I've just been feeling prolific lately. I wonder what I'm avoiding. hmmm...
I was recently reading this post (on a believing mormon blog) about the mormon counsel to start a family as soon as possible.
I respect that many people have had different paths and made different decisions. And with family planning, sometimes the decision is made for a person or family.
I have to say, I personally am so glad that my husband and I waited to have children.
My path was different from the typical mormon path. My husband and I waited four years after beginning to date to get married. So when we got married, there weren't a lot of surprises. We waited eight years to start a family after beginning to date.
Turns out he and I are one of the incredibly fortunate couples who were fertile. We were able to get pregnant very soon after stopping birth control. And to get pregnant with twins without using fertility drugs.
Some good friends of ours have been trying to get pregnant for over five years. My heart goes out to them, as I know their journey has been very difficult. From everything I've read, infertility is one of the more difficult things for anyone to face, for any couple to face (aside from long term illness/a terminal illness in a partner). So I do know most days just how lucky I am.
But for me, I am so glad that my husband and I waited to have children.
I was able to go back to school, to take night classes and get an additional associates degree on top of my bachelors. That has increased my earning power and job options. We had insurance when the twins were born. While dealing with the insurance company, doctors and hospitals left much to be desired - at least we had that insurance and were not thrown to the whims of medicare/medicaid. I had a job that gave me short term medical leave while I was on bed rest for six weeks, and then paid leave after my babies were born.
So in addition to the more established insurance and career I had because we waited - as a
couple, my husband and I were also up to the challenge of twins. I won't lie, our relationship has been a lot of work and definitely had some challenges. But I can't imagine throwing children in before we were able to resolve issues about expectations and communication. When we started out life together, I had many expectations about what it meant to be a husband and in a relationship. Over the years, I've adjusted those expectations to be more in line with reality - but to still meet my own needs. It is a balance.
There is no doubt in my mind that if my husband and I had children shortly after marriage (or after dating), we would not be together. Or, at least, we would not be as happy and able to work through issues as we are. It would be hard to focus on our kids and give them all the love and attention they need without first having focused on ourselves.
Finally, both of us have been able to establish friendships (and maintain those friendships) outside of parenthood. We've been able to establish and maintain interests outside of our children. If we had started a family early, that would have been much more difficult - as children tend to take all of a person's energy and attention. We have good friends who have become honorary relatives (aunts and uncles) for our kids. I'm sure all this could have happened if we had kids at a very young age (22, 23).
But I watch my own parents (who started a family at 22, 23) and I think they were at a disadvantage to find these things. It's hard to find the energy to go back to school, to work on a relationship (and mutual interests), to work on finding friendships when you have a young family. The nice thing about waiting, for me, was that I remember (some days vaguely) what life was like before my toddlers were born. And I know that some day, they will grow up and leave home - and I will get to pursue those interests again. It's pretty thrilling - raising children is just one of many exciting, worthwhile things I get to do with my life.