Tuesday 15 October 2013

Guilty Of Doing Something I Vowed I Never Would...

As I stared at the back of the young girl stood in front of me in the post office today, I realised why so many people have bad opinions of young mothers, why they judge and presume we are awful people.

Peering over her shoulder to see where the noise was coming from, I see a small child, a toddler in a buggy and whining for who I presume to be his mother's attention. I'm guessing this toddler is no older than 2, 2 and a half at a push, I stare at his head, where hair should be, but fail to find plenty. Spud was born with so much hair, I still find it fascinating to see children with no or little hair. 

I move to the side just a little, to see what's taking so long and its then that I notice a little old lady stood at the cashiers desk, I move back to my place in a fashionably que, a in the middle kind of thing, one in front of another it reminds me of being at school. I look to the left side and roll my eyes at the tat the shop sells.

This shop/post office, has been here since before I was born, so we know its older than 23 years at least, the hard wear store that soon changed over the years, cutting half off to become a salon with the other half remaining the hard wear store, which later changes into a 'bargain shop' and a post office. The bargains are tat, and nothing that would last long at all I believe, a couple of weeks maybe!? Made for cheap, sold for cheap, designed to last long enough for you to get home, no refunds or exchanges offered, you have no need to wonder why.

I'm distracted from my own day dream, of childhood memories of this shop to a shout, ok maybe a little raised voice, but just decibels away from a shout. Sit your a*s down, all you do is play me up was the first tirade of words out of this mother's mouth. I peak to the little boy, acting as though I am looking ahead at the beginning of the que, it then all takes me by surprise.

For sat in this stroller, covered in food and stains, which looks like its lasted a few years surprisingly for the cheap look of it, that little boy sat with no coat, no shoes and 1 sock. His ankles on show for all to see and skin from the bottom of his leg, due to what seems trousers that were clearly to small. I think of myself, how cold I am, I think back to the small child, I think of how cold he must be. I try my hardest to check out the buggy, we've all been waiting for a long time for the little old lady who seem's to be sending a whole plastic carrier of Christmas cards to various family members, yes in October! I'm thinking this lady is not that silly, she's got a coat, the other sock and some shoes for that baby somewhere.

But with no basket, and no hood, the cheapest strollers you can bore, and just a handbag on the arm I sink into reality and realise this baby, well recently turned toddler has no coat, no shoes and one sock. I'm starting to hope both Mum and toddler don't live far, but then I think, how close is too far? I personally would not of let Spud out in that way, in the middle of October, a cold Autumn day! 

The que starts to draw shorter and in turn it soon reaches the young girl stood in front of me. I study her, trying not to, as I know what is coming, I know what the devil stood on my shoulder is egging me on to do, with the Angel on the other side chanting don't, I can't stop, I judge.

This girl, who I presume to be a mum has asked the post office cashier if she can withdraw 'whatever is in her account' the cashier replies with £3.88? The young girl replies with yes. I watch her in her Paul's Boutique coat, and her nice jeans, with her nice figure and her sparkling clean white Converse's and then I revert my eyes back to that poor baby. A baby who has been whining and crying for the last 11 minutes, he has no shoe's, just 1 sock and no coat. 

Maybe I'm over protective but this morning was so cold, Spud wore his hat and gloves to school, and wore his hat on the way home from school. I smile at this crying child, wishing I could say hey hey hey, what's all this noise for, but you can't, not around here anyway. 

So I watch as the young girl rocks the stroller furiously, back and forth trying to sooth the little one, whilst waiting for the cashier to complete her transaction. Within seconds, the young girl has walked off and its my turn to be served. I pay my bills and leave as quickly as I could, another minute in this post office/tat shop and I'm sure I'll be looking closely at one of the products of which I could buy for 5 pennies more from various pound stores.

I walk outside, past the hair & salon, that once was part of the post office/tat shop, long time ago when it was the hard wear shop. I walk past the cash machine and the cash machine bin that brings back memories of a ill bird, I walk a further 3 seconds and turn left into the local shop. I've not even got my second foot through the door before I hear two familiar noises.

One being that of the child who was clearly upset in the post office and the second being who I have presumed is his Mum. I pick up a newspaper and a small chilled bottle of Dr Pepper and make my way to the till, there is 1 person between me and the crying toddler with his Mum and 2 people serving on the tills. I scan the front page of my newspaper and can't help but overhear the young girl asking for 10 Mayfair. 

This girl's child has been crying for at least 15 minutes, apart from furiously rocking him back and forth in the buggy in the post office and raising her voice to him in a unpleasant way, this young girl has not tried in anyway to sooth her crying child. The child who has 1 sock, no shoes and no coat. I wonder in my head in the toddler is cold, maybe thirsty or even hungry. The lady in front of me buys her lotto ticket and its my turn to get served. Putting her ID back in her market style handbag, I watch as the girl and the toddler disappear out of the shop. I pay for my items and I myself leave the shop. 
I walk around the corner past the second set of shops, a betting shop, a newsagent, a chemist and a charity shop and notice the young girl and her toddler about 8 steps in front of me. Leant against the phone box door, she starts shouting at this child to shut up, all you do is whinge, give it a f'in rest whilst she straightens him up in his cheap and tacky stroller. We past the charity shop and I can't help but wonder if she got her stroller from there, not that there's anything wrong with second hand, but she could of at least got her baby a coat whilst there too.

I walk slowly to Spud's school, I have 15 minutes until he's due to finish and I hate waiting around in the cold. I call my friend to see where about's she is and arranged to meet her at the school gate. Still behind this young girl, I watch her puff away on a fag, still ignoring her crying child. The cold weather and me don't match, I despise it, I would even say I hate it, I can't help but wonder, but know this poor small child must be cold. The two little people are back on my shoulder, the devil on the right spurring me on to say something, your normally outspoken he's laughing away whilst jumping up and down with his devil stick with his horns stuck down to his head. Then on the left stands the Angel, the Angelic face you can not help but gaze at, she's telling me not too, do not get involved, I bite my tongue and carry on walking behind the girl and her crying baby.

I want to stop this girl and say is your child not cold, why has he not go no shoes on? The missing sock is not so much of a big issue, especially if he would have shoe's on. Its the middle of October and I myself am freezing, with extra flesh on my bones, being the big bird I am, I am still freezing. I can't, its not that easy, not around here anyway. I want to hand this girl a £10 note, I did have a £20, but I broke into it to pay for the newspaper and drink in the shop, but then I think, even if I do pick up the courage to stop and approach her, she'll surely be offended, but what if she's not and accepts the £10 I'm willing to give her for her baby. What if she doesn't spend it on him, the small child its intended for, what if she buys more cigarettes? Or even another cheapy made, cheaply sold made in China market handbag?

I'm 23 now, I've been an adult for years, although not legally in age, I've been an adult in my head, my ways of life. When I fount out I was pregnant with Spud, I made a sacrifice, my life was over but another was just beginning. My old life was over and my new one was just starting. I didn't make too many changes, as I was mature anyway, but any money I had, was saved and spent on my unborn baby, the same continued when he was born. Luckily I still lived at home until Spud was 18 months old, and did not have to pay any bills or food money. I know how lucky I was. 

When I moved into my own little family home and onto benefits I had to budget my money, prioritise what was important and anything left was mine to spend or mine to save. Sometimes I struggled and even had a few times where I had a hole in my cheaply made, cheaply brought, foreign made Primark dolly shoes. Luckily I was paid weekly, and in the rare circumstances, I'd only have to wait a matter of days until I would go and buy another pair of £4 dolly shoes.

No matter what get up I went around in, my son was always ALWAYS dressed suitably, if it was hot, he'd be dressed in cool clothes, nothing too suffocating with a sun hat. Smothered in sun cream with repeated doses depending on the heat, a parasol to keep the sun off his eyes, and always plenty to drink with 2 bottles and emergency supplies in my baby bag. In the cold, he'd be dressed with layers of clothing, thick socks or 2 pairs of normal socks, mittens/gloves, a coat, a woolly hat and at least 1 blanket, again drink and food supplies could be found in his baby bag.

I look back now to the past and look at our current situation and I pat my self on the back. Plump and just able to reach, I give myself a second round of patting myself on my back, I applause myself and damn well feel proud, for my baby has never been neglected, even for 30 minutes like the young girl and her child today. My baby has never gone cold, for spare clothes would of always be found in his baby bag, ok I didn't carry spare shoes, but socks yes, babies and children get messy, so does the clothing they wear.

I look around our home, although its just the two of us, we hold so many memories here, I am proud of what I have achieved, and I done it all alone. I've worked on and off, so I can't accept full credit, but living on benefits is not an easy lifestyle and one that I certainly could not afford luxuries on! I look at my various photo's, held in my favourite frames around the living room, each filled with photo's of a glowing, smiling boy, my boy. 

I think of his problems, although not major, still upsetting and not nice to deal with, how I wish I could have them for him, I think of how well I've done being a single Mum. I think of his school life, the education I continue to teach at home, I think of how well he's done and how proud he makes me feel. 

I remember the times he's accidentally fell over or been hurt by another child, I remember his little cry and the way I rushed to soothe him, not wanting my baby to be upset, stressed or red in the face from crying. I remember his birth, the first time I heard his welcoming cry, I remember holding him briefly before he was rushed out of the room to special care. Shh don't cry baby I whispered in his ear, a 4lb, 7 week premature bundle of joy, with his thick black hair and his stunning dark eyes, his wrinkly soft skin and the little face smiling, ssh baby, don't cry, Mummy's here.

That phase has come out of my mouth countless number of times over the years, for I want him to know I am here, his Mummy is there for him. I've never told Spud not to cry, ohh boys don't cry, what useless phrase is that! If we can't let our children cry and show their emotions, what are we teaching our children for when they are older? When they blossom into young adults themselves, mixed with emotions. I don't tell my child to shh, don't cry because he's a boy, that's sexist, it's sending out a message that boys can't cry but girls can, I don't tell my baby to ssh don't cry because he's making noise, I am saying ssh, whilst holding him and comforting him because his mummy is here.

I watch my son, who's now 7 sleeping next to me, mummified and attached waiting to be moved by me. He's sleeping in his fleecy pyjama's with a Mickey Mouse blanket placed loosley on top, I watch as his mouth rises and falls as he breaths in and out. I constantly check him to make sure he is not too hot, for the weather is cold and so are home's too, the heating is on 21 keeping our home at a nice warm temperature. 

I am guilty of something today, because I judged a fellow young mum, but sadly I am seeing much more often the stigma attached to us, through the eyes of an older mum, my eyes myself. I am now 23, still young yes, but I've been in this role for the last 7 years and 7 months of my life. I gave up the future I once looked forward too, and started a much better life for me and my son. 

I'm comfortable in life, and happy I don't have to budget benefit money, for I have been self employed a year this month. I look at the changes a job can make, how a little bit extra each week is really life changing. I thank myself for my warm relaxing home, the food in our kitchen, the water coming out of the taps and the electric we continue to use, because I pay it all. I thank myself for the beautiful son I have sleeping at my side, for his wonderful personality and his gorgeous charming smile, I thank myself for his respect, his values, his morals, because I helped form them. 

Children only learn from what's around them, if they are being brought up by un-experienced parents who are not willing to change their lives for parenthood, they sadly have no little hope.

I am Unique Young Mum, the girl who gave birth at the age of 15 but the girl who has proved so many wrong. I will forever be known as a teenage mother, for I gave birth so young. I would not change my life for the world, and I am proud to tell my stories, proud of myself, for getting both myself and my son to where we both are today.

Jada xx


  1. I am judged because I'm an older mum and had my son at 38, I'm also judged because I'm overweight. I don't think it is anything unique to young mums that they are judged..... I will be volunteering at my local children's centre soon and I have met a lot of the young mums there and a high percentage of them are great mums who take great care of their children. I have seen a couple of mums like the one you saw in the post office and I have seen some older mums that aren't so great either.... you are not judging her on her age, you are concerned that her son is not being cared for properly which is completely natural when you are a loving and caring mother. If that child had been in that state and with a mum who was in her 40s you would still be of the opinion that the child was not being cared for properly and quite rightly so. I have learned in my life not to judge or generalise because everyone is different and everyone comes from a different background. Some people who have had a difficult family life find it hard to break that cycle an go on to be terrible parents... some have the strength to break that cycle and despite financial hardship provide their kids with the love and care they deserve. It is hard not to react to what we see, and you had concern for that child which shows how caring you are. I would never judge people by what they had, what they were wearing or what spend money on... but there is no excuse for taking your child out unsuitably dressed in the cold and no excuse for speaking to your child like that.... I'm not perfect and I've had moments where my son drives me mad and I have raised my voice and at times lost my temper out of frustration but then afterwards I have apologised and made sure my son realises that mummy is wrong to shout. None of us are perfect but we can all provide the basic love, care and understanding that our children deserve, it doesn't cost a penny.

  2. Hi, I'm sorry to say I do the exact same thing. My daughter is the same age as your son, I was 24 when I had her and I always make sure that if money is tight I go without to make sure she has what she needs. I hate seeing mum's of any age coming out dressed appropriately with the best of everything and their children being the complete opposite. I know we shouldn't judge but having always put my daughter first, like you do with your son, I find it hard to understand parents who don't.