Oh, Those 20-Something Moms!

It happened the other day at a restaurant. I was having lunch with my older daughter when a young woman with a baby in the booth behind us caught my eye.

She must have been in her early twenties. No big deal, right? The average age of a first-time mom in this country is 25.

But as always when confronted with a much younger mom, I found myself a little shocked. She’s the norm. Having had my first child at 40 and second at 42, I’m the outlier. But to me, she feels odd.

Once again the questions flooded my mind.

How can she be mature enough to handle a baby? How did she find the right mate so early – or did she?  How can she be a good mom when she’s barely had a chance to grow up herself?

Biased questions, no doubt.

Yet there’s a way in which big deviations from one’s own experience seem strange, even when you’re the one living beyond the law of averages. My late-mommy skin has become so familiar that I can’t imagine life any other way.

I know it’s possible to raise kids well in your twenties. (Younger than that, I think parenthood is a real challenge.) My own mother had me at 25. And I’ve met women who wed early and have been happily married for decades.

But these experiences are so different from my mine that I have trouble comprehending them.

So the encounter with the 20-something mom is always jarring. I have to make a conscious effort not to judge her. I have to remind myself that she’s the norm and I’m the renegade.

After all, imagine what she must think of me!

*****

What about you other moms who had children late? Do much younger mothers prompt certain thoughts? If so, what are they?

Do you feel like the new normal or like an outlier? Please share your thoughts here!

Photo Credit © Albinutza/Dreamstime.com

17 comments
0 likes
Prev post: Purge that Pile: 10 Steps to a Clean DeskNext post: Hey Smart Mom, What’s On Your Smartphone? 4 Apps You’ll Love

Related posts

Comments

  • Lila

    February 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm
    Reply

    Diversity is what makes things interesting. For someone who prides themself as having had so much time to find out who you are, you seem […] Read MoreDiversity is what makes things interesting. For someone who prides themself as having had so much time to find out who you are, you seem to have a narrow minded view of the world. How could it possibly be startling to read that the average age of a new mom is 25? Maybe that bubble you are living in is reinforcing your denial. Its great that moms are all from different backrounds and ages. One would think that your self awareness would make you comfterble enough to be at peace with the choice to have children late. Not project your insecurities into judgment of others who didnt make that same choice. Read Less

  • Danielle

    February 5, 2011 at 12:33 am
    Reply

    I am 54 and a single mom of three. Two sons ages 27 and 22 and a 6 year old daughter. Yes, you read that […] Read MoreI am 54 and a single mom of three. Two sons ages 27 and 22 and a 6 year old daughter. Yes, you read that right - 6 years old as in Kindergarten. The truth is I actually forget how old I am, but every once in a while someone will refer to my daughter as my grand daughter and suddenly I realize I really am not as young as I feel! The funniest part of it is the kids that grew up in the neighbor hood now have children of their own that my daughter plays with. Truthfully I had no idea or intention of spending my "empty nest" years raising another child; however it has been so much fun I can't imagine my life being an better. Read Less

    • JenniferHull
      to Danielle

      February 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm
      Reply

      Hi Danielle! Your comment is so interesting. I know a lot of moms with large age gaps between kids but yours tops them! At least […] Read MoreHi Danielle! Your comment is so interesting. I know a lot of moms with large age gaps between kids but yours tops them! At least you knew a lot about parenting by the time you had your youngest. I had my first at 40 and was clueless, though I'm an old hand now! I agree that being an active mom leaves you little time to ponder your age - much less any wrinkles. I am also finding it fun, if exhausting at times. The other day, I actually couldn't remember how old I was for a moment. (I'm 53). All that focus on little people's birthdays makes it easy to forget one's own! Read Less

  • Kathy Sena - Parent Talk Today

    January 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm
    Reply

    I'm in a similar situation, having had my son at 38. It really depends on where you live. In our area of Southern California, older […] Read MoreI'm in a similar situation, having had my son at 38. It really depends on where you live. In our area of Southern California, older moms are the norm. But when I visit my parents in Florida and go to the mall, I'm always taken aback. On the whole, I'm glad I waited. But I haven't paid that first college bill yet... :) Read Less

  • Lisa Wolcott

    January 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm
    Reply

    It's so location-specific, my reaction! In the Bay Area, where I had my kids at age 38 and 40, I was the norm. Then […] Read MoreIt's so location-specific, my reaction! In the Bay Area, where I had my kids at age 38 and 40, I was the norm. Then I moved to the southeast (northern florida). I am still not over the shock that one day soon after our move, at the mall in FL, holding my niece, a mere 9 months younger than my youngest, a woman came up to me and said "Oh, is that your grandbaby?" My blood pressure still goes up recounting this scenario. I literally thought I misheard her. Now I have met many a woman younger than me who is a grandmother. Right now, I am thinking it's crazy and not the best way to live--a definite preference for my own choices or fate. But I have a feeling that when I'm in my 60s paying for college, I will look upon these younger grandmothers with a lot of envy and see the wisdom in their choices! Read Less

    • JenniferHull
      to Lisa Wolcott

      January 27, 2011 at 2:02 am
      Reply

      Hi Lisa! Thanks for jumping in! Good point - it is really location-specific. I live in a bit of a bubble: two of my cousins […] Read MoreHi Lisa! Thanks for jumping in! Good point - it is really location-specific. I live in a bit of a bubble: two of my cousins are midlife moms and I know lots of others. Also there are a lot at our daughters' schools (probably because they're private and we are in an urban area). So I am always startled when I read that the average first-time mom is 25. I feel really weird when I drop my oldest at camp in rural North Carolina and visit the mall, where some of the moms look like kids themselves. Oops - probably being judgmental again! As for paying for college in our late 50s/60s. . . don't remind me! But like you, I am very happy with my choice/fate. I feel lucky that I had the girls as late as I did. When they're not wearing me out, they actually make me feel younger. Read Less

  • Denise Schipani

    January 26, 2011 at 10:18 pm
    Reply

    I know EXACTLY how you feel! I find myself weirdly biased against younger mothers. Even just a little younger! If someone had a baby at […] Read MoreI know EXACTLY how you feel! I find myself weirdly biased against younger mothers. Even just a little younger! If someone had a baby at 29 or 30, I think, "yeah, but..." It think it's because when I was 30, I was getting over a bad relationship, then because it took me a few more years to find my husband, I look back on my late twenties and early thirties and finding-me time. It just flat out seems WEIRD to think I could have, if things had been different, been a mom in that time. Perspective can be distorting, for sure! Read Less

    • JenniferHull
      to Denise Schipani

      January 27, 2011 at 1:39 am
      Reply

      Denise - Glad I'm not the only one with these feelings! My 20s and early 30s were definitely "finding me" time as well. Actually, to […] Read MoreDenise - Glad I'm not the only one with these feelings! My 20s and early 30s were definitely "finding me" time as well. Actually, to be more accurate, I was practically having a nervous breakdown at 30 (wrong man, wrong job, wrong city. . . had to change it all - ugh!) It's a good thing I didn't have kids then! Read Less

Leave a Reply

About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to the MidAge Mom Blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

For Advice, insight and news


In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Credits

The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, CNN.com, MS., Parenting, Real Simple, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.