I had a really great lunch with an old friend the other day. The last time we got to hang out was just before I became a father; so a lot has changed in that time.
We caught up, chatted old times, discussed future plans and eventually talked about having kids. He talked about how he imagines in the next few years he and his wife will probably have a few . He spoke in such a casual, sure of himself, “we’ll see what happens” sort of attitude that I found pleasantly refreshing.
Before having a son, I’m not sure I would have been able to speak like that; so sure that kids were in the plan at some point down the road. I always dogged the question or shrugged it off because truthfully, I was never sure how I felt about it. The only thing I was sure of is that I wasn’t ready yet.
You see, I don’t think there’s ever a good time to have children.
That isn’t to say that having children is bad. That just means that there is always going to be something else going on.
My mother had me very young and it made the early years of her adult life much more difficult than they needed to be. That being said, she would tell you that she wouldn’t change a thing.
I have family and friends who are my age who had kids young. Their kids are now in school, playing sports and beginning to claim their own independence. Mine is struggling to recognize when he has shit himself. It seems nice, like they are “ahead of the game” so to speak. But I would not have wanted to have a child earlier in my life. I loved my 20’s and would have had to do things much differently had I been a dad then.
Looking at the opposite end I have friends older than me, who are jut now starting to think that someday they may want kids. They are waiting until they are more financial stable, or they have bought a house and secured the “right career”. I even know people who have gone so far as to write out pre-baby bucket lists filled with all sorts of things they want to do before settling down and punching out a few kids.
There are blogs with click-bait headlines like “10 things you must do before having children”. One of them seriously told me that I should join a kickball league before I had a kid. A kickball league???? First, like this is somehow a “must do” in my life and second, that it can only happen before I am a dad. What a load of crap.
There will always be reasons to wait, reasons to hurry up, reason not to have a child. The things in the way might change but there will always be reasons. I think what is more important is not the “when” but “if”. First you need to decide if you event want children.
People like to weigh in on this topic a lot. Friends and family will give you shit if you don’t have kids, and then again when you only have one. I get asked a lot when I am having another kid; not “if” I am having another kid, but when. Like somehow the perfect little person I have already helped to create is some how not sufficient.
The friend I was having lunch with asked “if” instead of “when”. First I thanked him for that and then said that I was done. He said “good for you” and we moved on in conversation. That is really all anyone is asking for; respect for someone’s decision and direction, without pressing and second guessing.
The point I’m getting at with all of this is that there is never a good time to have a kid, or a second, or a third. There will always be something else that you could be doing with your life. You could always be more financially stable or secure. You could always be “more ready”.
The opposite of course is that there is no time like the present to have one, and what are you waiting for. Every day that passes is one day close to infertility and childless old age.
But at the end of the day, none of that matters, and neither does the opinion of others.
So have kids or don’t. Have them now or later. There will be ups and downs with any decision you come to on the matter; but I’ll happy for you either way.