Motherhood can seem like a very lonely journey, but when societal stigma and shame about your maternal age are prevalent, it can be even more isolating.
Like most mothers, after having my daughter I was longing for a community of mom friends I could spend time with and talk with about things pertaining to motherhood (and things that had nothing to do with parenting).
I had all the makings of a mother. I had the child, bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and a diaper bag full of extra clothing, diapers and snacks. The only thing that seemed to keep me out of the “mom club” was the fact that I was 16 years old and had a child.
When I would try to interact with and join mom groups as a teenage mother, I was always met with hostility, interrogative questions and assumptions about my family and the “type of girl” I was.
When trying to sign up for a mom group in my neighborhood, I was told that the group was full despite the very empty sign-up sheet on the picnic table between me and one of the group members. As I walked away feeling completely dejected, I heard the women say they did not want “those types of girls in their group anyways.”
Being a mother looking for a community was trumped by societal stereotypes of being one of “those girls.” It trumped the fact that, like them, I too was a loving mother in need of friends to relate to and chat with while watching our children play on the playground. The ways in which mothers talk about fellow mothers who have children in their teenage years is harmful and divisive.
Motherhood is hard enough.
When you are a teenage mother, it is more difficult for several reasons, which include, but are not limited to, societal shame and stigma. The least other mothers can do is respect, acknowledge and befriend a teenage mother once in a while.