Dancing Like We're 22

Have you heard this new Taylor Swift song "22"? Also, did I really just begin a post with "have you heard this new Taylor Swift song?" Yes. Yes, I did.

Chaunie from Tiny Blue Lines shared the video on her Facebook page then followed it up with this blog where she shares a different view of 22, that of young motherhood. And along the way she calls Swift's portrayal of 22 ridiculous and ends the post with a "take that, Taylor." Then Hannah from Supermommy...Or Not took Taylor down another notch in her post, while simultaneously lumping together most people in their early-twenties as selfish party animals.

And honestly, I was a little disappointed with what I read. I'm not much into the Taylor-bashing, even if she is generalizing 22 in a way we don't all relate to. Because not everyone relates to being a mother at 22 either.

Don't get me wrong. I love hearing stories of young motherhood. I appreciate the support and camaraderie of the young mom community. But all too often I find that in the midst of sharing why being a young mom is so great, we're taking jabs at our childless peers. It's not always intentional, but an "us" versus "them" tone arises when we juxtapose the experience of being a young mom with being your "average" 22-year-old. We wax poetic about how nothing compares to bringing a new life into the world. We tell the world that motherhood has transformed us into better, kinder human beings. We tout our maturity, resilience, stability, sense of purpose, responsible nature and more.

Then we sometimes pile our childless peers into a generalized group of carefree, narcissistic, partying, by the book Generation Y-ers. We point a judgmental finger in their faces and start talking like old folks. "Back when I was 22, we didn't get to do keg stands and wear fabulous cat-eared headbands. There was no casual dating or fancy clothing or late night soirees. No, siree. My 22 was marriage and being covered in vomit and walking the halls at night with a colicky baby. That is real life, my friends." 

We're pushing our experience on our peers and telling them how much harder our lives are. But so much more worthwhile. We're saying our lives are better, more meaningful than theirs.

Maybe it's just our way of justifying our lifestyle. Because we feel judged or ostracized for choosing young motherhood (or having it unexpectedly choose us). Maybe we're overcompensating in the telling of our stories because we feel like we have something to prove. But where does it end? When do we stop pitting ourselves against our peers because they get to experience grad-school without a baby and start their careers before walking down the aisle? When they become parents themselves? Is that the only way we deem others worthy?

I hope not.

I hope we can come around and embrace the different lifestyles of our peers. That we can cheer on our childless friends as they pursue their dreams and goals, just as we would hope to be cheered on in our pursuits. I hope we can encourage the student who is moving to a new place without friends or family to get her MFA. The one who is working two jobs to afford an apartment in the city. The one living with her parents while tackling a double-major. The one busting her ass at an unpaid internship. Even the one living out that Taylor Swift music video. And maybe we can allow them all the occasional keg stand without judgement. This is what 22 looks like too.

And personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with dancing like we're 22, whether that means throwing your hands in the air to a boombox blaring poolside or swinging your hips to a lullaby with a new babe in arms. Or anything in between. It's your dance, after all.