Jocilyn Mitchell, a mom from South Africa with a gorgeous 4-month-old son named Carter, never planned on getting pregnant so early in life. But at 21, Jocilyn was expecting, and if she's being completely honest, she didn't feel especially supported by society. In a moving blog post, she explained that although she was ecstatic to bring her son into the world, being a young mom has been hard.
"Finding out I was pregnant came as a huge shock to me, I certainly did not plan to have a baby so young and I never thought I would be a mom at 21 years old," she wrote in her blog post. "Back in the day it was the norm to have your kids young but recently couples are having kids much later in life and young mothers don't always get the support they need nowadays."
While people often feel like they're trying to help, the constant questions and criticism can be nerve-wracking for young mothers. Jocilyn has heard everything from "Why are you not breastfeeding?" to "You obviously are not burping him properly?" to flat out questions about her decision to be a mother in the first place.
"I have heard it all," she wrote. "'Aren't you too young to be a mom?' 'What about the rest of your life?' 'Don't you want to travel?' 'You going to miss out on so much.' Whether it's been said to my face or behind my back I hear you. I hear your deepest concern for me not following a trend of partying, travelling . . . and 'living my life to the fullest.'"
"But don't worry, I am not 'young, stupid, and naive,' just young."
Jocilyn admits that she, too, has asked herself these questions every day, and the responsibility of bringing a child into the world definitely scared her at first. "Society has created such an expectation about what women should be doing before the age of 25, and one of them is definitely not motherhood. But don't worry, I am not 'young, stupid, and naive,' just young. I have said these things to myself a thousand times," she explained. "Naturally, I was concerned about my future and the responsibilities that lay ahead. I was insecure about being capable of looking after a baby and, of course, the financial struggles a baby could bring."
Although Jocilyn admits she's definitely open to getting advice from more experienced parents, she hopes that she'd still be given the same pointers had she had kids 10 years older.
"I want to be a part of a mom community that will not discriminate against my age. I am still a mom and still going through exactly what you are going through with your baby," she said. "It's the same stuff whether are 21 or 41, motherhood is new to any new mom."
Furthermore, Jocilyn hopes that Carter won't miss out on things because she had him at a young age. "I really hope Carter will still be invited to your child's birthday party or will still be allowed to play with your son on the football field," she wrote. "I hope you still greet me when we drop our kids off at school and I hope I will be invited to the social mom gatherings. I really do hope that you treat myself and my kids just like you would if I was your age."
Now, Jocilyn has some important advice for new moms when it comes to any negative comments or judgement: stand your ground.
"To any other young mom: we do not need to be a part of a 'young mom' community. We deserve to be a part of the standard, normal motherhood community because, in fact, there is no real standard or normality when it comes to being a mom and that's what we are," she said. "We aren't young moms or old moms we are all just moms. We are all here learning as we go and doing the best we can to raise a beautiful little generation which I am proud to be a part of."