Healthy Teen Network Conference- #NoTeenShame in Austin

On Tuesday, October 21st, the #NoTeenShame mamas descended upon Austin, Texas to recieve the Spirit of Service award at the Healthy Teen Network conference. We traveled from Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Mexico, Florida, & California.  Night one: We spent the evening getting to know each other better, as it was the first time all of us have been together in one place! Up until this point, the majority of our collaboration has been mainly through innovative virtual platforms, and late night conference calls.

From left to right: Marylouise, Natasha, Consuela, Gloria, Lisette, Jasmine, Christina

From left to right:
Marylouise, Natasha, Consuela, Gloria, Lisette, Jasmine, Christina

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6th street shenanigans. Bonding w/ the Zoltor.

6th street shenanigans. Bonding w/ the Zoltor.

Out on the town

Out on the town

Day Two: We were treated to a delicious luncheon, and were presented with a beautiful award which we briefly entertained shipping from coast to coast every year, ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ style so that each of us gets a chance to house it. In the afternoon, we were able to get in a productive strategic planning session, where we outlined our goals & steps for the future, among other things. Evening came with the chance to explore the city, feast on some amazing food, visit the State Capitol, and get a taste of the 6th street night life. There may or may not have been some bull riding.

#NoTeenShame be like...

Spirit of Service award, Healthy Teen Network conference

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From left to right: Christina Martinez, Marylouise Kuti, Natasha Vianna, Pat Paluzzi, Consuela Greene, Lisette Orellana, Jasmin Colon, & Gloria Malone

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My big cheesy happy smile

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Marylouise ❤

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Our awesome name tags

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Strategic planning session in full affect

Strategic planning session in full affect

It's work, but it's fun work

It’s work, but it’s fun work

We also to manage to get in a small group therapy session. Some tissues were needed :)

We also to managed to get in a small group therapy session. Some tissues were needed 🙂

We kinda like taking pictures

We kinda like taking pictures

Strategic planning session moved downstairs because, food.

Strategic planning session moved downstairs because, food.

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Marylouise + Twitter

Some selfies were taken...

Some selfies were taken…

Okay, who am I kid

Okay, who am I kidding. Lots of selfies were taken.

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Sisterhood ❤

At the State Capitol

At the State Capitol

So exciting!

#NoTeenShame be like…

Living up to Ideals

The tick, tick, tick of the biological clock...

The tick, tick, tick of the biological clock…

So, this past week Gallup released a poll revealing that 58% of Americans said that the ideal age for childbearing is  25 or younger. Enter,  social media debates. For days now, I’ve watched my newsfeed explode in response to this survey, and I braced myself for the argument I’ve come to know well. The one that suggests that the older a woman is, the better parent she will be. “Do you even remember what you were DOING at age 25?!” screamed one irate blogger. “I’ll give you a hint…think round the clock parties, frat-boy chasing, and all around debauchery!”

Pardon me, but do you know what I was doing at 25? Giving birth to my 3rd child. By choice, I might add.  So while some of you made  habit of stumbling home from clubs at 2 am, some of us were in the routine of nursing our infants back to sleep during that un-godly hour. It’s all good…don’t judge my lifestyle and I won’t look critically upon yours. To each her own, right? And don’t you dare for a second feel sorry for me, or my children. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m pretty sure— based on the way my children happily embrace their lives every day— that they wouldn’t change it either.

My first child was born when I was 17, and my last at age 30, and I can tell you this much…that feeling of protectiveness and profound dedication to each one of my children was the same as a teen as it was a grown woman, once they were placed in my arms all squalling and naked and helpless. And it’s here that I always feel as if I have to add a side note: the one that assures the reader that my children are socially well-adjusted, empathetic, scholarly young citizens in the making. And even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that the age of their mother was a contributing factor to their hypothetical failure to thrive  (But that’s another topic in and of itself).

These kinds of polls serve no purpose, really, except to stir up a slew of debates that are constantly circulating in the world of motherhood. Debates on age, education, financial stability, marital status, and how these play into the public perception of the “ideal” parent.

It’s provocative to say that, biologically speaking, the ideal age to have a child is at 17 when a women’s  body is at the peak of its fertility. In terms of social parameters, no one would go out on a limb and declare that having a child at 17 is a good idea. But all that aside, it’s impossible to pinpoint a perfect age for one to embark on this amazing journey called parenthood. Perhaps you weren’t ready to set your life aside for another when you were 25. Consider for a minute that some of us were. And maybe think about that the next time you go spewing your ageist notions of who the ideal parent is, for the rest of us to hear.