When I finally opened my eyes to see the pregnancy test results, I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry. I didn’t totally lose it. At 20 years old – barely older than “teen mom” status – I couldn’t afford to: it was time to start a family.
Starting a family (and fast!) required logistical maneuvering as well as soul searching. I’ve learned many things the hard way. I’ve learned that being young gave me the benefit of energy and biological vitality, but that maturity and a solid root system are indispensable.
Thinking about starting a family is more than assessing your financial situation and career standing, as these things inevitably and sometimes surprisingly change. It’s about knowing yourself, being comfortable with changing everything about your life, and bracing yourself for what’s to come.
Do You Have an Ideal?
Know what you want in a relationship with your future son or daughter. Knowing what values you want to pass on can help guide every action you take with your child from womb to high school.
I knew I wanted to teach my daughter independence, intellectual creativity, and that she could always share anything with me. Knowing this helped me weed out unsolicited advice from friends and family and also to seek out books on new and alternative ways of parenting.
Are You Ready For Life to Totally Change?
Spontaneous late night dates have to be meticulously planned – in advance. Going out requires packing enough for a week-long trip. Your conversations will center around poop timings and texture, kids television shows, and play dates instead of the latest articles in The New York Times.
Friends who don’t have kids sympathize, but cannot really understand how much shifts when you have children. Accommodating bedtime is not top priority for childless friends scheduling parties or events. Toddlers don’t sit still long enough for you to enjoy hours of sitting and reading or talking to adults, and by the time they go to bed, exhaustion will steal those few hours you could have had to yourself.
Of course, kids bring love and laughter to your life, but they also bring hard work and a paradigm shift. Are you ready for it?
Are You Ready To Learn – A Lot?
I made so many mistakes. I had to tell my 2 year old I was sorry for throwing a temper tantrum because the car wouldn’t start in the morning. I had to learn how to tell family and other well-meaning friends how to, “Please keep your opinions to yourself.”
My daughter has first and foremost taught me that anything I want to teach her, I must first embody myself. If I want her to be confident, I must exude confidence, even when I feel like my muffin top is more visible than my face. If I want her to fearlessly embrace the future, I must be ready for unplanned events to spur me to change and grow.