January 19, 2012

The Perfect age for Parenting

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I had my first child at 18 years old.  Let me tell you, I was not prepared for all that motherhood, especially sing motherhood, entailed.  There are no sick days, there is no sleeping in, there is no halftime.  You eat, shower, sleep, get dressed and study by their rules. 

Having a baby that young was really hard to do.  I had my second child at 23 and my third at 25.  By the time my younger son and daughter were born, I figured I would be a pro.  This was true . . . to a point.  I did know how to change a diaper, do absolutely everything one-handed and what certain cries meant, yes.  What I didn't prepare for was that you are doing all of that aaaaand caring for another child/other children. 

Having kids at the age that I did was rough socially as well.  I didn't get to go out on my 21st birthday because I didn't have a sitter.  While all my friends were studying abroad or working as camp counselors across the country or just simply having multiple spontaneous nights and days of sitting around in pajamas eating take out and watching television all day, I was working my butt off to pay for my family, busy all the time and sleep deprived.  

Granted, none of my pregnancies were planned.  At all.  And, on top of that, my oldest son's biological father was worthless.  So, this is not your typical "having babies young" kind of thing wherein a young couple gets married and decides to start a family right away. 

I feel like I missed a lot of my youth growing up before I was supposed to.  I used to tell people all the time that waiting to have kids until you are in your thirties is a very smart move.  By that time, you are financially stable, done with college (let me tell you how fun college is with two or three kids running around--studying, homework, going to class and balancing home/kid duty is the most draining experience in the universe), with a partner properly screened by you for ability to parent together and you have all your "young adult" goals out of the way (i.e. going to Europe, volunteering at a husky shelter, splurging on a pair of Manolo Blahniks . . .).

But here's where all the hard work I put in for the last eleven (whoa!) years of parenting pays off--I am not even thirty and I am: done with diapers, almost out of daycare (aka paying an arm and a leg) and raising independent children who can dress themselves and get themselves a drink when they need it.  When my daughter (my youngest) is 18, I will only be 45.  Plenty young enough to do all the things I "missed out on" in my young adult life and old enough to appreciate them even more.  Meanwhile, all my peers who did wait until 30ish to have kids will still be in the midst of raising them.    

So, the answer is . . . there are pros and cons to either side.  There really is no magic solution to when the best time to have kids is.  But, if you become a parent, I will tell you this: it does not matter how old you are when you have kids because you will not be prepared for it no matter what age.  It does not matter how "prepared" you think you are or if you planned it or not, things will still come up that will blow your mind that you did not prepare for or even imagine could happen.  And there is nothing on Earth more rewarding for all your efforts then when your child walks over to you for no reason, hugs you and tells you "thank you Mom for all you did for me today."  Nothing at all.

Printed Dress-Vera Wang; Blazer-A List, gifted; Bow Tie Belt-Vera Wang; Kitten Heels-BCBG, gifted; Necklace and Broach-vintage from Grandma; Earrings-Kohl's; Trench-DKNY

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