Like so many of my friends, I am at the age where having a child is also commonly referred to as “hitting your prime” (in other words, you’ve had some time to find steady employment and save some cash, but you are still young enough to produce healthy kids and should be able to run after them). And although many of my friends are embracing motherhood and the child-rearing life (which I respect and admire), I’m not sure mommy life is for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids! I actually wanted to become a teacher during high school and completed a co-op with a grade 6 class, where I felt really connected with that age group of kids. Being around kids is inspiring and as a parent or teacher, you have the privilege of watching that little person learn, grow and try new things – the energy and creativity kids emit is so refreshing at times. In my opinion, parents and teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world: raising a human being to be a benefit to society instead of a burden; to have good values and morals, treat others kindly, inspire creativity and find passion in what they do, the list is so long. Not to mention all the time and effort [and money too] that goes into raising a child – you’re talking at least 18 years of your life devoted to that human and the first five years are critical! If teaching in this country were more feasible as a profession (apparently being an on-call substitute teacher for years is not unheard of), I would certainly have considered interacting with children through teaching and would have been satisfied in that respect. Alas, I did not choose that path and the pressure is on to decide if I am ever going to venture into life as a parent. And I know I’m still young at 26, but these are things to start thinking about.
The truth is it’s the little ones and the teenagers that I’m turned off by. The thought of a couple hours of sleep paired with incessant crying, eating and pooping (even if it is only for a year or two) scares the hell out of me. And I know every baby is different and they are not all noise producing pooping machines, but it helps if you have a competent partner to help you (and sometimes you just get unlucky and end up with a colicky baby). I recognize that raising a baby can bring unprecedented joy to new parents and the realization that their child is the light in their life for now and ever. I have been told that the things he/she can learn and achieve are mind-blowing at times. This is the part of the process that excites me, but I still haven’t decided if it’s for me. Not to mention babies can be so cute!
Teens are a different story, and again, no two are the same and exceptions apply. Teen brains make no sense sometimes (even to other teens, let alone parents). And the whole puberty stage where their emotions and bodies are adjusting and may be ever so slightly out of whack can definitely cause undue stress in a parent’s life. Aside from the physical and emotional happenings, there’s academic pressure of performing, facing and challenging societal expectations and finding their place in how this world operates. You want your kid to be happy and enjoy learning, and hope that they grow up to become a responsible adult who gives back to society and feels fulfilled. Even as adults, many of us still aren’t confident in our stance on life and where we fit in. I think as a parent, you should feel that you have achieved or found the majority of those things in your life, otherwise how can you expect to bring up a little person with these beliefs and expect to role model for them?
The social scene and peer pressure situations are aspects of the teenage stage that I would also prefer to avoid. As I was not your typical child or teen, I’m not sure how I would handle situations or phases if my child was exuding bad behaviour because I was an exceptionally well-behaved teen (my mom was lucky apparently - I matured quickly and bypassed the stages between 5-year-old and adult mentality). I learned quickly that just because something is the right thing to do or the best choice to make doesn’t mean it will be done, and this is something that I personally struggle with because my values and morals don’t always align with what is “socially acceptable” or account for those fine line exceptions. If I were a parent, of course I would try to instill in my child values and morals that I stand behind, but there are just some things that are out of a parent’s control and you can’t be with your child every hour of every day until they reach 18 to ensure they are practicing what you preach.
I have always said I want to adopt a 3 or 4-year-old – the perfect age because they should by that time have a regular sleep pattern, be potty trained and can now talk to tell you what they want/need instead of crying and you having to guess. And at an earlier age, you still have some impact on those critical first years of life. I would still have to deal with the teenage years, but at least I would get to skip a few of the early stage struggles. Then again, part of me thinks I would regret missing the baby bonding years and watching them develop so quickly.
And maybe I’m selfish, but I like my free time, staying up late to veg out or watch movies and being able to sleep in. I enjoy having the freedom to decide to go out in a flash and not have to prep the baby or find a sitter. And I like that I am able to save a little extra cash for travel or a few modern luxuries. Emotionally I’m just not there yet and I personally don’t feel I am in a financial state where I can really provide the absolute best for that child – I want to be able to stay home with my child for the first few years and have a strong impact in their upbringing while not have to worry about how we will be able to support ourselves, I want to be able to put them in lessons, send them to camp, provide a comfortable home and save money for their education. I’m not sure I will ever feel I/we are in place where we can provide this for a child while living in Canada – to say it’s expensive to live here is a bit of an understatement. As is common with many Canadian citizens, the majority live pay check to pay check and work hard for everyday necessities, let alone saving for a house or our RRSPs or even thinking about expenses and education funds for newborns.
Right now, the thought of having a baby isn’t even a consideration. Maybe I’ll change my mind over the next few years, who knows. Sometimes you just have to take things as they come, even if you’re not ready and I get that. It’s a choice and if it’s important to you to bring a person into this world and raise it, you can make it happen. All the parents out there who are making it happen, my hat off to you. I just can’t see myself there with you yet.
I'm a 20-something woman working my way through life in Canada, traveling when I can afford it and seeking out my passions one day at a time.