Talk of babies is in the air, and as our social circle gets older, the talk of marriage and building a family is becoming a more popular topic of conversation, and the million dollar question, ‘when is the right time to have a baby?’ I’ve learnt that there is no single response to that, it all comes down to circumstance, but in my experience the initial answer is never. A baby entering your life rocks your world from the moment you find out they exist, and in that sense you are never really ready. But you can be prepared.
As a society everything is now delayed a bit. The majority of us go to uni, we rack up a tasty bit of debt, then spend a while looking for a job to try and pay said chunk of debt off, before we know it we’re into our late twenties/early thirties and we’re just about sniffing at the idea of buying a house… if we’re lucky. Do I sound like a moany millennial? sorry. What I’m saying is, as a generation we’re no longer like my parents or my friends parents, and we’re not popping kids like me out in our early twenties. We’re too busy walking into each other whilst looking at our Instagram feeds.
A surprise “Right Time”
I always had the idea that Meg and I would be married, in our first home and “settled” before we would consider having children. Having kids was a topic we’d discussed on numerous occasions, but the summary would always be ‘when we’re in our late twenties, maybe 30’s’, for us that was the “right time”. Well, I’m 27 with a 1 year old so that gives you an idea of how quickly plans can change.
As I stood outside the door of the toilet on a rainy Wednesday evening in 2016, seconds turned into minutes and those minutes felt like hours when a worried face slowly appeared and announced the words ‘It’s positive’. We were going to be parents. This was no Hollywood movie moment, far from it. We were both scared, like REALLY, REALLY shit scared. What do we do? We didn’t have a lot of money, we wanted to get married and move into our own place first, we didn’t have the space for ‘the baby’ and in that very moment I felt like I’d jumped back to feeling like 16 year old me had received this news and I was light years away from considering becoming a dad.
You’re led to believe that you’re supposed to be over the moon, but then, like I aren’t so much excited, instead you become racked with guilt because you don’t see the positive side in the news that you are about to become a parent. On the night we found out I lay in bed staring at the ceiling until the early hours working out how we were going to do this whole parenting thing. I had no answers. Even now there are days where I question how I’ve managed to look after myself all day, then I realise I am in charge of another human being! But the reality was, there was absolutely no reason why we couldn’t do it. The feelings were, as I know now, perfectly normal.
Excitement > Fear
The fear in both of us was quickly replaced by excitement when were met by the happiness of our families, and that really is what it should all be about. The plans that we had of how we felt we “should” live our lives were tipped on their head and it was the best thing to happen to us. We’ve just got married, we’ll still buy a house (albeit in a little while) and the bonus now is we get to do it as a family.
Now, I’m not naive, it’s not as simple as let’s have a baby and poof mum’s got a big ol’ tummy, it’s more complicated than that. And there’s no doubt that being financially stable helps, having the best equipment will make life easier, and having acres of space in your home I imagine would keep you more sane for all the mess that babies and a busy life can bring. But whatever stage you are at, the little bit of fear that exists when thinking of becoming a parent will always exist. As long as you can commit to being a parent that provides the quality of life, love and care a baby deserves and have a support system around you, don’t let that fear keep you from trying.
They say that if you could see the total cost of a child to you over their life, it’d put you off being a parent all together, a statement I’m very much starting to understand. But being a dad has taught me selflessness, complete adoration, patience (only a small amount), and makes me see the value in every single day. That’s something you can’t buy.
So if you’re looking for the right time to have a child, you may well be looking forever.