Olivyah Bowens posted a picture of herself and her daughter. In the picture, Olivyah sported a “I’m over it” face and her 2-year-old daughter, Ozara, was doing the one thing all moms dislike - crying. Olivyah started the now-famous caption with, “No one teaches you how to love a child you didn’t plan to have.” As you continue reading, you’ll find the lines “It’s hard. Looking at a beautiful baby and being bogged down by the thoughts of how you will take care of them and how much life will change.” and “The reality is I don’t want to be a mother every day.” While some praised & thanked her for sharing such a personal part of herself, others criticized her & accused her of not loving her babies. And that’s where the issue is.
Life can be a huge challenge because the world is full of rules, regulations, & laws, that are bent and twisted day in and day out. On top of those seemingly unshakeable issues, we live with and around people that feel they have the right to hold us to their unspoken (and very personal) standards. Judgements based on body image, social class, and race are just a few of the things we all inevitably deal with, so why make the load heavier for those that simply want to share their truth?
Like Olivyah, I was young when I had my daughter. I was a 15-year-old senior in high school. I was what some call a ‘baby having a baby’. I was looked at funny, scorned, and even publicly embarrassed & humiliated by some of my own family members. It was rough.
In that time, my sense of self-love was nonexistent and depression was stuck on me like white on rice. The idea, thought, and or attempt to love my sweet little girl was far from my mind because I was desperately trying to figure out what was actually happening in my life. I went from being excited to apply to Ivy League colleges & being the youngest of my graduating class to being a depressed, young mom with very little motivation to even get out of bed in the morning. I was hurting, confused, & scared and I felt like I was going through every bit of it on my own.
As time went by, I matured & gained more confidence and my daughter continued to grow. My love for her grew just as my love for myself did.
I realized that it was a process. I wanted to love my babygirl but, at that time, I didn’t know how. Some of the people that were criticizing Olivyah probably never had this experience. She was called selfish, asked why she didn’t consider adoption, and more. But, most likely, those very people haven’t been through a similar experience. What people fail to realize is that we speak our truth & tell our stories for those coming after us that may go through similar situations. We want to drop some wisdom & encourage those that don’t know how to love themselves or their babies but want and are doing their best to. Criticism and negativity does nothing but distract from the real issues & necessities that need attention so why feed precious time and energy into things that are undeserving?
I personally want to thank Olivyah because, until I read her story, I was very hesitant of sharing my experience. Having a child at such a young age was devastating for me but it’s made me into the person I am so I’ll be forever grateful for the experience. I’m happy I didn’t listen to those that pushed adoption & abortion on me because my sweet Gemma has blessed me in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. I’m happy I remained receptive to the life lessons & love that came (and are still coming!) with motherhood. And just as Olivyah, and many mothers before her, pushed through the criticism, negativity, and adversity, I’ll do the same so I can continue to uplift the mothers coming after me. It truly does take a village and I’ll be damned before I stop combatting those that want to tear this village down.
To see more of Olivyah Bowens (and adorable Ozara!), follow her on Instagram @herholisticpath.