Inspired by Revanche… Baby Talk

My niece, Cora, wandering around in my shoes!

My mother-in-law is having shoulder surgery in a few weeks.  She’d been putting it off for nearly a year, but a this point, the range of motion in her arm is shrinking and conflicting with the things she does every day, even to the point where she can’t pick up my niece (her granddaughter) without some planning.  But shoulder surgery is serious business – she wouldn’t be able to do housework – she can’t even drive!  I see why she’d been putting it off, but eventually, I guess she accepted that there is no good time to be completely out of commission. 

This is kind of how I’m feeling about having a baby.

My parents had kids really young – my mom was barely 20 when my older sister was born.  I always thought that would be nice, to be a young parent, to finish raising your kid and still have some good years ahead of you.  The problem is, I didn’t even meet D until I was 19, didn’t graduate from college until I was 22, and didn’t get married until I was 26.  And even now, at 28, I don’t feel like I’m mature enough for a baby.

Sometimes we eat cereal for dinner because we have run out of food.  Last week we ran out of pasta!  Who runs out of pasta?? And we didn’t even notice until we were like, “There’s no other food, guess we’re having spaghetti!” and then we couldn’t. Because we were out of pasta.  Sometimes we let the laundry pile up for weeks, until we’re literally down to our last pairs of underwear.  Sometimes I’ll put off vacuuming because we’ll be having guests “soon,” even if that person isn’t visiting for another month.

My ability to keep things alive is another issue.  One time, D and I decided that we were going to grow our own herbs, so we bought some potted cilantro, mint, and rosemary.  Within a week they’d grown little white spots.  We thought they were aphids, so we put the plants outside so the ladybugs could eat the pests.  Less than a week later, the plants were dead, the cilantro stalks limp and yellow, the mint leaves brown and dry.  I have never seen plants that dead.

How can you bring a baby into that? You can’t.

That said, I know I want to have kids  someday.  And so does D.  I’d always said that I wanted to have kids before I turned 30, but, um, that’s coming up pretty fast.  And as I look forward to the time before I turn 30 (and even after), there doesn’t seem like there will ever be a good time:

  • Next summer, we’ll have another big project at work.  We’re looking at least a few months of overtime and graveyard shifts, and not only will missing it be a career hit, I’d also be missing some of the most interesting and challenging projects to date.
  • My younger sister is getting married in October.  I’d like to not look fat in the pictures, because I am a vain creature and people will probably keep those photos for a long time.
  • I’m not into the idea of being pregnant in the summertime.  It already gets too hot!

As you can see, there are many selfish things that I’m not willing to give up or miss out on.  And the year after that, I’ll probably have more fun work projects, more weddings, and more excuses.  And from what I’ve heard, it’s not like you can just pick a month and do it – some people I know have tried for over a year before it finally happens!

Also, like Revanche, I struggle with the question of money vs. time spent with my (hypothetical) kids.  I’m going to be making a ridiculous amount of overtime this year, but it comes at the price of working an average of 2 extra days per month.  I’ve seen how my coworkers’ kids seem to always be having issues, dropping out of school, having babies at 16 (and some whose children are turning out very well, so you never know).  I’ve always felt like the reason my sisters and I turned out well with no lingering psychological problems is that my mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of our childhood.  I’d love to have a parent home with our kids… but I’m not so sure that I want that parent to be me.  I’m not so sure that D wants it to be him, either. 

(And I also know that no matter what we decide, it will be wrong.  It seems that people love to criticize how others are raising their children.)

All of this puts me in a rather strange position of having no idea what I want for the future, or how to get it together enough to figure it out.  All I know is that, like Revanche, the window of opportunity is shrinking, and if I don’t figure it out soon, my options might slip away.


9 Responses

  1. Hard questions! It has been on my mind a lot too, but T has one more year of school, and it really doesn’t make sense to make any decisions before he has his next steps figured out.

    I think kids turning out “well” is something of a crap shoot, and that scares me. Good parenting is key, but once the kids reach teenage years, I feel like they slip out of your control a bit, and even good parents have problem kids. (I was a much more well behaved teenager than my husband, even though his mom stayed home and my parents worked. He turned out really well, but I credit meeting me 😉 And he’s a genius, that helps. You’ll probably have smart kids.)

    Honestly, if running out of pasta and killing plants are the things that you think disqualify you… I really really think you have the maturity to overcome that if a helpless child were involved. The career things are much more of a concern for me.

  2. Beautiful photo!

  3. That would be a hard decision. I am not even close to having kids any time soon but I know it will likely not be before I am 30.

    My parents both worked full time and I had to chill with my grandparents A LOT when I was young….I still turned out okay, so you never know.

  4. I’m also 28 and have also been struggling with some of these same questions lately. I too thought I’d have at least one child by 30, but one day a few months ago I realized just how close 30 is (only about 16 months and counting, yikes!). I’m married and we talk about wanting kids in the future, but the timing doesn’t seem right, and time is slipping away fast. I have it in mind that I want to be done having kids by 35 to avoid a higher risk pregnancy, so that doesn’t leave a very big window. And lately, I’ve found myself playing similar timeframe games to what you describe, as in “I can’t be pregnant next May, because we’re talking about going on a family cruise…” and on and on.

    And the career thing is a big concern, as I’m having a hard time imagining how I could possibly be a really good mother and employee, not to mention a good wife, and also find time to commute, keep a house clean, cook, and do a million other things I would need or want to do, all while keeping my sanity. It sorta exhausts me just thinking about it.

  5. As I commented on Revanche’s blog, I think this quote sums it up well.

    “Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”
    — Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)

  6. I can definitely relate!

    My doctor asked me this morning if we were thinking about kids any time soon…and I was just like “uh… not immediately. Someday.” And still, I came home and sat on the couch all evening, didn’t do laundry (despite having 1 pair of underwear left…so I guess it will get done tomorrow!). I can’t figure out what time is the “best” career wise, despite quite a few people giving me unsolicited advice. But at the same time, I don’t want to have kids when it’s not right for us, and I have no idea when that will be either.

    Mostly I try not to worry about it too much yet, but as I get older (and as we’ve been married for longer, I guess) it comes up more and more. So… I just stick with “someday”.

  7. I think that once you have kids, you learn how to be responsible, STAT.

    At least.. that’s what people tell me.

  8. I think there is never a perfect time. I’m sure you heard that a million times but it’s true! If it’s any consolation, I really don’t think staying at home is the reason you and your sister were good kids. I have seen good/bad kids with SAHM, working parents, SAH-dads, in other words in every sort of configuration. As scary as it seems, a lot of it is outside your control. You have influence as parents but it’s more guidance and doing the best that you can!

    I would never have felt “ready” in my late 20s or early 30s BUT I wished I had not waited so long.

  9. I dont think there is a “right” time either, but that being said, there are definitely sometimes that are far superior to others. This is a tough question and topic to deal with, and I hear the same thing from my girlfriend on occasion (though she actually IS 30). I think about it myself, but it’s in a very abstract form – nothing concrete so really the point of my thinking is moot. I feel like if it happens I could deal with it relatively smoothly, but I know there’d be a change no matter what. I also dont have the concerns in the fertility arena that women do (doesnt happen till much later for men)
    anyway – good luck with your decision

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