Is there a right age to have a child? Is there a right age to decide to be a parent?
Is there an age where you feel okay, I am ready, I am ready to step into the abyss and see where it takes me?
<I am discounting when someone falls pregnant by ‘accident’ as that is no longer a decision to have a child, that is ‘we are having a child, let’s make some decisions that go with it” – that situation is different and though has merit, is not the decision where one sits and goes “am I ready to think about having a child”>
I am not sure that there is any “right” age to agree to have kids, but at the same time I do not think there is a wrong age. I do think however there is an “unwise” age.
For instance I think making a decision to have children when your age ends with the word “teen” is probably an unwise age. I personally would not trust a “teen” to order me a take away meal and get it right and bring me change, so odds are I might not think they were “wise” enough to raise a child.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that a “teen” has the plumbing and understands the mechanism of how to become parents. My dog can have sex and produce a litter every year or so, it does not take a genius to actually become a parent, the genius (the sweat and the tears) is the ability to BE a parent.
<I am excluding good as my idea of good and Martha Stewart’s idea of good might vary on this>
I wasn’t ready to think about being a parent when I was in my twenties. At the same time I was also not picturing white weddings and white picket fences. It just was not how my mind’s eye was working.
However Kennith was ready and had been ready from about 35 seconds after we met. I am not sure it was me that inspired a sense of producing off spring, it was more the fact that he wanted off spring and I was there.
He did not pressure me, but he did indicate that his future included small replicas of our DNA, or at worst his DNA.
My tack was to say “maybe next year” – knowing full that next year would never come, and if it did, then we could have the same conversation. A little like Ground Hog Day.
But time moved on and at 28 we had the same conversation we had been having for a few years. I was happy with our little lot in life, and could not imagine adding a child to the mix.
However in this particular conversation (held at the Spur – how symbolic is that of where we would be spending many many future meals) I realised that “next year” was never going to come for me.
It just was never going to come. And I think at that point he knew. He might have been suspicious before, but I think at that moment he knew.
I felt that if I stuck to my resolve of not wanting children then odds are that I risked Kennith leaving me. I wondered if I would stick to my resolve and “see what happened” – but the truth was I was too afraid to see “where this went.”
I was too chicken to see if he left me …. because what if he did?
I decided instead to opt for the lesser known road of deciding that the idea of kids no longer revolted me – sure I was not exactly running into the light in ecstasy - but maybe there was a slither of hope that it might not be as bad as I had thought.
Based on that fantastic decision-making model we decided to “try.” Well Kennith decided to try, I decided to no longer fight the inevitable.
I had Connor when I was 29.
Do I think I was too young or too old? Neither.
I was scared sh&tless, I was in over my head, and I had no idea what was going on. I was in over my head and I felt like I was drowning most of the time. I was unprepared, totally lost, totally not ready and when I think back now I feel very sorry for me actually.
But – and here is the but – I had 29 years of life experience under my belt. I had spent six years with Kennith cohabitation and fighting over who is going to change the toilet roll, and whose turn it was to do the passer-by dishes. I was reasonably mature, I lived a reasonable stable life, and I had my sh&t together.
I thought at the time I knew me, and I knew him.
But the reality is that when you throw a 3.25 kg wrinkled baby into the mix, you realise it is a bit like being on “the weakest link” - you sort of know the answers, but get really scared when the lights flash at you and all but forget your name, and then to add to it some git is going to write your name on a whiteboard and out for being the weakest link.
It was all pretty grim stuff.
I had my second child at 32 and thought I did not feel like I knew exactly what was going on, I definitely felt a bit less worried and anxious.
I had my third child at 36 – and I definitely felt less “deer in the headlights.”
But I am not sure if it is an age thing or an experience thing. I am 38 now and I feel like I have “nearly” got this parenting thing down pat. I have not quite got it, but man, I am close!
I think there are people who are couples/singles who decide to become parents in their mid-twenties, even their early twenties. They might even find they are a bit pregnant, rush off and get married and then commit to this life at what ever age. Some how most of them do make a go at it.
Would I have coped? Probably not. I barely cope now.
I realise this is the point where I should wax lyrically about what a joy children are, and how I would not change anything for the world ….I know this is that part.