Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Belonging as a mom.

As you all know, I am 24. A baby, as some of the older folks say.

I got married very young, just a few months shy of 19. Yes, I WAS 18. But I was at BYU, the college where young marriedness is accepted (and somewhat expected). So even after I put on the ring, I still felt like I fit in with my peers. A lot of my friends were married or getting married, anyway. Sometimes, it was a little awkward to inform obviously interested male classmates of my marital status. But this was BYU. What did they expect? Slightly awkward, but the show went on.

Then, I got pregnant. (It was intentional, just so you know.) I was only about half-way done with my degree. All of my classmates were taking fabulous anchor jobs on campus, running off on fabulous internships with their fabulous hair and fabulous clothes; meanwhile, I was just trying to survive my beginning reporting class in the Provo heat with a massive belly and some non-fabulous maternity shirts (and ONE skirt). Let me say, pregnancy is a definite game-changer, even at BYU. Young and married? Cool. Young, married and pregnant? Weird. Try telling your assigned study group that you might not be coming to class EVER because you can't stop puking and you will probably be bed-ridden most of the semester. Or try soaking up the stares you'll most definitely receive when you decide the floor is probably more comfortable for your pubic symphasis diastasis than a chair. Point being, pregnant women are an anomaly and people want to avoid them. Especially in college.

(Maybe they think pregnancy is contagious? Wouldn't put it past the BYU population, unfortunately.)

The awkwardness of pregnancy eventually ended and Bubby was born. Mind you, I was a little more than half-way done with college at that point and I was bound and determined to finish. For me, going to school with a kid was way harder than going to school pregnant. At least when you're pregnant, you can just drag your sorry carcass to class and study groups and meetings on a moment's notice. People may even pity your obvious condition. Not when you have a child. Different story.

Now, I know there are BYU students who bring their babies to class. I am not one of them. Babies don't belong at school, methinks. So I arranged for sitters. I paid for them or I traded babysitting hours with them. Sometimes, I was lucky enough to have family watch Bubby for free. Dill was able to rework his schedule to have an entire day off during the week, so that's when I took the bulk of my classes during my first semester back. It was not easy to coordinate classes and study sessions around my sitters, but I felt it had to be done. My motherhood might hinder my education a little bit, but I wasn't going to let it hinder that of others.

Then, I got an internship and started this blog. At BYU, when people find out you're in the "family way," they might be slightly surprised, but they figure it's the next logical step for a married Mormon woman. In the real world, at a real news station? Utter shock. With each revelation, it was, "You're a MOM?!" and my response was a tentative, "Yep!" I don't know what people were thinking, but I can guess "accident" and "teen pregnancy" may have been part of the thought process. And understandably so. I'm ashamed to admit I was a little embarrassed by it. People were supportive, though. I won't forget when seasoned reporter and expectant dad Jason Barry asked me for parenting advice on a ride-along, or when I showed Bubby's baby pictures to anchor Nicole Crites, a young mom herself. But for the most part, my being a mom was especially awkward while I interned at KPHO. All the other interns were heading off to bigger and better things when they finished -- I was heading home. And everyone knew it. This time: really awkward.

Once I completed my internship and graduated, I breathed a big sigh of relief as I took my natural place as a stay-at-home mom. This is the job I'm meant for. It fits, it feels right. And I finally feel like I belong.

This morning, a good friend and neighbor invited me and several other moms with our kids over for breakfast and Mary Poppins. How nice it was to sit together and chat about the momly things we do all day while our kids ran around (and ate chalk, in the case of Smushyboy)! I always feel so at home at these meet-ups. I don't have to defend the fact I'm married and have children. I don't have to defend my decision to be a homemaker. I don't have to ever feel ashamed of my kids and the gross or crazy things they do -- in fact, I wear those moments like badges of honor! The pregnancy grossness, the aftermath of childbirth, the potty-training, the fishing foreign objects out of my kid's mouth -- they're my work experience. And they look really good on my résumé.

I don't know where I'm going with this, except to say that I am comfortable as a mom. At this time in my life, I am happy raising and teaching my little ones every day. This is where I am supposed to be. Is it always a party? No. Is it rewarding? Yes. Is it worthwhile? You bet. Is it hard to see the rewards? Often, it is. But you learn to rely on love and as you do, your eyes are opened to what a wonderful, special, and dare I say, sacred thing it is to be a mother. I'm grateful I've finally found a place where I belong.

And, I'm proud to say, it's not awkward at all.


  1. I'm proud of you :)

    I always wanted to be the young mom and have (surprise) turned into a career woman. My turn will come, but it always surprises me how life and the Lord often have something really special in store for us!

    In my opinion I think there is no higher calling. I love and respect all the moms I know. I think they need it. Our society is much too "career driven." Even more, it's like specific careers are "better" than others. For instance, you know my position, a photog at a magazine. People do not respect it, really. I don't mind, I love what I do. It's where I'm supposed to be.

    I'm glad you are peace with your incredible role!

  2. Jenna, I love you! This made me feel like I can go back to school if I want to but I'm not a loser for dropping out. Thank you!

    -Mandy Ellis

  3. Great post! And I thought I was young when I got married (just shy of 21), but I went to a liberal art college where my advisor basically laughed at me when I told her the reason I might quit college is because I was getting married and my soon-to-be husband could not find a job. Yeah, not as fun.

    I might not have kids yet, but I'm pretty confident that I will be in the same situation that you are. I hope I make some SAHM friends, too, that understand just why I gave up a career to watch my kids.

  4. I LOVE PLAY GROUP! There is something so satisfying about fellow mothers and our horror stories and badges of honor. And these women are wonderful. I hope you keep coming with us.

  5. I personally thought you were wonder woman that semester. Seriously, I thought I would die half the time, lugging those stupid tripods up and down the hills south of campus and I wasn't even pregnant! And there you were, lugging all that equipment with the best of them.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

    Just thought you should know :)

  6. Woot mommydom, I'm super excited to join the ranks someday! Thanks for sharing your story, its always interesting for me to hear diff views of the Y.

  7. I was at a community college in Los Angeles the last trimester of my pregnancy with Rushton. Imagine me telling my teachers the first week of school that there was a small chance I would be in the hospital having a baby during finals week. It was awesome. I can totally relate to your awkward prego at college story. Yep!

    The first time I felt the fitting in you describe in this post was when we finally moved to the suburbs of Vegas a few months ago. Now people ask me "How old is your son" or "What is his name?" instead of "Is that YOUR baby??" It's nice. =) Yay for motherhood, and yay for sisterhood in motherhood.

  8. This post is ALL KINDS of wonderful! :)

  9. Are you writing about me??? This was/is me. I married young and had my first baby 10 months and 15 days after my wedding day. I went to college pregnant time and time again. In the end I have been a stay at home mom for...ever homeschooling my kids and loving it all the way.

    Great post! Your kids are just adorable!!!

  10. Here again -- from SITS! Congrats on the FB day :)

    I so admire you for being a young mom, raising two kids! I love how you've embraced this vocation and are thriving because of it. Bravo to you. And your kids are suuuuuuper cute!

  11. Beautifully said. Sometimes I think we're making progress as a society and started to value motherhood for what it is, an incredible sacrifice upon which all the other successes in life are based. Other times, not so much.

    The one thing I always knew I wanted to be in life was a mom. Nothing else has ever compared.

    Thank you for writing about motherhood with pride. Standing up for your choice is also standing up for the choices of other women. And we could all use a few more people standing up for us.

  12. So true ... motherhood is a whole new (and weird) world! And we need as many fellow moms around us t help us remember it's an important and essential job!

    Enjoy your SITS day! :)

  13. I became a mom late (like just short of my 40th. birthday) and it is bizarre to me how many of my colleagues instantly wrote me off as a 'go getter' at work. I feel like I've spent the past two years working twice as hard to show everyone that I'm still in the game.

  14. You are supermom (but even superheroes get to take a break now and then...get a massage, yanno?)

    I was also a mom in college (second time around) and still fairly young and people always were shocked to learn I had kids. Funny world.

  15. Love this post. It's so great to see you loving motherhood and all it's disgusting joys. I feel the same way most of the time.
    Though I don't know if I could have handled school and kids at the same time. Not at first, anyway.
    Congrats on making it through and sticking with it!

  16. found you through SITS and just love your blog! Have read through all of your "favorite" posts (plus a few more) and look forward to more - loved the food post especially (I'm stale marshmallow peeps all the way.....) :)

  17. I love this post because I can relate to it. I want to major in broadcast journalism as well. i was in school for a little while but I had to leave for several reasons, one being that my daughter stayed in the hos[pital for several days with a minor kidney infection. Im hoping to go back to school and get my Master's degree at the Graduate School of Journalism right here in NY. I wish you good luck in your career choice and I'll be praying that yiu become stronger as a mom, wife, journalist, and woman. God Bless you!

  18. What an adventure. It isn't true that sometimes the biggest game changers are dramatic events. So glad you are comfortable with your stage of life. Thanks for sharing. And I am stilling trying to imagine going to college while super pregnant!

  19. Lovely post! It's all about being comfortable with where you're at and what you're doing. I got married and had my first a bit older than you, but I look younger than I am so I know those looks you got with 'teen pregnancy' written all over them. So glad you are loving life now.

    Here from SITS!

  20. Great post! I got married young too right after turing 19 and had my first son at 22. He was planned too. I look really young (like over 10 years younger than I am) so I think most people think my son was a teenage pregnancy (he's almost 6 now). It bugs me sometimes that people judge me when they shouldn't but its something I have to live with.

  21. This is a beautiful post and I really admire you and your journey to where you are now. I love how you have found your comfort zone and joy in being a mom. Glad to have found you through SITS!

  22. At such a young age when other girls would rather think of mundane things to do, you've already discovered what you're here for. So happy for you! I haven't been blessed with kids and when I hear of women embracing motherhood like you have, I feel a certain sense of envy. But I'm happy, right where I am. Glad to meet you and happy SITS day again!


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