When I was in college, the thought of having a child seemed frightening. At the time, I saw kids as expensive, time consuming beings that robbed you of all your sleep. Naturally, I assumed that this fear would subside with time, and I would soon grow to a level of maturity in my adulthood that I would see past superficial obstacles like a lack of sleep, and place a higher value on having a family. It seemed obvious that eventually I would make more money, have more free time to devote elsewhere, and would be so enamored at the idea of becoming a parent that the sacrifice would be worth it.
Well…here I am. Financially stable, approaching 30, getting off work at 5pm every night, and the idea of having a child has grown even more terrifying. I look back to the naivete of my youth, and sometimes find myself secretly wishing that the accidental pregnancy I always feared through most of my twenties had happened so that I wouldn’t be sitting here having to actually pull the trigger of my own free will.
What they don’t tell you is that all those benefits that age brings to your life also bring a hidden consequence to having a child, an added resistance to change. To illustrate:
I have more money in my bank account than my younger years.
Pro: I don’t go into a panic every single month when my phone bill comes in. And I can enjoy things like beach trips and manicures and Vegas weekends.
Con: I have come to enjoy things like beach trips, manicures and Vegas weekends. I don’t really want to trade them for diapers, onesies and exorbitant baby-sitting fees.
I am more educated on the realities of childbirth.
Pro: Let’s just say, I am under no false pretense that this will all be rainbows and magic. Consider me adequately prepared.
Con: I have heard, in excruciating detail, the physical effects that labor has on your body before, during, and after labor. I have learned that there are parts of me I am not even aware of that will tear and stretch in the process. I know that a doctor could have her entire fist inside me during labor, that I will need to be “stitched back together” afterward, and that it is likely I will have issues holding my pee when I do jumping jacks for the rest of my life. 5 years ago I was die-hard about having a natural childbirth. I would now like to be gassed and unconscious through the entire process, thankyouverymuch. You can just wake me up when the kid is out of diapers.
Through years of roommates and owning my own animals, I have housebroken more dogs than I can remember.
Pro: I am no longer uncomfortable cleaning up feces.
Con: Been there. Done that. Over it. Any future dog in our family will need to arrive house trained, and in a perfect world I would place the same restriction on human additions to the family.
I no longer work 12+ hours a day.
Pro: I finally have free time to spare during the workweek. And by spare time, I mean time spent reading magazines on my couch, trying out new recipes, and sleeping 9+ hours a night.
Con: I guard my free time like ants guard their queen. The mere thought of losing it makes me die inside. That baby is gonna have to be hella cute to pry me out of my bed and/or couch.
I actually like my body & how I look.
Pro: After years of struggling with your average body dysmorphia and worrying that I was too fat, my boobs were too small and that my nose is too big, I’ve finally come out the other side and am actually happy every time I look in the mirror. Hey body – you and me? We’re cool.
Con: Seriously, I JUST achieved contentment with my looks. The last thing I want to do is totally wreck it with stretch marks, extreme hormones and parts of my that may not go back just right. See above: The realities of childbirth.
I am not pregnant. I am not trying to be pregnant. I am almost 30.
If a family is really something I want to have while I’m still relatively young, one of these things has to change soon. If only it could be the third option.