‘Australia’s youngest parents’ now have two kids under two
THE concept of being a teen mum makes many people's heads spin.
The idea of having two children under the age of two when you are just 16 years of age is almost inconceivable.
But that's exactly what Melbourne teen Molly Syrigos has done.
Mollie made headlines in 2016 when she fell pregnant at the age of 13, making her one of Australia's youngest mothers.
She is now mum to Theodore (almost 2), and in December gave birth to her second child, daughter Delilah Lilli.
Her partner and father of the two children, Oscar Wilks, is also 16 years of age.
At the time of discovering Mollie's second pregnancy, they said they were excited about the new addition to their family, though it wasn't planned.
"I know it will be a huge challenge but I'm prepared for that challenge. When you love something so much challenges sort of make you stronger and I'm ready for the challenges and very excited for the new baby to come," Mollie told Nine.com.au.
They have become somewhat used to their young lives being dictated by babies.
"We can't go to the movies like typical teenage couples would," Mollie told Today Tonight.
"We barely get to watch a movie at home, let alone go out to watch one … but I wouldn't change it."
With the new baby comes another wave of judgment from friends, family and strangers on social media.
Recalling her first pregnancy, Mollie told the Herald Sun that the most hurtful response came from friends.
One mocked the Facebook announcement of their pregnancy by posting: "Hahaha."
In the early days, before Mollie did a test and discovered she was pregnant at 13, she thought she had a bout of gastro. It was actually morning sickness and, she says, all the signs were there that she was pregnant.
She and Oscar were together when the pregnancy test kit showed up two stripes clearly.
"Is it possible that second stripe will disappear in a moment?" Oscar asked her.
"No, this means I'm pregnant," Mollie told him.
The two say they were using contraceptives at the time she conceived.
Mollie says when Oscar found out she was pregnant he completely panicked: both his hands clutched his head and he paced back and forth, digesting how some of his conservative relatives would take the news.
("In fact, some of my cousins still haven't talked to me," he says.)
But once the news settled within his own mind, Oscar knew he wanted to support Mollie and their child.
"We're doing fine. We're terrific parents, but domestically we're not great housekeepers," he says.
Tim, his dad, agrees. After Theodore was born the young family lived with him in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. "They're messy, but they're teenagers," he says.
He didn't expect grandfatherhood for a decade from any of his three children - especially his youngest by six years.
He gulped when he learned the couple were having a baby. Perhaps he shouldn't have been surprised. They'd been living together at his house for six months after they met through mutual friends when they were both 12.
Mollie had some passing teenage conflict with her single mum and left home; Oscar admits he took "advantage a bit" of his dad's fragile health.
"I knew he wouldn't be able to come in and beat our door down," he says of Tim, who is still mobile but suffers from multiple sclerosis.
After Mollie found out she was pregnant with Theodore, she started working at Tim's frozen yoghurt shop. Oscar worked there too.
For weeks she felt the pressure from some friends, family and doctors to have an abortion.
She would disappear into the work toilets and cry. Almost everyone was telling her to terminate her pregnancy. But she refused.
Mollie's high school studies stalled at the end of year 7.
After having her first child, Mollie started back at school, at Swinburne University of Technology's secondary school classes for young mothers.
If Mollie hadn't have fallen pregnant, she'd have been starting Year 11. (Oscar says she's a "genius" and will go a long way.)
"I don't really know specifically what I want to do, but I do want to keep up my education," she says.
"Though baby number two will throw a bit of a spanner in the works, for the time being any way."
Oscar is now a full time apprentice worker. He has some advice for other teenagers.
"Look, if I had anything to say about being so young and having a baby, it would be this - hold on to your childhood as long as you can," Oscar says. "If it happens and you become a parent, just be the best parent you can be."
As for more children, Mollie is adamant that two is it (for now):
"Two down, no more to go ... maybe 10 years from now we might change our mind, but for now I am totally fine with two".
- With Ruth Lamperd at the Herald Sun.