Cary and I have always known we wanted to have kids (definitely one, possibly two). And, I always thought that my early 30's would be the right time to start. Well, I am now in my early 30's, and so Cary and I have "started thinking about when we will start thinking about having kids," as we describe it. Sometimes it feels too soon and that we are definitely not emotionally or financially ready for such a big change. And sometimes I see a baby while on a walk and feel 100% ready at that very moment. So, I went to the mamas in my life to ask for their thoughts on how they knew, or when they decided, that they were ready to have kids.
How did you decide/know when you were ready to have kids?
I knew I could do hard things, that I had a well of love to offer and a community of support, and that I would learn and forgive myself when I made missteps
I've always known that I want to be a mother. I'll admit that my decision to become one wasn't especially intentional. It was a lot more of a gut feeling of it being right than something that made sense logically. I wasn't financially or relationally as stable as might seem "ideal". Looking back, I can see I had the relationship with myself that I needed. I knew I could do hard things, that I had a well of love to offer and a community of support, and that I would learn and forgive myself when I made missteps.
It just felt like the time was right
I always knew I wanted to have children, and after being married for about 3 years it just felt like the time was right. Even though you were such an easy baby, I wasn’t ready to have another child for quite a while, thus the almost 6 year age difference.
There is no perfect combination of things a person needs to be ready to be a parent
My answer to this question radically changed before and after having my first child, and has continued to evolve this year as my husband and I decided to try for our second (I’m now pregnant with #2 and due this summer). I’m one of those people who always knew they wanted kids – I’ve wanted to be a mom for longer than I’ve wanted to be anything else! But I also felt that there were a series of things I needed to “have” in order to be ready to have a kid – a strong marriage, financial stability, a certain home, job flexibility, family in close proximity, a “plan” for the future, etc, etc, etc. While these are all things that certainly smooth the way to having a child, after my son was born I quickly realized that the idea that anyone is “ready” is a myth! There is no perfect combination of things a person needs to be ready to be a parent and, really, there is no such thing as being “ready” to have a kid! Your life will be changed in ways you can’t even imagine or begin to prepare for. So now I think of having kids in this way – are you (and your partner, if that’s how you choose to have a child) prepared to take a leap of faith into the unknown?
You can talk yourself into or out of any decision
What I know is you can talk yourself into or out of any decision. For us we always knew we wanted a family it was a matter of having the finances to support a child knowing both of us would be working and in need of childcare. After 2 years of marriage we decided to start a family. My mom was disappointed that I was going to be working outside the home after having a baby. I explained to her it’s the way of the world now, many couples have to continue working needing the multiple salaries. She almost made me second guess our decision. But as mentioned earlier you can create a pro/con list and make yourself crazy if you let it.
In the end we knew we wanted to start a family while we were younger and not wait to start until out thirties.
It all worked out, I lucked out and found a fantastic lady to help me watch our daughter in her home! A godsend who turned out to become my best, lifelong friend. I often think if we hadn’t decided to start a family then I would have missed out on meeting this most wonderful person. Life is a strange and wonderful thing.
I knew I was ready to have a baby after we moved into our first home
I knew I was ready to have a baby after we moved into our first home. My husband and I had been married for four years, and we each had good jobs. When we began talking about starting a family, my husband told me about how his parents slept with two cribs next to their bed in a cramped one-bedroom rental in East Orange, New Jersey. He wanted better than that for us. A year after we moved in to our first home, I was pregnant. I could tell Jim was in shock when I showed him the little plus sign on the home pregnancy test, because he immediately got himself a drink! We were both very happy.
Here’s a picture of us right after we found out I was pregnant (note the drink in Jim’s hand!).
I'm still not ready!
A friend-of-a-friend who has a 10 year old daughter said this and it made me smile.
It’s a gamble. But we have done everything right we can so it’s a good bet.
In the end, I have to admit, it takes a bit of “suspending your disbelief.” I’m someone who prefers science to faith so it’s a bit embarrassing to say “you just ignore all that can go wrong and imagine good things!” I was hesitant to get married, too. The data seemed to say “everyone gets divorced.” But the divorce rate is mainly driven by people with 3 divorces, right? We are not the same as most people. It might actually be realistic- not naive- to think we will be different. So that’s how I feel about having kids. It’s a gamble. But we have done everything right we can so it’s a good bet. And we can’t guarantee ourselves a simple, happy life even without kids.
Let’s see what life has planned for us and throw caution to the wind
Honestly—I don’t know if there is ever a right time. I don’t think we decided one day that it was the right time, I think we just decided that we weren’t going to try and prevent it from happening anymore. Let’s see what life has planned for us and throw caution to the wind. Before that decision I think we were over thinking it - did we have enough money? No! Were we happy in our jobs or did we want to go back to school. No and yes. Could we afford a house with a yard and a dog? No and no. But in the end it did not matter. A few months later I was pregnant. And when I spotted at 2 months and realized how devastated I would be if I miscarried, that was when I knew I was ready!! Life has never been the same but in the most glorious, delicious way.
No matter how many conversations you have or how much planning goes into it, I really don’t think you were ever truly “ready”
My husband and I were just reflecting on this question and honestly neither one of us can really remember the conversations we had around this topic. Our first pregnancy was definitely planned so I’m sure there were conversations but the only thing I can recall is that we were both coming up on our mutual graduations from grad school so logistically it did seem like good timing to start our family now that we were finally done with our education. But I really can’t recall any more emotionally-based conversations such as why we wanted to be parents in the first place. However, I think that’s just fine. What I have learned since becoming a mom is that no matter how many conversations you have or how much planning goes into it, I really don’t think you were ever truly “ready.” If you’re waiting to come to a moment where you feel magically mature enough and ready I’m not sure you’ll ever get there. I think becoming a parent always feels a little scary because it is such a big responsibility and so life-changing and requires so much self-sacrifice. It’s always intimidating to sign up for that level of change! No matter how ready you feel, it will still be overwhelming and unsettling on some level. I was SO excited to have our first baby but I also remember calling my mom crying at 37 weeks pregnant after a hard babysitting job saying I didn’t think I could do this parenting thing! Three kids later, some days I’m still not sure I can do it, but apparently I am doing it! Parenting has been humbling and character-building and really hard work. But my heart has grown and adapted in powerful ways to accommodate our growing family just at the time it needed to- not always before. And I would 100% choose it all over again!
We stopped at perfection
I was “ready” as soon as I knew I could someday have a baby – I always hoped and prayed I could have one healthy child. As a young unmarried woman, I also saw adoption in my future. Fast forward to reality. When I met my husband we agreed we would try for a baby. He said “Well if we have one we have to have two.” I again told him all I could hope for was to conceive and give birth to a healthy child. He was not at all into adoption, so I dropped it. If we both didn’t agree in my mind it was not meant to be.
I had my baby boy after about 5 years of marriage. I was ready, then my husband wasn’t, then I was, then I needed a booster vaccine and had to wait 6 months. We were lucky and got pregnant very easily. After my son was about a year old I told my husband he was right, we should try for a second child. He said “No. You were right.” And again, since we didn’t agree, it was not meant to be.
My tag line for people who ask why only one (yes, those folks do exist!) I say “We stopped at perfection.”
About the Mom Advice Series
Partners, best friends, siblings, and even pets, can be amazing sources of relief, advice, and can be so helpful, and I turn to them often in hard times. But, in my case, no one knows me better than my mom. She always knows the best and right thing to say to calm me down. I always find comfort in talking to her.
I have my mom, and then I have my "other moms." These are women who I grew up around or have become a big part of my life. I also turn to them for advice and support. I can't tell you how many times I've kicked myself for not writing their advice down. I'm hoping that through this series, I'll be able to preserve some of their priceless words, and be able to go back and reference them. I also hope that having it accessible through this platform can be helpful to others. Because, in my opinion, the more mom advice we have in our lives, the better.
The advice in this post was contributed by Sue Lyons, Janet Wirtz, Ali Mathwig, Megan Rowell, Beth Tank, Brooke Harris, Kristin Braden, Jeannine Reyelt, Sue Cohen, and a few other amazing moms.