male…well for a snowman. So why the hell are these kids being told what to like?

I’m hoping that by the time I have kids, way into the future (sorry Mum) people will respect my wishes to let them play with whatever they want. I don’t want to have a girl and smother her in pink or a boy who is only given blue, maybe I won’t tell people at all so I wont get things that are ‘suitable’ for either. I respect parents who let their kids play with what they want and what makes them happy because isn’t that all kids want, to be happy?