If you are child-free by choice, or happily child-free by circumstance, I just want you to know, I’m cool with that.
This is a very much none-of-my-business post, but this is also a post that pretty much encompasses what I would tell many a young couple if I were asked directly for my opinion.
If you are in possession of a uterus, I do not think that motherhood is the end-all, be-all of your destiny. If you want to have children, I think that is great; and if you are on the fence about having children, I would hope that this post gives you something to think about.
But if you are really unsure about being a parent, or if you want to remain child-free — that is fine.
It’s fine. Don’t flame me, bro.
I have said this before in this space: I never gave a lot of thought to having kids. I barely thought much about getting married.
And then I started dating Dan, and then got married (at 30 years old), and then had children. And it’s awesome. (Really, really hard some days, but mostly awesome.)
I didn’t struggle with infertility. We pretty much got pregnant when we wanted to get pregnant. And avoided it when we wanted to avoided it. There was a brief space, the space between Gabriel’s death and Flora’s conception, that was fraught with some of what I see women and couples who struggle with infertility going through.
But that was a short space.
And here I am.
And let me tell you something: Having a pregnancy at 39 with two other children to care for and a full-time job and then having a baby and turning 40 two months later? IS EXHAUSTING.
If you are married or in a stable relationship and you want children someday? Have them now. You have more energy now. Your reproductive organs are nice and young and (relatively to my 40-year-old eggs, for example) primed for making healthy babies.
Seriously: Go for it.
That Ph.D. program will still be there. Europe or whatever other country you want to travel to will still be there. You can start your career now, continue it as a parent, and/or pick it up again later. Work will be there. Guys: cars and more expensive toys? Will be there.
What may not be there (especially, particularly, and almost exclusively for women) is fertility.
This somewhat harkens back to that Allison Pearson quote . If you listened to the interview at all (and I do encourage you to do so; it’s so entertaining) she talks about listening to young career-oriented woman (although I think it pertains to men as well, although to a lesser degree when it comes to fertility), and how she just wants to tell them to go get pregnant.
Will your life be easier with kids? Will getting that Ph.D. or traveling or climbing the career ladder be easier if you are a parent, especially if you are a woman?
But struggling with infertility in your 30s has got to be more difficult. It’s heartbreaking. Stressful. Hard on a relationship.
Like I said, many things remain possible after parenthood. Fertility is finite.
Are there other concerns? Yes. Of course there are, and that’s why I mention stability in your relationship. Plus, you and/or your partner probably want to have some steady income, health benefits (although there are avenues for prenatal care that don’t have to cost tons of money), and other resources.
Like I said, this is a none-of-my-business post. And I know that blogs that are honest about the difficulty of parenting (which is a lot of my blog) can be off-putting to anyone who wants to be a parent someday. But I know so many wonderful people out there who will make great parents if they so choose. I mean to be encouraging, not judgmental.
If I did that badly, it wouldn’t be the first time.