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.