Is there a right age to be a parent ….

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.

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19 Comments

  1. I’m completely confused. I remember one of the earliest posts I read from you were about how you and kenneth were arguing with you wanting more children .. something about being in a kitchen when it happened. So not sure this post is on the same page? If you’re not sure you wanted kids in the first place, and only just got used to the idea by the third, why would you want a fourth?

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 29, 2011

      Natasha, it appears the why is always the grey area …. I realised a while ago that just wanting something because you do, is enough, sometimes I do not actually have to draw up a spreadsheet of pro’s and con’s.

      I did get on the mommy train a bit late, but now that I am here, though I struggle with it, and it is “moer” hard work, but there is something in me that does not feel like I am done, like I can close that door and say, okay I don’t want any more.

      I still do want a fourth – I do flit between wanting a biological fourth or an adoptive fourth …. I am about as confused as you are on most days, so you are in good company over here.

      Reply
  2. pamiejane

     /  March 29, 2011

    I had my first (and only – so far) at 37. I never felt ready. I am saying NO to any more though.

    Reply
  3. Helen

     /  March 27, 2011

    I also think there’s no right age. We tried to conceive for over a year and eventually fell pregnant on fertility meds so we had clearly put in the time and thought right? Wrong! I spent the first night back from the hospital holding a baby while rocking furiously thinking ” what the #$* were we thinking and when are it’s real parents coming to get it?” My son is almost a year and I still have days like that. I was 28 when he was born.

    I would say though that for women keen to have babies they should try to get their heads around conceiving the first one by 30. Just because it gets much harder to conceive naturally (for some) after that and your risks statistically increase.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 28, 2011

      I think it is the contributing factor that makes us start “having to make” the decision to have children – when maybe we still feel that we need some more time.

      We know that there is a cut off, and that there may be complications and if we do not make THE decision now, then there is a real possibility that the ability to make the decision will be taken away from us …. it is a bit sucky being a woman with old eggs!!

      Reply
      • Helen

         /  March 28, 2011

        Which is particularly annoying when you consider an overweight, balding, 55 year old male still have a few years to toy with the idea..

        Reply
  4. I also want 4 🙂
    But I need to find a surrogate mother.
    I wish we could just lay an egg and sit on it for a few weeks. Birds have the right idea.
    Right age? Never heard of it.
    When I was reading this I kept thinking of that movie “I am Sam”. I mean, mentally, he was 7 -and he was a pretty cool dad. Of course it’s just a movie.

    I don’t really know what I’m talking about. The “leave a reply” box looked so inviting.

    Reply
  5. I had my first at 36 and in all honesty, I still was not ready. I suspect if I waited to be ready I would have never had children.

    Reply
  6. JimmerDee

     /  March 24, 2011

    I AM you (well, was you – 2.5 years ago). I wasn’t sure I wanted kids, but I’d told my husband I did before we married. It felt like it was part of the bargain, you know? Like I can’t tell him NOW that I don’t want kids. He’d leave me (probably rightfully so), and it’s so unfair to him since he’d have to divorce me, find someone else, marry someone else and then have kids and he’d be so much older and sad that he couldn’t have kids when he planned to and… Wow. Guilt.

    But since I knew I’d never be ready or even remotely long to have kids of my own (I liked my life!), I finally told my husband I’d just stop taking birth control and if it happened, fine. I figured I’d deal with it. I mean how bad could it be? Everybody has kids, and their lives go on fine. HA. Bloody HA.

    And your last line, “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.” Wow. YEP. That’s where I stop ‘writing’ (in my case talking to and being honest with people/other “mommies” – yech!) too. :-/

    I’m amazed you (amazed at anybody who) have three. Shocked you’re considering four. 🙂 I can barely handle the idea of having #2. I just never had that “baby” urge. Sigh.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 25, 2011

      I still argue that I am not a real-mommy, but it appears that there is some sort of trigger that did go off for me … it just went off in my mid-thirties. But like I always say, I love my children, I really have never met three more unique individuals who make me howl with laughter at how quirky they are, I just don’t love being with them every hour every day …..

      Reply
  7. Chaotic Culture Clan

     /  March 24, 2011

    Hello, found your blog today via juggling act of life …I like it here 🙂

    I had my first child at 20, 2nd at 23 and 3rd at 27. I wouldn’t change it, I have those failing moments as we all do but generally I feel in control of my life, family, home etc.

    We are all different, yet there always seems to be a common thread. I know i’ve had crippling moments of insecurity as a wife, mom, woman. I also miss sleeping in everyday, coming and going as I please and my size 8 jeans but in place of. I have Mia, Georgia and Joseph who light up my life in every way.

    I know I won’t ever get this thing 100% right, don’t actually think that’s possible as kids are a moving target, are they not?

    Check out my new blog if you have some time.

    Di

    Reply
  8. Darien

     /  March 24, 2011

    Dear Celeste
    I had my first baby at 21. It was a huge shock as I was on the pill and invinceable. After I had Wes I had to change everything about how I did things. After 17 years I was pregnant again at 38. I cried for weeks. I had a panic attack in Clicks after spotting the baby care products. I was (as you were, scared sh&tless) I had to start all over. My baba is now two and the most amazing little creature. I will be 56 when he finishes school.
    No-one can tell you when you’re going to be ready for a baby. I think the trick is to take one day at a time and if your day sucks a little, try again the next day.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 25, 2011

      I absolutely love this line:

      “No-one can tell you when you’re going to be ready for a baby. I think the trick is to take one day at a time and if your day sucks a little, try again the next day.”

      Very sage advise!! I might start using it myself.

      Reply
  9. I think that having your first child is such a huge unknown that it is impossible to know when is the ‘right time’. All that you can do is get the logistical stuff as sorted as possible and ‘wait and see’ with the emotional stuff. Pretty much hope for the best. And here is me with ideas of a 2nd running riot in my head the last few days. I’d say that’s a pretty good testament to parenthood.

    P.S. Love the new look!

    Reply
  10. Kat

     /  March 24, 2011

    I had my son in my late twenties on pretty much the same lines. I didnt want kids but hubby did. I love my son and wouldnt change a thing. He is nearing two and I am really starting to be ok with the parent thing. Now hubby wants a second one. The excuses are flying out of my mouth. I have planned overseas trips for work and pleasure until April next year to get out of it. Did you find it hard to decide on a second child?

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 24, 2011

      Deciding on a 2nd child felt very primal for me – it made no sense.

      I literally opened my eyes one morning and wanted a child – there was no rhyme or reason – it could not have been a worse time, but I wanted it more than anything. I did enjoy the second more because I was not as anxious about “breaking the baby” all the time. So though I was anxious and stressed about other things, I enjoyed the baby more, because I had the sense to.

      Reply
  11. Tania

     /  March 24, 2011

    kENITH WANTED OFFSPRING – U DID NOT. NOW U WANT MORE – KENNITH SAYS NO WAY. FUNNY HOW LIFE/CHILDREN CHANGED U. HE HE HE

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 24, 2011

      So totally …. now I am having the please please please can we have a fourth and I bet now he wishes he was back at the Spur at the end of 1999 and we had a totally different conversation!!!

      Reply

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