“I need to meet my career goals first.”
“I’m too young to have a child.”
Over the years I have heard both of these phrases come out of the mouths of women in my life who have wanted to have children but for whatever reason, didn’t feel the timing was right.
I’m here today to set the record straight and tell you, as a 30-year-old woman myself and mother to four spirited daughters, and as a daughter of a woman who didn’t give birth to me herself until age 37 – there really is no perfect time to have a baby.
I had my first baby at 20
Giving birth to my first child at age twenty was a huge adjustment. Some have balked at the age I was when I first became a mother, expressing their shock at my “innocence and naiveté” being taken from me in my choice to have a child so young. The thing is though, it was exactly that: a choice I made. Just like it was my own mother’s choice to wait until she was 30 before she began trying to have a baby of her own. A baby (me!) that took seven long years and one round of IVF to conceive.
Both timings of birth each had their own unique challenges and both had their draw-cards, too. So which is better?
You don’t get time to build up your finances but …
When you have children young, you don’t really get the chance to build up your finances securely. There just isn’t the time to work a lot and save a lot. So there may be long periods where you’re living pay-to-pay and there is not a large money pot to dip from. On the upside to this, being a young parent means you learn pretty fast how to stick to a budget and how to make the most out of what you have and get thrifty. You also learn pretty fast that while ample money can be fun, children don’t really need all that much in the way of “stuff” and the most prized possessions actually come in the form of family, friends and loved ones.
Building a career you love takes longer
Having children older means you can definitely build up your qualifications, networks and career portfolio, for sure. Delaying bringing offspring into your life for this reason makes logical sense. Except for the fact that study, working and networking are all things that can be achieved when you become a parent, too. Over the years of raising my daughters alongside my husband I have studied, volunteered and networked my heart out. It just requires a little flexibility and a lot of good time-management skills and commitment. When things matter, you find a way to make them work.
Some parenting sacrifices hurt, no matter your age
I can tell you one thing right now that will not change no matter the age you are when you decide to have children, and that is: spontaneity. It doesn’t matter whether you are 40 or 20, when you have children you give up your ability to make decisions at-whim and this is a hard lesson and sacrifice for any parent to learn, regardless of age. Saying “goodbye!” to last-minute decisions and “hello!” to routine and regularity is not really something that’s ever going to be easy to give up. It doesn’t require wisdom of age to learn, either. It kinda sucks no matter what, and it’s unavoidable but all part of the parenting gig nonetheless.
Then there is the rest …
Sacrificing personal space, uninterrupted sleep, regular long-lunches with friends and spur-of-the-moment getaways with your loved one are all things that are going to be a challenge no matter how old you are. And with all the joy, laughter, endless, unconditional, heart-bursting love that a child brings when they choose you as their parent and come into your life – it’s all 100% worth it, and just requires a leap of faith: in yourself, in the universe and in each other.