Let’s talk about sex, baby…

Aged 23, with a child galloping towards his third birthday, I am classed as a young mum. Not only due to the maths involved, but I also have the disadvantage of looking younger. I was one month clear of being a ‘teen mum’ when I fell pregnant with Sam, and as the title comes with such bad connotations, I’m afraid I’ve often defended myself with the phrase ‘well at least I wasn’t a teen mum’!

The truth is, though; everyone matures at different rates. Although at 16/17 I could have been officially classed as a ‘woman’; having hit puberty a few years previous; I was much closer to being a ‘girl’ than to being what I would personally perceive as a ‘woman’. I kept a journal at that age, and, reading back, it is impossible to imagine that version of myself looking after another human being. I wasn’t a goody-two-shoes but I certainly wasn’t a rebel; so whilst a hypothetical child wouldn’t come to know the detriment of a mother who drank heavily/took drugs/shoplifted,etc., he/she would have a mother who had very little idea about herself or the world around her. I had no responsibilities at that age, and to go from nothing…to then having the responsibility of a newborn child’s life…well, I would have fallen apart and that poor kid would have been caught in the middle.

As it happened, I fell pregnant, aged 20 (just). Three years seems like a flash in the pan once you are older, but the difference between 17 year old me and 20 year old me was unfathomably vast. I am not saying this shift in maturity necessarily comes at the same time for everyone; I expect many of those who leave school at 16 reach the stage that I was at when I left school at 18. Schools can be seen as many things, but, especially the type of school I went to, there is no doubt that they shroud you from real life.

An enviable few don’t let age define them, but especially in the earlier years of our lives, age is not just a number; but almost a status. Throughout your school years there are milestones to be reached; milestones that have to coincide with the changing of that magic number. When you start nursery, when you move up to the next class, when school becomes compulsory, when you must move on to a more senior school, when you sit exams. The hour at which you are allowed to eat is dependent on your age; the number of hours of homework you are expected to complete. Age is hugely important in school.

We also have laws that are based on age. In England, you mustn’t have sex until you are 16, you can’t hold a driving licence until you are 17, you do not legally become an adult and can’t vote until you reach 18 (which is also the age when you are allowed to purchase alcohol), and at 21 you have an excuse for a big party…but I’m not entirely sure why. There’s also an age for buying cigarettes but as the rebel-failure that I am, I have no idea when kids can stop flashing their fake ID, and instead legally purchase those little sticks of coolness (I expect that is also the age when the coolness of smoking starts its sharp decline).

Ages are also used when deciding which group of people can watch a film or buy a video game. There are sites on the internet that require you to promise that you are over 16 or 18 (and no, not just porn sites – don’t look at me with those scornful eyes!).

It is good to have guidelines in order to protect younger people from decisions that can’t be sensibly made until they come close to whichever magic number has been set, and I understand that to follow through with these guidelines, rules must be strictly upheld. But although the magic number might make sense for the majority of cases, for other people, the magic number is too high or far too low.

There were girls my age who were already having sex at the time that my friend was boasting about having three pubes. And, while those girls were no doubt busy having sex, there were girls (ok; one girl) who wrote in her diary ‘***** was boasting today about having three pubes. HA! I have way more.’ Your level of maturity is based so much more on your upbringing, and that wonderful friend-to-all: Puberty (which can strike at any time), than how old you actually are.

The ‘16+ ONLY’ rule for sex, also comes with a number of other rules (all of which are taken as seriously as the age rule by some). You should only have sex when you are emotionally ready. You should only have sex when you are ready to deal with the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. You should only have sex when you are in love. You should only have sex when you are married.

Are any of us fully able to say we are emotionally equipped to deal with sex and all the disappointment and heartbreak that could potentially come with it? Perhaps this does not apply so much with married couples, but how many women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. are able to have a sexual encounter without feeling emotional about it one way or the other, sooner or later?

How can you ever know you are emotionally ready to have sex? No matter how old you are, ‘losing it’ for the first time is likely to be a dramatic, memorable moment in your life (or not, I suppose, if it first happened after heavy drinking…but even then, the lack of memory about something so huge is likely to have an effect on you). There are few people who can say they really and truly were emotionally ready; that the experience didn’t have some sort of effect on them. And there might be those who felt nothing when they lost their virginity, because they didn’t have the maturity at that stage to comprehend what a big step in their lives it was to open up their body so intimately to someone else, and they felt it further on down the line.

Prepared for the consequences of having a baby? This ‘rule’ might have been upheld in days gone by, but I personally don’t know that many people who would have initially embraced the thought of a baby when they first lost their virginity. The Married rule is a nice idea, but is kept by fewer and fewer people these days.

So, onto love..

I first chose to have sex when I was a couple of weeks off turning 19. It was only a month or so into a relationship with my first Real Boyfriend, but I was at uni…and I hate to use this as an excuse, but it seemed everyone was doing it. When having sex is considered the norm, the importance of ‘waiting’ shrinks significantly. In my naïve little way, I thought I had shared so much with him already that the Next Big Step was just one more step along the way to our future happiness together. Despite the brevity of time, our relationship was already strong (at the start of university you have to make your new best friends in the first couple of hours; so FIVE WHOLE WEEKS into our relationship (even longer since we first met – if you can imagine that immensity of time) seemed like a lifetime together). I had decided I was in love with him, and, having had nothing but fleeting crushes before, I had nothing to compare it to. Was I actually in love? I don’t know whether I can judge that. I thought I was at the time; and isn’t that what counts? I think love is different to different people, at different stages in their life.

I don’t regret it; we stayed together for over a year and split just before I found out I was pregnant with his son (cheeky chappy Sam).

But looking back, it is impossible for me to agree with my former self that I WAS actually in love with him. We were not well matched in the slightest, and disagreed on what I see as some of the most fundamental things in life. I really disliked some quite major aspects of his character, but somehow liked the fact I disliked them – he was mine, and I had decided I would love him regardless. They say love is blind…and if it wasn’t for the fact I question the presence of love, I would agree. I had decided I had fallen in love with him; and that was that. Full stop. Anything new I found out about him from that stage on did not matter to me in the slightest. I sound bitter, and indeed I am a little at my lack of judgement, and my ability to carry on with our relationship when it was clear to everyone around us that it was not right. I clung on tighter as we grew further apart and (thankfully – I can say that retrospectively) I think that is what ultimately buried the hatchet in our relationship. All that said, we had some fantastic times together, and, apart from a couple of incidents, he really was the loveliest boyfriend, and I count myself lucky that my first real boyfriend treated me well.

I will leave this post here (apart from anything else, I have just noticed how much Cardboardeaux I’ve sipped my way through this evening, and I am a little wary of what else I might divulge, and what I have already written that, sober, I would be horrified at).

One day in the far distant future, I will let Sam this blog, and I wonder how I will feel about him reading this post? I don’t want to give him the impression that losing his virginity is something that should happen on a whim; certainly not. I don’t know much about the opposite sex and how the male mind works, but I am willing to guess teenage boys aren’t as heartless and sex crazy as the media (and doubtless his peers) make out. Sex is a big deal for anyone at any age, and it confounds the problem that sex first becomes an interesting topic at puberty when your hormones are all over the place.

I hope that I will have a good communication with him; I am all for sharing feelings (you may have noticed I do far too much of it). I really hope that I am able to provide an easy forum for him to voice his opinions and what he is worried about; I think that once that block goes up with someone, it is really hard to knock it down.

How much do you think your age has played a part in things you’ve done? Or is age just a number?

7 Comments

  1. Age is just a number. I think being young at heart has helped me with raising my kids tremendously. I love watching cartoons with them. Doing art projects together. I get excited watching them get excited in a candy shop.

    I do have to remind myself of my real age sometimes. I hang out with younger people who are mature for their age. I do film/photo projects that really require someone younger but I’m the only one available. But in my heart, I still feel twenty-something. And that is how I choose to go through life.

    I think you are handling your responsibilities with a great mix of maturity and fun and I really enjoy reading your blog. Good luck!

    • Thank you, I am very flattered!

      I think it’s all about balance when it comes to kids – if you can’t share their excitement in the little things then you could find yourself continually bored…but you obviously have to have a certain level of maturity just to get through the day. Some days I revert to my childish ways a little too well and find that we have lunch two hours late because I was too immersed in being a pirate!

      I spend most of my time with people who are older than me – I think my mum friends range from 28-40, but it’s not often that I notice a difference between us. The girls my age that I went to school with or university are all on a completely different life track to me (a more advisable one really!), and I find it stranger to compare myself to them. Sometimes I feel decades older – oh to be young again and have only have to worry about yourself! – but a lot of the time I feel like the immature one – they’re off, making their fortunes, seeing places and experiencing new things…and I spend my days pretending to be a fireman, and looking forward with glee to that time in the afternoon when we can sit down to some good ol’ children’s telly! They’re at the end of the phone to support me emotionally, and as I never feel like I provide the same service back, it’s almost as if they have to ‘mummy’ me!

  2. Red

    Age is definitely just a number for me personally, yet it is not for many of the people I choose for friends. I find myself drawn to older people, who wonder how I manage to have a cogent conversation with my teens and children, for they haven’t the patience for either.

    I think you have it down,
    Red.
    xxx

    • Thanks Red, I always seem to be discussing age with you! Without meaning to, I seem to have made it a regular topic in my blog. Not sure why as it doesn’t have much of an effect on my daily life, but I suppose the ‘you’re so young to be a mother’ has become ingrained due to constant comments from my family.

      I think you do well to stay on the same wavelength as your teens and children. I seem to be limited to adults and toddlers. Teenagers I cringe at, knowing I’m not that many years on from them, and wondering whether that is really how I used to behave. When I’m with children I feel like I’m being judged – ‘let’s see if she really IS a good mum’ – and I know I fail on all accounts because I just don’t know how to gauge what they’re interested in…I have no knowledge of children beyond the exact age Sam happens to be. And babies…well, I have proudly held the title of ‘The Baby Whisperer’ for a while – used to have some sort of magic touch with them which I highly valued, despite not understanding! But recently…babies scare me! It’s the fact that Sam can communicate his every need/worry that’s done it: now babies seem unfathomable creatures – why on earth do they cry when nothing seems wrong?! It appears that my sieve-like memory has also caused all knowledge of babies to trickle out of my brain!

  3. claireg

    Hmmm good question. I guess when you are younger, age plays a major part in your life. I can hear myself now saying “Im 15″ or “Im 18″ or even “Im 10″ announcing it with pride like it was something fantastic to have achieved. But for me, after about 25 the importance/significance of age dwindled away as I think once you are officially an Adult (which i think is more around 25, for me anyway. None of this 18 and your an adult, classed by law business. 18 is still a kid in my book)! Then many things age related don’t seem to apply anymore and most of the major milestones i.e. loosing your virginity, drinking, marriage, kids etc have already been achieved. However I must say, Age has always hung over me in the sense that, Im never very sure how Im supposed to act for my age. I often feel like I ought to portray myself as a little bit more mature, authoritative, sophisticated or something to that effect. And I often compare myself to others my age and wonder whether they are coming off better than me in terms of acting their age?! But then again if age is just a number then I should just continue to be Me and forget about trying to behave in a manner thats specific to my age. as there is no specific way to behave at 30 and then at 31 and so on…!

    Good blog, hun. And you’re doing amazing with Sam, hope I can see him read this one day, you’ll make him proud x

    • I love that you’ve chosen 25 as the magic number – I’m 24 this year; does that mean I’m still a child compared to you, Mrs Old Fogey, at the grand old age of 30?!

      Yep, I really do compare myself too much to others. I’ve never really thought of it as ‘maturity’ (though I suppose that’s exactly what it is), but I’m always seeing how much more ‘sussed’ other mums seem to be, and how many things they’ve ticked off the Life Plan list…actually, the simple fact they seem to have a life plan! I am lacking on the Life Plan, and lacking on pretty much any planning altogether; I really do admire people who know what they’re doing for the whole week; and the next; and the next. I’d like to think my playing it by ear day-to-day is a sign of spontaneity, but it is purely based on my disorganisation. If there’s anything that would make me feel more mature, it would be bringing my organisational skills up to scratch! And getting mesen a life plan…and not changing it every couple of days. Haven’t seen you since, what, Monday? Already got a few more genius plans up my sleeve! (which I will change as soon as I’ve said them out loud!)

      Aww thanks chucky. I really hope I do make him proud one day – it won’t be from a little journal I happen to write online…but I hope someday I’ll discover the ting that WILL make him proud, and that’ll make me proud of myself too! Love you xxx

  4. claireg

    Ha ha honestly your age never even entered my heard when I wrote my previous message. I forget how old you are as I feel like we’re round about the same age. But no I dont see you as a child just because you are under 25 LOL. I guess that just goes to show that what I wrote above obviously doesnt make any sense whatsoever?!?! Though to justify it a bit, I would say you seem older than you are; you carry yourself very well and can easily hold your own and you seem to know who you are. It takes most people longer than 23/24 years to reach those kind of personal achievements!!! xx

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