29 April 2012

social commentary Sunday . . . 'what made you stop & have a baby??'

Greetings all,
Really wanted to title this post . . . 'who are you listening to when it comes to what age you should be having children, career/ baby/ finances blah blah blah??'  
Maybe it's the school holidays with lazy mornings that i've noticed, all over the breakfast & morning shows, this debate . . . what age is right to have a baby??  What is more important first - career/ home/ money/ travel??  You can mix it up!!  To save writing a full essay, we'll just assume 'right' = 'a suitable stage in your life' & you've met your baby making partner too.  I genuinely wonder who want-to-be-mothers-one-day are actually talking to??  Is it their baby making partner, family, friends, colleagues, bosses, other mothers, themselves . . . versus listening to statistics, celebrities & what 'they' say??  In the words of the great Dr Phil - "who is 'they', did 'they' graduate from 'They' University??"  When did we stop making decisions for ourselves exactly??  Talking to real people about their real experiences, not googling & comparing ourselves to statistics (so easily skewed to create a talking point) . . . about the most important thing you'll ever do - raise a human being!!  
Apparently 'having a baby' rates very low on the list of things young women want in their life these days.  Do these young women know fertility declines dramatically from the age of 27 & IVF is not a guaranteed 'back up'.  No one ever seems to bring this up, biological clocks are ticking away, but everyone assumes it's after the age of 35 or 40 (Hollywood doesn't help this myth with older mothers making fertility look effortless.)  Actress Melissa George was quoted as saying, after the breakup of her marriage & idea of meeting someone new + having a baby . . . "i still have time, i'm only 35." Age & fertility is one limit few can defy.
Please know i am all for people who decide not to have children, i believe it's a bigger decision not to have them, it's not at all selfish or whatever people think about childless-by-choice people.  Good on you, you have a different quality of life.
I remember hearing magazine editor Deborah Thomas once saying "ooppss i forgot to have a baby" & i lost instant respect for her.  How do you forget??  I was ambitious about a future career, wanted 4 children, a nice home, university education . . . a husband was on the 'life check list' too when i left school.  Call me a naive giddy teenager, i knew from the moment i met my husband, he was my future . . . it was so natural to chat about babies, houses, hopes & dreams.  I was playing it cool (i read Marie Claire, i knew not to appear desperate) . . . he raised these long-term-relationship topics, aged 22.  We had a collective dozen nieces & nephews already, we knew what it took to have/ raise/ fund/ love a child.  We are apparently in the small minority though - thinking, planning, wanting babies while we were really young.      
What is financial security??  Who ever has enough money to afford a baby??  Most Australians live with a home ownership dream/ obsession, slipping a baby in the mix with the reduction/ pause to one salary, it's near impossible for most.  So you've met your life partner, do you have a baby now versus the heartache & expense of potential fertility issues later??  I heard one journalist say only 2 of her friends had babies in their 20s, both accidents, yet both said it was the best thing that ever happened to them - accidentally starting their families.  This journalist didn't mention that she struggled to have babies in her early 40s after years of IVF - was she listening to those friends or focussed on that news anchor position??  Especially since she insists, becoming a mother is her greatest role.  Really??  Or did she work that out afterwards??  So many of us mummies will scream from the rooftops, being a mum is the best thing ever, career can pause & living in a modest home is happiness too.    
I'm perhaps unqualified to discuss this subject as i was pregnant at 23, planned, i had just finished Uni & was married to a Lance Corporal (one rank up from Private soldier), we knew were never going to be rich with the 4 children plan, we struggled, but we loved every minute of it & made it work (cloth nappies, breastfeeding, homemade everything, minimal toys & zero takeaway/ holidays/ childcare/ new cars.)  Sure the Army provide a reduced-market-rental roof over our heads so an immediate mortgage wasn't a financial pressure, but we saved to buy investment properties (when our first child was born & i worked full time in the oil industry) which kept us poor in the present, but set us up for a financial future.  People are constantly saying to me "wish i had my children younger" for reasons of energy, expectations & mindset.  Well yes, i was a 35 year old high school mum with energy to burn & remember high school vividly . . . i just spent Saturday night curled up with my teenager, watching movies & talking about love, marriage, hopes & dreams - but i am very much her mother, not her girlfriend.  
How many couples look back, remembering the tiny first home with new babies & a broken down car, eating soup at a plastic table . . .  & say it was the best time of their lives??!!  
Did you decide to go for it, have babies & just see where life took you??  What are you waiting for??  Love Posie
PS thank you so much for the gorgeous messages about my last post, they absolutely filled my heart with warmth & love.  Our little chicken passed away before we went to bed last night, it was in the end, relief, in every aspect that the word 'relief' can be.  Today i've had that cried-all-day-&-night headache, but my soul is lighter.


Anonymous said...

Fist pumps from me on this post Posie....how the hell can you 'forget' to have children...morons! I was married and wanted children...18 week ultra sound on our first wedding Anniversary discovered I was having twins..and as you know you dont really plan for that you just roll with it and enjoy xx

pamkennison said...

How funny I was having this exact discussion with flyboys partner coming home from Anzac day. They are both 24 she 1/2 way through uni he an Airman,they both qualify at the same time, and he will have probably been deployed by then, they have been together 6 years lived together for 4 years at her parents house had their own now for 6 months, engagement will be short and babies will follow closley thereafter hopefully, she said that no plans for baby now but if one happened then they would make it work. Im a bit happier now cause i wasnt sure if they woild marry coming from divorced parents, it effected him badly, at least they are talking and making plans. Sorry to hear youve had a bad few days, Pam

The Provincial Homemaker said...

Just a couple of years behind you Posie in terms of overall timings. I married my high school sweetheart at 22, and we had Ginger when we were both 26. Sometimes I do think, what about my degree and the career I was just starting. But, then I think how much I would miss out on if I wasn't home here with Ginger (and soon, hopefully, the running late baby boy). Also, I just don't know how people have the energy for young children when they are older - my parents only had me and were older parents (in their late 30s when I was born). I decided early I would have my children 'young'.

supermac said...

I married late (35), therefore had children late (I gave birth at 36, then at 38). No regrets.

MultipleMum said...

I am an older Mum, Posie (first child at 31, unplanned). I've had four now.

I sometimes wish my hubby and I had started earlier (we were together seven years when we had our first child) but I think things happen when they happen for a reason. I still don't know what that reason is, but I am sticking to it anyway.

I have written a couple of posts about family unplanning. No matter which way it goes, it rarely goes to plan.

I am really happy that your situation has been a great one for you. I just wish everyone was as confident in their choices as you have been and happy with the outcome.

A great post Posie x

ally said...

Oh Jennie...this is one of my soap-box topics.
I was ALWAYS telling my patients to get on with it and that the myth of having it all is even more unlikely if you wait too long.
I had my first at 33 and no regrets!
Am secretly hoping one of mine will start early-ish so I can enjoy being a grandma too

Hope the kidlets are doing ok with the loss of their pet
(and you)

Anonymous said...

Great post, and a real topic to ponder. Having worked in childcare for eight years, I've heard all sorts of stories about the why where and hows of child planning. In my case, I met hubby six weeks before I turned 30, had our daughter at 32, married at 34, and am extremely happy with the way things turned out for us. I like to live my life on the basis that everything happens for a reason. We decided on the 1st of January 2009 to try for a baby, and Miss A arrived on the 9th of October! Perfect. :)

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

Oh i'm so glad you get my drift, i'm very aware of the head start i had by marrying my teen love. Thing is, i am constantly drilled about why i had children young, do i regret it (which is kind of insulting as few people relish being a full time mother more than me) yet i would NEVER cross question an older mother why they waited to have children, their face, thus the reason it fascinates me. So often it's out of their control, with miscarriage heartache, divorce, thus why i'd never put them on the spot.
I hope this post came across the way i intended, not judging, just wondering. I've had it in my head for a week, drafted it a few times, then just thought, click publish & let it go. Thanks, love Posie

Mel @ Coal Valley View said...

Such a fascinating topic, isn't it? I guess I was lucky I met my hubby when I was 22. Having children was really important to us as was starting as early as possible so that we had the option of a larger family. We didn't really muck around and I was pregnant at 26 and thanks to the twins I had 4 kids by 31. Slightly more intense than planned but no regrets. I think I am very fortunate. I do get a lot of comments about leaving my law career ("what a waste!" etc) but children were always more important to me than a job, I just didn't count on finding a partner so happily studied. Plenty of years left to work!! I think most people do whatever works for them at the time, there seems to be so many controllable as well as uncontrollable factors at play as to when people decide or plan (or unplan) to have their family. I hope this next week is bright and cheery for you. Mel xx

The Accidental Housewife said...

Hi Posie,

Thanks for taking the time to battle technology and post on my blog. I really appreciated your kind words. :)

We met at 21 (at the college!) and were married at 26. Baby 1 was very unplanned, a total surprise. She made herself known the day before my wedding dress arrived for it's "final" fitting... I actually needed a few more to adapt for a swelling bump!

Baby 2 was very planned but was conceived far more easily than we expected... (tmi?). Mr A was home THREE DAYS after deployment when she started growing. We thought we would try for a while and eventually it would happen.... But she couldn't wait! He's afraid to sneeze near me now ;)

I was very career orientated before #1 surprised me, I reckon I would probably still not have kids if it had been left entirely up to me. I'm so so SO glad it wasn't! I'm a very happy mum :)

Lois said...

I too had the first of my 3 children when i was 23. i am ever grateful that i had my children in my 20's as when i was 34 i got MS along with other auto-immune diseases.

My youngest was only 5 when i got sick, but at least i was well for those first formative years for all of them.

You just never know what's around the corner in life!!

Anonymous said...

I had my first baby at 25 and my last (of four) at 34. I am so thankful I had my bubs early as, at the wonderful age of 37, I m going thru menopause! Whilst I still feel a sense of sadness, I can't imagine the devastation I would feel if I'd left starting my family until now.

Claireyhewitt said...

Great topic, I was lucky that I made the decision, for a long time I didn't think I wanted children. Once I was married I changed my mind...and now most people can't imagine I was ever like that. My girls are my everything.

But for me, I do know my limit, and two is what I can handle best. There is also peace in knowing that your are 'done'.

emma @ frog, goose and bear said...

I was a youngin' too, although not quite as young as you. I was married at 24 and had my first child at 28. In my mother's day this would have been considered quite late to have your first child. How quickly in one generation has it changed. I was one of the first of my friends to have children. No regrets whatsoever, but I do think that for quite a lot of people it really isn't always a choice and that can be very, very tough.

Sindy said...

I may be one of the few who comments that has decided NOT to have children. This final decision was made at about the age of 33 for no particular reason except that I feel you should WANT to have children, and I didn't and still don't. I like other people's children, was involved with fostering babies when growing up and love babies to bits, and have a number of god-children but I don't want my own. Luckily my gorgeous partner of 6 years does not want them either. We get all the pressure from everyone from our families to our friends to acquaintances about what we are missing out on, and how selfish we are being, how lonely we will be when we are older, and how much we are missing out on. Maybe that will turn out to be true, but my simple answer remains - I don't want my own, and you should want them to have them.

Hot Fudge said...

Standing up and cheering - can you hear me? I was 29 when I had my first of three children. She came along nine and a half months after we were married, as we knew we wanted a family sooner rather than later. The rewards keep coming, with our own children giving us seven beautiful grandchildren. I always say that it's nobody else's business how many or how few babies people have.

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

Everyone, Sindy is my best friend in real life & i totally applaud her decision to not have children, she's also the would-be-God-mother-of-our-4-children if we chose to have them & were religious. Love Posie

Woollybutt Hill said...

I have had kids earlish and then later how can there be a right or wrong?! The only thing I can really say is that along the path of life intersections come up choices are made so roll with them and enjoy the journey for yourself and your family.

So sorry to hear your chick didn't make it. It is so hard when this happens we to cried when our first chicken ( raised from a chick) was taken by a fox..... my thoughts are with you and the kids.

x M.

Lisar said...

Well, I am one of those girls (women)who always knew she wanted children and at a relatively young age too, and always thought I would be a stay at home Mum as I have always believed that is the best job I could have had. However, having never met and married, I am now in my late 40's and single and no kids....I know so many people who have a career and struggle to conceive when they are older....thankfully my brother and his wife gave me a delightful niece and nephew (IVF). So I don't feel the longing that I had before they came along. Thanks for such great posts...and thnking about you all and your little chick.

Nancy said...

I guess the whole thing is about choice and the fact that nothing is free. I am old enough to remember the feminist movement beginning and the sense of freedom and choice. Unfortunately that also came with it the idea that women could do everything they wanted to do. Well I am all for choice. Women who want to should stay home and others who find it better to work should be able to do that. There is no right answer. I did not meet my husband until I was 29. I had my first at 31, second at 34 and the last one at 37. I found my energy depleted incredibly with each subsequent pregnancy. I just didn't have as much in reserve. If I had met him earlier I would have had my family earlier but it wasn't an option and my taste in men improved as I aged. After I had children, I chose to take some time off in the early years, but have now resumed working. For me I am a better person with a working/motherhood balance because I lack the patience to be at home all day. I also lost some of my identity when I became Sarah's mother and could not even keep track of the day of the week. I think that having the choice to work and not feel guilty is great. And my children are older (university and high school). I think that for others being home is the balance that works best for them. There is no right answer and each family has to figure it out for themselves.

Joyful Things said...

I wasn't going to bother to have children then at the age of 40 met the love of my life (who is 10 years younger than me) and at the age of 42 I had son #1 and at the age of 45 had son #2. Its all wonderful but then I remember that when all my friends are retiring I will still be putting my kids through university. Yay Freedom 75! Energy?? - they struggle to keep up with me.

Joyful Things said...

I wasn't going to bother to have children then at the age of 40 met the love of my life (who is 10 years younger than me) and at the age of 42 I had son #1 and at the age of 45 had son #2. Its all wonderful but then I remember that when all my friends are retiring I will still be putting my kids through university. Yay Freedom 75! Energy?? - they struggle to keep up with me.

Unknown said...

When I was younger ie. still a schoogirl, there was never any doubt in my mind of what I wanted out of life - no great life long career ideas for me, all I wanted to be was a Mum! Fortunately for me I met the man in my life when I was still a teenager, engaged at 21, married when I was 23 and had my first child the following year, I still find it odd when people comment on how young I was, as I don't think it was young at all!
All my babies were planned and I'm glad I started my family when I did, it's nice these days to have a teenager to go on shopping sprees with, she helps me to feel young, while I still have a preschooler at home with me on those school days to bring me back down to earth!
Life is never easy and I never judge anyone on why and when they chose to have children (or not), like you said things can so often be out of our control, who am I to judge, we all have our reasons why we do what we do.
Great post Jennie xx

Sally said...

We've just gone with the flow. Babies have come to us when they have. Not the right time, not the wrong time, just THE time. It's all good. I neither wish I was younger or older, nor do I think that the age I was was perfect either. It just is what it is.