On having kidz

1) Timing

I used to be a little like a social scientist and family planner combined, on speed! Asked around a lot about people’s perceptions to having children, personal experiences, preferred number of kids, timing issues, and the likes. Only that was quite early on, I did this investigation in my early 20s. No idea why.. I guess I just wanted to figure out the options, and besides, was always quite the ‘planner’ myself.

The main conclusion that I found out, was that people who had their kids in their 30s (first around mid-30s i suppose) most often said (and i quote) ‘In retrospect, we could have started earlier’. These are the women talking, all of whom were in a long, steady relationship before having children. Many of them had careers, and often also men who were less eager to have children, or just career-oriented, and not wanting to think about it. Some discovered health problems that further postponed having children. Eventually they became very happy mothers, some made greater sacrifices career-wise than others. Sample includes lawyer, planner (MSc), woman from my gym, and a secondary school teacher.

I also frequently asked my gynecologist for advice on the topic, but of course no one can make the decision for you. I never had e.g. a regular period, which is of course a sign of irregular hormonal activity, but not necessarily of diminished fertility. In my case also was not.

My greatest fear before having A-dude, was somehow loosing my ‘femininity’ and my appeal (yeh, don’t laugh, at least in my face ;)). The appeal part was rubbish, but some other things perhaps not. Turned out there were troublesome times ahead, but I never quite could put my finger on them before my divorce. I’d been married 4 years (together with my ex for 10) at the time. It is not so difficult to think about it now, no longer something “oh so freaky”. Amazing how one recovers and gets used to the fact. Still, not the happiest subject.

2) Ex-patism

One big issue with having children, is the help. Now this is immensely culture-bound, so depending on what you saw when growing up, you may have different ideals. My grand parents never took a VERY big role in our upbringing, so I had no illusions about it. But people from the South are often waaay more traditional, and are used to the help of grand parents when it comes to taking care of the wee ones. E.g. a friend couple of mine has had their mothers alternating their visits every 3 months since their oldest was born. That is, for the past 4.5 years they have had a grandma staying with them and helping out with the kids. Thus no diminished work-load, no problem going out to dinner just the two of them, no extra cooking, cleaning etc.

This is not my experience. I have a load of stories of how frustrating and tiring it can be to be on your own in a foreign country, with your family, with all the obligations and no help. Now don’t get me wrong, it can also be a blessing. Experiencing things together, both parents pitching in, no mothers and in-laws bitching about the upbringing of the kids or not visiting often enough (really, I think they complain more if you are close by but choose not to come). At the moment this is not a problem to us, we’ve found a way to share the chores and the love. However, Lulu is also a very healthy little chick etc. All these things play a role.

3) Relationship

Before having kidz people rarely realize how difficult a relationship is to sustain. Perhaps its just the timing; we have kidz many years into the relationship, and when the kidz are born, the relationship has already seen better days. I also think now that some difficulties etc. make you stronger. There is no such thing as an easy life. But the life you choose can be a happy one. Kids are not a choice btw work or home. They CAN be, but it certainly needn’t be. Also a man can choose to want children, and to be active with them. Even at the baby stage. And last but not least, having a child does not have to prevent you from having a wonderful relationship with your partner. BUT with a baby, the relationship also probably won’t have time to change a lot, not for the better at least. So whatever the stage of the relationship, that will most likely be the same (or worsen, if times get rough).

My conclusion is to have children in a healthy relationship, and otherwise try to work on the relationship real hard. An end to a relationship also doesn’t have to mean an end to a joint parenthood, to friendship, or to being civil to one another. It also needn’t be an end to baby-hopes, if there wasn’t one yet. Trust can be built in substantially less time than one imagines when being young. A new relationship, or the rebirth of an old one, can be the key to having a happy family.

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