Motherhood. It's a concept my peers have deemed the most out of my reach. I've been dubbed an aloof babysitter and of having limited maternal instincts, and to a point, maybe my peers were right. I've steadily remained rooted in the garden of twenties-dom—but have witnessed my friends and colleagues all become consumed by the enigma of young motherhood that has dominated our social media feeds as of late. Regardless of intent, they're commenting on who has the cutest child, who has it altogether, who is truly happy versus who is going to ruin their lives. The non-mothers judge the mothers while the mothers judge each other. But who truly has the right to determine what makes up the perfect matriarch?
Out of the sea of current mothers and mommy's-to-be on my Facebook feed, I decided to interview a FB friend of mine, Tina Teresa Hixson-Backes. Out of every mother I know, she seemed (to me) the one person who hadn't forfeited her original personality (which in one word was badass) once she stepped into her new roles of mother and wife. In actuality, I learned Tina's essence was only enhanced, which she explains further in her Q&A with CIRCUS below.
Describe how you felt when you first found out you were pregnant.
When I first found out i was pregnant I was in disbelief. I had taken 6 pregnancy tests before I finally accepted that I was pregnant. After that followed a short period of sadness because I was unsure of what would become of the dreams that my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I had planned for ourselves to achieve. Then followed extreme nervousness and fear because of the fact that i had never raised a child and I could barely even take care of myself. Questions like "Am I even fit to be a parent?" filled my head. I knew there was a defenseless child on their way into this world and they are counting on me for safety, guidance, compassion, affection, etc. The amount of responsibility that was instantly put on my shoulders was very intimidating. After a few weeks I finally accepted the responsibility and started becoming excited and curious about what my child would be like and what our road ahead would be filled with.
How would your relationship be different if you had not chosen to be married? How did you and your husband decide to go towards the path of marriage?
It's hard to imagine how different our relationship would have been if we had not gotten married. We are definitely both firm believers of the word family, so when we found out I was pregnant we knew there wasn't only things in our life that we needed to sort out for the baby, but also things we needed to sort out in our relationship for our FAMILY. I was blessed to have gotten pregnant by someone that held the same family values as I do, this day in age most females my age are not so fortunate. "Marriage" can be a scary word because it means forever. But it doesn't have to be as scary if you know you're with a person that can be your rock, your fire, your best friend, your teammate, etc. Don't get me wrong marriage is not all fairy tales and sunshine, but it is definitely worth it. Marriage is less about you and more about your future. Can you see them raising your children? Do they put themselves second for your benefit, and do you put yourself second for theirs? Do they benefit to what your future goals are or do theirs clash with yours? Are they capable of compromising with you and working through problems or do they just seem stuck in their ways? Marriage is a two way street and not about you or your spouse it's about a TEAM. Not everyone our age is ready to to see these things or think this way so that's why their are so many young marriages that fail because they go into it with false pretenses. But after a few conversations we decided it was definitely a path we want to go down. We knew that we would definitely end up getting married in the future so we decided to just skip the delays and do it before the baby was born.
What do you think more young women need to know about young motherhood? What would you advise?
I think young women need to know that being a young mother is definitely not for everyone. Motherhood at such a young age requires a complete transformation of the mind's maturity. There's no more parties every weekend, no more living life on your own schedule, no more careless decision making, no more doing spontaneous, wild, young adult things. You have to grow up and get your act together. Life is no longer just about YOU, which i think is sometimes hard for people my age to accept. Parenting is definitely not a negative experience and there is definitely nothing wrong with going out every now and then, i just think too many women my age are ending up with children and are not being able to follow through with the responsibilities that come along with having a child because they still want to live "young, wild, and free", and their children are paying the price for it. Motherhood is very rewarding and an incredibly beautiful experience, and if you are blessed with such an experience then it should not be taken for granted. My advice to young women who are pregnant is do not be selfish. You are about to be blessed with a beautiful soul who needs love, affection, understanding, attention, etc. Give them what they need and put your wants second. They will look up to you and love you like you have never been loved before, please don't neglect that. And my advice to young women who are already mothers, is to have patience and never expect anything from your child. I know it can be hard sometimes, but the moment you expect something from someone who knows nothing, life can get frustrating real fast. When you feel yourself getting frustrated just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it's okay, everything is fine, and your child isn't intentionally trying to frustrate you. Having no patience can make life miserable for both you and the child. And remember, it's okay to put down your phone or turn off the TV and pay attention to your little one.
How has being married and having a child affected your relationships with your friends and your family?
Being married and having a child has definitely affected my relationships with family and friends, especially because of my age. My friends and I have polar opposite lives. They're still dating, partying, working,going to school, and most of them still have never lived anywhere but their parents house. So as you can imagine our stresses and worries are a bit different and hold different extremes, so it's harder to relate to each other's realities. Old friends of mine want me to do the things we used to do together and the majority of the time that just isn't deemed appropriate for me to do anymore. Not to mention most of the time they seem bored when I try to vent them my stresses because it's nothing they have felt yet, and I often feel bored of their stresses because I feel that i have surpassed that stage in my life and am ready to move forward. I actually have just drawn back on friendships at the moment, it just seems like it's to hard to connect with the ones I used to. Another hard point is the fact that i chose to breast feed so I basically have to plan my day around my son's schedule and when he will be hungry and tired, for me it almost feels like it would be more of a hassle than a good time to try to plan hang out times. If I do hang out with people it's my family members, friends will come later on. As far as family goes i feel that our relationships have grown stronger and I get taken more seriously for the most part. On the other hand, some extended family often judges us and some decisions we make. Mostly my decision to be a stay at home mom and my husband's decision to not give up on his dream of becoming a musician. So family relationships have both strengthened and have give family members more room for judgement and negativity. The relationship I feel that has grown the most is with my mother, she has done so much for me and really made sure I know she's there for me. We have never been so close.
How has motherhood and marriage affected you as a whole? Your personality, your outlook on life, on society, etc?
Motherhood has definitely affected me positively. Everything that left me frustrated and sad in the past makes sense now. All the broken hearts, etc. I now truly believe everything happens for a reason. As far as my outlook on society goes i feel like it went from anger to fear and concern. I didn't really care before it was kinda like a "middle fingers in the air" type attitude. Now i know that anything that goes on now directly affects the future of my children and grandchildren, so now i'm more willing to fight for what's right instead of just silently being angry. My outlook on life has been brightened. My heart is full of such peace, when things are going wrong i can tell myself it will get better and actually believe it. I used to be so sad, angry, and emotional now I can't help but to be happy and positive about life and where i'm headed. Becoming a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Did you ever feel any sort of backlash from peers because of your life decisions?
TH: I actually do get a lot of backlash from peers about my life decisions I made, the most notorious one being marriage at my young age. It amazes me how hard people try to convince me that I am wrong for doing so. I'm not quite sure what they expect to come of their rants to me. Are they hoping I will pack my bags, leave my family, and go live my life the way they insist I live it? It seems kind of silly how worked up they get about it. Marriage is not for everyone, especially at this age, but it works for me and it's what I have chosen. To each their own.
Being an aunt, I've seen my siblings' character change as they mature into parenthood. Do you feel any part of your "self" has morphed since becoming a parent? Is there a difference between 'Tina' and "Tina, the mother"?
TH: The difference between 'Tina' and 'Tina the mother' is incredible. I went from barely being able to care of myself, only cleaning my room once every 3 months, to suddenly having to take care of myself, my son, clean a house, cook every meal, care for a husband, and the list goes on. It was hard figuring it out at first, my hygiene definitely was lacking during the first few weeks of my son's life. Finally one morning I woke up and looked at the sink full of dishes and looked in the mirror at my oily hair and realized no one is going to do any of this for me, this is the real world now, I am an adult and my son is counting on me to get myself and our environment together. It's time to grow up and take up my responsible role as a parent and adult. I am so much more put together as a person, and am able to take charge of my life. I went from being the wild rebel, to the responsible parent. I have still kept the roots of my rebellious attitude, but have put a twist on it. I am no longer simply fighting the world away, i am now fighting the world's negativity and representing my family in everything i do.
What would your ideal life look like in the next five years?
My ideal plan for the next five years of life is to have another child in the next two to three years. We also currently live with my mother-in-law so we are taking the time now to be able to save and plan so once baby number two comes in a few years hopefully we will be settling into a house of our own. Once child number two reaches about 3 years of age I plan on starting to take the steps needed to start advancing towards my dream career, then once child number two starts school I will fully pursue my career. It can be tough having a child at this age because depending on your situation you can't always pursue your dreams right away. I have often become discouraged and impatient seeing my peers becoming successful and making their dream careers a reality. But I have finally come to an understanding that I don't have to give up on my dreams, I am just putting them on hold. Their time is now, mine is later. My husband and I both believe it's best for the children's well being to be able to spend the day with a parent rather than a babysitter. Although not all mothers my age have that option I have been blessed with a man that will stay by my side and make sure I will be able to. We will struggle financially now, but financially prosper later. If needed, I plan on doing little DIY projects to sell to make a little money on the side in the meantime.
—interview curated by BIANCA BETANCOURT