It caused me to think about the life plan I had created in second grade. At that age, anytime in your 20s seems so far off. I do remember wanting to be a teacher and have two standard-sized poodles. I would have either been dating or married and between 24-26 we would have our first baby. Well I'm turning 24 in a couple of months and although I definitely don't believe in the life plan I created when I was eight years old, my 23-year old self can't help but focus on my life ambitions.
When Ryan and I first got married, there were a few times that I was positive that I was pregnant. We definitely weren't ready, and of course, you know that little thought in the back of your head grows with worry by the minute. I remember two very specific incidents where I started to freak out. The first was when we moved into our first house and I was on a new birth control (wasn't taking any chances) and the oral medication made me feel nauseous. So I wasn't preggers and took myself off that birth control. The other incident was on a trip back to Wisconsin, where I wasn't feeling good but I wasn't on Mirena yet. I remember walking to Walgreens in the disgusting humidity of a Wisconsin summer and just sweating balls. I was nervous and anxious because again, we weren't ready and I had just graduated from college. Again the tests were negative.
I'll be 24 this year and Ryan and I have been married 2.5 years. Now I'm starting to feel ready, but I often feel that everyone around me isn't ready for us to have a baby. It feels weird to phrase that, other people aren't ready. But ultimately many of our life decisions are influenced by expectations and trends on society. My good friend, Lindsey is having a baby and got married around the same time that Ryan and I did. She shared a link with her Facebook followers about the timing of families and how people always have an opinion on when to have a baby. The article, Having Babies (in Opposite World), discusses today's expectations to wait and how people can feel guilty if they don't hit certain life benchmarks, if you will. The author of the article, Courtney, describes how friends of hers have been made to feel guilty about their pregnancy for whatever reasons. Courtney was told her entire life to be a responsible adult and wait to have children. It's pretty solid and standard advice. So she and her husband waited and had her first at 27 and second at 29. However in her 30s she came into certain health concerns that inhibited her ability to have more children. Everyone's biological clock is different, but hers cut off at 29, when she was under this presumption that she would be able to have babies for a good solid 10 years or so, even if they waited. She wishes that they had started sooner.
This article got me to thinking, because Courtney brought up a lot of great points that haven't necessarily come up in my life in terms of parenting. We have moved from a society where women got married very young, had babies young and that was it to what we have today where young women are encouraged to commit to a career and get married/have babies much later. The problem is that whatever the common ideology is becomes this social law. I covered the marital aspect of it in my post, I Got Married at 21 When Everyone Else Was Getting Chocolate Wasted, where everyone had an opinion of my choices in getting married. People didn't take into consideration my feelings, the impact of how they chose to talk to me about my choices, and ultimately they forgot about the two people who were getting married in the equation. As soon as I accepted a proposal at 21, everyone saw my life going down the tubes but that didn't happen. People forgot to take into consideration that I had certain factors in my life that caused me to grow up a lot sooner than many of their own college-aged children.
Now when all of that is said and done, I don't think every young couple should just have babies for the sake of having babies. Each couple needs to have that discussion on their own timeline, not with the influence of other people. I just think that in terms of our society, we need to cut each other some slack. People have opinions when someone has a baby at a young age, at an older age, doesn't breastfeed, has five kids, gets married young, etc. I don't know if it's just this kick I've been on, but when you feel like judging, think of an encouragement for that person instead. I can tell you that having walked in some of those shoes, they've already felt stress from people who are completely unrelated to their life. Empower, don't bring down.