When Luwam Tesfaye and her husband Bini realised they were pregnant with their first child, Isabella — Bella for short — they were 23 and 24, respectively. Fresh out of college, Luwam admitted she didn't know the first thing about raising a child. Regardless, the pair tackled parenthood together head on. In a reflective blog post, Luwam outlined the pros and cons of having kids in your early 20s, and you're going to want to take what she said to heart no matter your age.
"One look at our daughter's dark brown eyes, and we were hooked," she wrote. "There is something so precious about babies that all you want to do is love them with all your heart. I'm glad everything happened the way it did. Isabella saved my life and brought me out of misery after my father died. My heart was and will forever be full of love for her. I feel blessed to have kids at different stages in my life and have learned to appreciate the timing of it all."
She went on to describe some of the positives — as well as downsides — of having a kid when you're relatively young, and it's certainly food for thought.
1. The best part of having children young was having all the energy to run around with the kids when they were little. I see such a difference in the way Bella was raised when compared to Lorenzo and now Novena. As I got older, my energy level went down, and with each child, I can see a difference in how I parent.
2. We were ahead in the parenting game. Isabella is now almost our height, so while our friends are just now having babies and going through all the motions of being a parent, we've already mastered it . . . well as much as anyone can.
3. With youth comes free spirit and the idea that nothing has to be perfect. There was no structure, no plan, and every day we made it as parents was a blessing. I miss those carefree days when I got in a car and took Bella everywhere with me, including restaurants at 9 p.m. Asked if I'd do that now, and my answer would definitely be no. We were also the masters of leaving Bella with our friends and disappearing for hours to get a break from parenting. Another carefree behaviour I'd never entertain today.
1. We were babies ourselves and knew nothing about parenthood. Everything we learned was through books and family members that came to help.
2. I felt like life was passing me by. While I was home raising a child, my friends were all going to grad school, partying, and just starting in their careers. I felt left out and alone on my motherhood journey. The only moms I could relate to were much older than me and had established lives already.
3. Having less patience. While you have all the energy in the world, you lack patience, the kind that comes with age."
Although Luwam certainly knows she can't undo the past, she does have some advice for her former 23-year-old self.
"I'd tell her to be more patient and listen to other people's advice but still follow her heart," she said. "I'd tell her to be confident in her parenting and trust the purpose. Most of all, I'd say that although there is no perfect parent, having structure and a plan in place is key to ensuring that everything gets done."
And looking back, she wouldn't change her life's trajectory for anything in the world. "With age comes the wisdom of understanding that we are all exactly where we need to be in life," she wrote. "If you're currently pregnant or even thinking about it but terrified of the idea of bringing a child into this world, consider this: God only gives us what he knows we can handle. Don't overthink the idea of being a parent, simply be one and let your heart guide you along the way. Take everything day by day and always be a present parent."