Motherhood is as personal a decision as it gets and it is by no means a “one size fits all” affair. Maybe you’ve always seen yourself as a parent, or maybe you’ve never wanted to be one. Maybe you’re considering children now in a time you’re friends or family is saying is too late or too early. Maybe you’re feeling pressure to have a baby now, so you don’t miss out on that mythical “right time”.
We get it.
This is a decision only you can make. We’ll let you in on a secret: There is no “right time.” The best time to become a parent is the time you feel you want to become a parent, if you want to. Women are so connected to their children and it is crazy important to be ready to step into the Mom job.
Children are Awesome – Not Mandatory
Let’s get this out of the way. You don’t have to have a child.
Many parents will tell you children are the most rewarding parts of their lives, they’ll tell you about the joys of watching a human being they created grow up and learn and win soccer games and write poetry for the first time. They may not tell you about the amount of sacrifice that those parents went through to have these experiences.
We don’t want to sugarcoat this: Parenthood is hard. Like, ridiculously hard.
You shouldn’t feel pressured to have a child. You should feel like it’s a mandatory human experience. Childlessness brings with it time for travel and flexibility in employment. In fact, today one-fifth of American women choose not to have children and are no less fulfilled and no less women than those who choose to be mothers.
What if I’m Too Young?
You may currently be in your early twenties, debating whether or not you should have a baby. You might have been told that you’re too young, that you should wait. The only one who knows if you’re ready is you. The thing is, no one is fully prepared to steward a young human life. If you’re in a good place, and it’s what you want, go for it.
People sometimes will make biological arguments against young mothers, but know that dispute isn’t based in fact. In the late sixties, most children were born to women younger than 25. In the early nineties, 13% of children had teenage mothers. This generally didn’t affect the health of the mother or the baby.
When discussing the possibility of having a baby while you’re young, either with your partner or whomever you’d rely on for help, be honest with yourself or your situation. Having a child will exclude you from many of the experiences you’re friends may be having, it may put you under financial duress, it may halt your upward progress in the work place. Obviously, this all depends on your individual situation, but be honest, and think of what’s best for your child. Remember that those factors will still exist if you wait, and don’t do anything because you think society will judge you if you don’t.
What if the time has passed?
Every woman’s body is different. Until you’ve hit menopause it isn’t too late to carry a child. And even if you don’t feel comfortable, or you simply can’t carry yourself, there are many ways to be a parent. Don’t underestimate the power of IVF, surrogacy and adoption in creating beautiful, healthy families.
The so-called riskiness of pregnancies in women over 35 has been greatly exaggerated. Over the last 40 years, the average age of a woman’s first pregnancy have risen dramatically, and the amount of women who have there first child after age 35 has gone up in 46 states and Washington DC.
Of course, there is still relative risk. If you know you may want children in the future, many experts suggest egg freezing. Although, this is still a fairly new technology.
Your baby, your choice
Your choice to have a baby and your choice of when to have a baby are just those, choices. Drown out the judging masses and think critically about what’s best for you and what’s best for the human being you’re considering bring into the world. Only you can tell when the “right time” has come. Because being a mom is an awesome job if that’s your decision.