Monday, August 09, 2010

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a golden carriage



Parents! And Parents-to-be! I have [more] questions for you. 

The question of the day is: How did you go about planning to have children? More specifically, did you reach an age where you said "We must have kids NOW, the time is right" or did you specifically plan children, say, for when you reached the age of 26?

I know folks in both boats and there are many reasons for deciding upon each course of action. I had a few friends who got married and said "Hey, now that we're hitched, let's see if we get pregnant; we can't wait to have kids!" 

And then I have other friends who planned it out: "We're just out of graduate school, got loads of debt, just getting the career started [etc], let's wait five more years and then reevaluate. I think age 32 has a nice ring to it."

Or did you say, "eh, I'm not married but I want a child! No long term significant other required, thankyouverymuch." 

And last, but not least, did you not plan on having children at all, but "surprise! I'm pregnant!" 

Of course, it should be noted that deciding to have kids is very different than actually having kids. That requires a lot of luck and good timing. But I'm not interested in that right now. I'm interested in how you went about planning for children. 

When in your life was the time right/not right for you?

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Our Story

When it come to big events, Chris and I are generally on the same page: we like to plan. Which is a bit unusual for me since I'm typically more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. 

Dating at 20, moved in together at 22,  engagement at 24, marriage at 25. And, we thought we'd perfectly planned out the start of parenthood: 1st child in the vicinity of 28, then, come the time we're thinking about retirement (hopefully mid 50s), the kid(s) will be finishing up college and ready to jump off the deep end into that pool called The Real World. Perfectly planned, right? Three years between marriage and birth, plenty of time to get into the swing of things and get ready for a kid. 

But when 27 rolled around, the time when, if you want to have a baby at 28, you need to seriously start thinking about getting busy, we weren't ready. We lived in a rental house in SoCal, were both working crazy full time jobs, Chris was embroiled in the midst of his MBA, and there were a few big trips (Africa, Belize) that were in the works. Frankly, we were enjoying being a couple without a mortgage, few responsibilities, and a disposable income.

Plus, I wasn't yet at the point where I was shooting envious glances at every cute pregnant lady shopping in the baby section at Target. 

I actually remember the conversation pretty well: A baby? Next year? Oh god. How about we reevaluate The Plan? How does 30 sound to you?

And so The Plan was changed. 

Baby J is due within a few weeks of my 30th birthday. Which in my family is fairly standard timing: both my mom and grandmother were first time mothers on or after the start of their 3rd decade. 

I'm actually looking forward to reflecting on life in 30 or 40 years (provided that I'm still around) to see how The Plan has been altered over the years. Because, of course, not all things in life go according to the schedule, despite one's best intentions or careful planning. There are simply too many uncontrollable variables. Life has a sneaky way of throwing a wrench into the best laid plans. Which is why I'm still sticking to my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mentality as a backup.

So let's hear your stories! What was your path to parenthood like?

8 comments:

  1. Our path to parenthood is still in front of us. Right now, we both have a decent amount of student debt. In 10 years, my husband's will be gone, and hopefully, in 3-5 years, mine will be gone. We do not have a house right now, but hopefully, that will change in the next 6 months to 2 years.

    We want to have a home, steady jobs in good standing, and lower amounts of student debt before we make the decision to have a child. I'm 28 now, so there is not the rush. We both want to work, so that impacts our decision too, especially with daycare expenses. And we want a home closer to our jobs, good schools, and likely daycares to make life easier.

    After seeing so many friends be stressed out with their children because of other things (house size, lack of money, dead end job, etc), we want to try to make decisions that won't result in some of the more avoidable stress. Don't worry, we absolutely know that a child will produce changes and stress, and not everything is predictable. But, we can try our best to not have outside influences be the stressors.

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  2. As the mother of three (two adopted from China and one we're hoping will be ours through foster care..) AND the step-mother to three (do the math...yes that makes SIX kids ages 11 months to 21 YEARS) let me tell you...there is no "right" time to have a child. You can plan you can save, you can "think" you've got it right...but once you have that child in your arms, it wont matter which credit card you owe, it wont matter if you're close to the best school or love or hate your job. It all becomes secondary and all that junk falls away and it just wont matter.

    I was working full time outside the home and no intention of scaling back. Let's just say I'm now at home full time and homeschooling...because well...I'm crazy like that. Never say never ;o)

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  3. PS: Congratulations! :)

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  4. Interesting points, Stephanie!

    I wonder though:while there might be no 'right' time, I'm still of the opinion that there are better and worse times to have a baby.

    Pregnant at 14 with no HS diploma and no job experiences strikes me as a 'not-so-great' time for most first time mothers, for instance.

    Like Jessika, I put a lot of stock in feeling comfortable that things are under control before embarking on a big venture. Of course, there are many occurrence when you aren't prepared and then you just have to roll with the punches. But I like having a little bit of peace of mind, knowing that I've arrived at a decision after a lot of thought and contemplation.

    Check back with me in 6 months. I'm sure that I'll be feeling completely unprepared and overwhelmed despite my preparation! :)

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  5. ah yes...the teenage mother. Yeah, not a good idea. I was thinking about adults who generally have it all together. Maybe a better phrase would have been...it doesn't matter how much planning you do...you can never be prepared enough.

    I am your typical Type A control freak who over thought it all and needed her timing etc to be exactly perfect...what it comes down to is that ultimately when that child entered my life...I was not as in control or prepared as I thought I was! heehee

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  6. Stephanie,

    I definitely agree with that last bit: you can never be prepared enough. How very, very true. :)

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  7. We always planned on trying at age 27 and having both before either of us was 30. We knew we wanted our kids to be close in age, and to be young enough to have the energy to run around with them in their younger years. I was 27 when we had G. I will either be 28 or 29 when we have L. She will be born just a few weeks before Brian turns 30. :) Just how we wanted it to go.

    And I agree...no matter how much preparation you do you are NEVER fully prepared for any child. ;) They have their own way of doing things.

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  8. We've just hit the marriage mark, so we have that secured. Steve is definitely not in a hurry for kids (always jokes, "how about 10 years?"...wait, maybe that's not a joke... :)) & while I'm also not in a hurry, I want to be of reasonable age. Steve is 28, I'm 27.

    The debt part definitely plays a role in our decision - student loan debt, from my Master's program, looms over our heads. Luckily, at this point, we're able to pay extra to the loans & will hopefully have them paid off sooner rather than later. At the same time, I feel like I'm still too "selfish" to have a kid. I like sleeping in on Saturday mornings or going for a run whenever the heck I please. I like eating ice cream for dinner or going out to the bars with friends on a Friday night. I definitely need a few more years of "growing up" before I face the responsibility of raising little ones.

    I don't know the magic age, but I would like to have kids before I'm 35. Maybe between 30-32? Part of my reasoning is health - the older a woman gets, the chances of complications skyrockets. Not to say it can't happen, but I have no desire to face that kind of stress. Plus, I want to be able to retire at a decent age! :)

    We're also living in a town that we don't want to settle in. We own a house (that came before marriage, so I suppose we were a bit "backwards" in that aspect), which will probably help us secure a more family-suitable home in the future. We don't love the town we live in & don't dream of raising our kids here - so we need a bit of time to find the right place.

    Not in a hurry but not going to get lazy about it. :)

    Great question! I enjoyed the varying answers.

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