Today I saw a blog post about knowing if you are ready to have kids. The blogger talked about people being in love with the idea of a wedding and not really thinking about the long haul. She wondered if she was in love with the idea of having a baby. You know the shower, the excitement, the gifts, the cute baby stuff. She posed the question: How do I know I am ready?
I started to leave a comment, at which point I realized I had a lot to say on the subject. I decided to make it a post instead. Maybe some of you are wondering the same thing. Or maybe some of you have ideas to throw into the mix.
These are my ideas and opinions based off of my experience. They are in no means meant as a judgment or will they hold true for everyone.
In general: if you are thinking this much about having children, you’re probably ready. Well as ready as you will ever be (more on that later). My guess is: you haven’t spent your entire adult life seriously contemplating children. If it is weighing on your mind a ton now, it is probably because it is time.
The short answer: You are never ready to have kids. There is never a good time.
If you are waiting to be “ready” or for a “good time” you probably aren’t ever going to get there. At some point you just want kids, so you dive in. You cannot possibly ever be ready, because you cannot possibly fathom what being a parent means. Sure, you had parents, yes, your friends have had kids and yes, you read every book there is on the subject, but guess what? None of it makes you ready to hold this human being and be fully responsible for it. Nothing.
There will always be things on the list: a bigger house, a better car, a bigger paycheck, more in savings. My theory on these things: I am not going to make permanent decisions on non-permanent factors. I could win the lottery 5 years from now. Okay, not likely, but the point is these factors change. People get new jobs, people lose jobs, people get promotions, people win the lottery. When you are 70 looking back on it all, is the big savings or the car you drove 40 years ago really going to matter? No. The family that surrounds you, that you created, will.
How do you know if you want kids? I like to think about my future. Do I want to be 70 eating Christmas dinner with just my husband? Or do I want to be 70 and have a house full of children, their spouses and grandchildren? If 70, with just you and the hubs sounds good, maybe kids aren’t for you, but if you see yourself surrounded by a whole crew I guess that means you need to start a family.
Taking the leap is hard. I know it is hard. Having children will change every aspect of your life. It will change your life in ways you cannot even imagine. I am not going to pretend that it is always easy, but anything worth having takes work.
The neat thing about having children is how it changes all of you. I believe I have a strong marriage. I love my husband, but more then I love my husband, I love my family. I love what we are as a unit. I love seeing my husband as a father and Quinn as a son and a brother and Eleanor as a daughter and a sister. I love the way we compliment each other. Watching my family grow and evolve has been the most rewarding experience of my life.
No trip, date or night out with friends will ever compare to my family. My husband and I look back at life before children and wonder what we did with our time and where we found our joy. Once you meet these little beings that are such a perfect mix of you and the person you love, it is kind of hard to imagine a world without them. Their enthusiasm for life and the way they look at the world is refreshing. It reminds you to find more joy in life. Actually, it practically forces you to find joy.
The thing to remember with children is: This too, shall pass. When you are tired and worn out…this too, shall pass. When they are snuggled in your arms…this too, shall pass. Raising children is a journey, an adventure and it passes way too quickly. Each stage brings new challenges and new rewards. Like everything in life, you get out what you put in. Reminding yourself that a diaper change is a time to make silly faces and noises with your baby, or a middle of the night feeding is extra snuggle time makes the moments count.
My children give me far more than I give them. They literally make me a better person. They make me think twice about the way I talk to my husband and to others. They have changed the way I look at the world. They find joy in everything, and in turn, I find joy in everything. They are really stinking funny. We laugh a lot around here. They love and adore me and my husband. They want to wait on the front porch for daddy to get home. When he does, they run into his arms yelling, “daddy!” Do you know what that does for someone’s self-worth and their confidence? Watching them grow and learn and turn into people you are proud of is beyond cool.
If you are wondering how we got here, how we got to the point where wanted to have children. We bought our house, I ran out of birth control and we said why not? Now is as good of time as any. And what do you know? If I thought about it, if had worried about it, if I had waited until we were financially ready, until everything was just so, we still wouldn’t have kids. The last, almost 4 years, have been nothing short of incredible and I am so glad I dove into parenthood.
What are your thoughts? How did you know you were ready? Are you still on the fence? Is anyone getting pregnant tonight ;)?
For more personal posts or more on being a mom check out: Waiting For Someday, How I Came to Be A SAHM, The Best Day of Your Life & Other Lies, Trusting Your Mommy Instinct, The Simple Joys of Being Mom, Don’t You Get Bored, Guilt, A Mother’s Curse, Eleanor’s First Laugh, The Family Movie Night That Never Was