As I was writing a little bit about myself for another project, I started to think how my current path wasn’t what I had planned. Many people hope to get married (some even have binders full of planning details) and the obvious next step is kids. That wasn’t my plan.
Not unlike many young adults their age, my parents wanted to get away from home. They joined the military as a means of escaping life at home, met and married when they were young but they weren’t content. Add to that, two young kids. My parents ended their relationship in divorce. For the longest time I felt as though I was the catalyst to this divorce but I think the issues in my home went deeper.
I don’t remember much of my childhood, only the stories I create in my head based on photos I’ve seen or stories my mother and her family have shared at the few and far between gatherings. As far as I am aware, I had a happy childhood, with clothes to wear, food to eat, and a place to sleep (even if it did mean sharing a bedroom with my sister for most of my life).
During my high school years we were tasked with determining our future so we could focus our courses in the right direction. For many kids this was daunting but not me. I knew I was going to run my own advertising agency. I was going to be the next Angela Bower from Who’s the Boss. I had also decided that marriage and children didn’t fit into my picture. I knew too many people in unhappy marriages, including my own parents. I’m sure there were many more who were together ‘for the sake of the children’ and I didn’t want that path for myself. Life is too short to waste on someone else.
Funny how things change, how your planned path gets diverted.
I did end up getting into advertising, working on media plans for brands like Volkswagen, Harlequin Romance, Heinz Ketchup and Bayer Pharmaceuticals though I had put aside my dream to run an agency, feeling I didn’t have the creative chops to do it. I loved the emergence of new technology and easily glided over to interactive side within the advertising industry, managing the development of online ad campaigns and websites. I also discovered that although I had elements of my parents within me, I wasn’t destined to follow the same road they travelled. Of course meeting my now husband at the time also influenced me.
Early in our relationship we decided we would get married. We enjoyed our couple life together, taking road trips, enjoying city life, buying our new home and renovating it. For many newly married couples kids are next on their agenda and we did talk about it a few times. We both wanted kids someday but just not yet. Every once in awhile one of us would think about it again but there was always an issue: I just started a new job, my husband just received his professional status, more renovations needed to happen on the house, maybe we should enjoy another vacation together, money wasn’t at the level we wished it would be at. We went through eight years of these ‘we are not quite ready yet’ conversations.
How Do You Know You’re Ready for Kids?
Then one day it sort of clicked, would we ever be ready? Is there ever an optimal time to have kids? Add on to that a new found fear, what if we couldn’t have kids? We had assumed all this time that we could start having children whenever we wanted but what if that wasn’t true? What if we decided one day we were ready to start a family and then no family came? Would we blame it on the other person for delaying things? Would we regret living our lives up to this moment based on an assumption?
To be honest we never really decided we were going to start having kids. Instead we went forward with the mindset that we weren’t going to prevent the likelihood of having them (as in no more birth control). The plan was to just continue living our lives, no obsessing over this family decision, but of course that is easier said than done. Lucky for us it wasn’t long before we were expecting. After a difficult delivery and months within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) we decided that one child was more than enough for our family. But as with all definite decisions, the journey you take to get there sometimes has you changing your mind and we decided on a second child and then a third.
You would assume after you’ve made the decision to have kids and your first child arrives, follow-up children are easy to decide upon. But I found each child a difficult decision. Each stage of parenthood is different: from couple to family, from single child to two children, from an equal child parent ratio to kids dominating the numbers. I don’t think you’re ever ready for children, whether it’s your first or your fifth. The fantasy you’ve conjured up in your mind or the experiences you’ve gained from your previous children won’t prepare you for your new addition. I think you have to look at parenthood like any adventure. Sometimes you have to trust in each other and take the leap, learning and adapting as you tumble through.
Did you ever find yourself going through struggling with the ‘when’ question when it came to having kids or did you just know? Was the decision easier or harder with each child?