First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the…
“Children are a beautiful blessing that can enhance your life in immeasurable ways, but I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t clearly state that they are not for everyone.”
Reality check. Kids are stressful. They’re exhausting, and expensive.They require 20 times more work than whatever you think is required and they will test the very core of your relationship.
Proceed with caution and never contemplate having kids in hopes that it will make a shaky relationship better. They won’t. They’ll shatter it. I read somewhere that deciding to have children is like contemplating getting a tattoo on your face, you better be absolutely sure you can live with it if you do it. Even then, you could possibly get the face tattoo removed if you changed your mind. You’re just stuck with kids. Forever.
Some people have this delusion that children will make things better for their marriage (or more fulfilling if they’re single and don’t want to be married). While that can be true for some, it is usually not true for all. This only works if you and your loved one (or just you if you’re single) are SOLID before the kids come into the picture. Children will not help a struggling union, or a lonely single life if you don’t already have strong peace and harmony. What they will do is demolish a shaky foundation. Think about it. If things are not peaceful and you bring a little wrinkled human in that will keep you awake, cost you money and annihilate your social life how can that possibly be a good thing? It can’t.
But having children isn’t all bad. lol.
I just wanted to get that out of the way up front because those are the things people never think about when they start having thoughts of parenthood. They just think about the cute stuff. The first steps. The baby clothes, and baby showers. Children are a beautiful blessing that can enhance your life in immeasurable ways, but I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t clearly state that they are not for everyone.
In our relationship, I’m the one who wanted kids. Out of nowhere, the urge hit me like a ton of bricks. It was deep, primal and from some place other than my conscious mind because honestly, I was never one of those women who dreamed of having a family. I figured maybe I’ll have kids because that’s just what you do after you get married (that’s a herd mentality lie, don’t believe it), but I wasn’t gung ho on it, especially in my 20s. The urge was strictly hormonal. It literally felt like god pressed a button and said, “you shall bear children now.” Meanwhile, Monica was like:
She never wanted kids. There was no particular distaste for them, she just recognized that the sacrifice required to raise a child from infant to an adult was not one that she wanted to make, and that was okay. Me on the other hand, I was having a monthly fight with my own hormones. I wanted them, then I didn’t want them; on and on and on until we finally said,” let’s go for it.” We were fine, money was okay and it’s what I seemingly deeply desired. We made plans, had a donor and were getting mentally prepared. Things fell apart, however, when our donor ended up getting his girlfriend pregnant and had second thoughts about having two children (we were going to let the child know who it’s father was). So there went our plan. Thank goodness it worked out that way. What we ended up doing was the best thing we could have ever done. We opted to be foster parents.
Becoming a licensed foster parent is intrusive. The state inspects your income and tax records, they talk to your neighbors, they do background checks, they make you go to parenting classes for a month before getting your license. In those parenting classes, they scare the hell out of you. They tell you about all kinds of kids who are in the system and what you might have to deal with (kids being destructive or having major behavioral issues (putting feces on the walls). I think they do this to weed out the people who are just thinking about the cute aspects of having a kid. They hit you with reality: these children are in the system for a reason and they need strong parents who can help them heal and become the high achievers that they can be. But how lucky were we to get what I think was the sweetest pre-teen in New Jersey! Even though we initially said we wanted a young child (that would have been a mess), this child was a PERFECT fit for us. She was very smart, mature for her age, thoughtful and just adorable. What was supposed to be a three month stint as foster parents turned into a life-long bond. She was 12 when she lived with us and even when she went back to her biological parent we stayed in touch and ended up co-parenting with her father outside of the system. She’s 18 and in college now, living as the young woman we always knew she could be. It was a great experience and Monica and I are both happy things worked out that way.
If we had to do it all over again, we still would. I think she impacted our life just as much as we impacted hers. We learned that we’d much rather swoop in and help kids who are already here than bring a brand new one into this world. And after hanging out with people who have young children, we learned that we absolutely do not want a baby. They are more work than they are cute in our opinion. Teenagers have their own set of challenges, but at least it isn’t this:
Think long and hard before you go down to the fertility clinic. Make sure you’ve done all that you can to make sure your relationship with your spouse is on solid ground and that you truly want ALL that comes with having a baby, not just the baby shower and cute moments. A few things you want to make sure are together outside emotional stuff are:
- Adequate health and life insurance policies on you both
- A baby fund. Even though you may get a lot of gifts from family and friends, most people are going to give you more clothes than you need and not enough diapers, formula, cash for pediatrician co-pays, etc.
- Six months living expense savings in case tragedy strikes or there is a job loss (you should have this anyway and if you need help check out Dave Ramsey’s proven, practical advice)
- Talk about how you’re going to handle child-care, if it’s worth it for one of you to stay home vs. daycare.
- Talk to family members you hope will help you with babysitting and get an understanding of how much they actually want to help.
There’s a ton more, but those are just a few things to get you started. It’s some of what we discussed (on top of how to explain to to the baby who its father was) when we were thinking of getting pregnant. It’s true that there is never a perfect time to have kids. You’ll never have enough money, or enough time or enough anything. But what you can do is prepare as best you can before their arrival (obviously this is different if you’re in a relationship in which your partner already had kids – anyone with tips on how to make a successfully blended family please chime in the comments section.). Take advantage of the fact that we have to plan for a family anyway. Why not think about more than the baby’s name, private or public school and what you’re going to do for its first birthday? The point of this blog was just to get you to ask yourselves WHY you want a baby and then figure out the best way for you, to bring it into this world.
I would love for couples who have successfully gone down this road to chime in, and from those who have blended families. What worked? What didn’t? What tips can you share that might help another couple who is thinking of expanding their family?
Let me know. And thanks for reading!