Confessions of a Twenty-Something in the Verge of a Mid-life Crisis…
I am 28 years old. My parents, in-laws, relatives, family friends, friends, and strangers alike have been pestering me as to when I’m going to have kids. Right now, I really don’t have an answer. I thought I did. I used to think that my life was on track. I had set some goals that I have already accomplished at the age I wanted to, and I thought I was cruising along with no worries. I graduated high school in 1995. I went to college and graduated in 1999. I had wanted always wanted to work in the public sector and become a writer (e.g., be a teacher and write on the side). After college, I wanted to work for a year or so to figure out was I really wanted to do. Then I went to law school instead and graduated in 2002. I got married at 24 (while still in law school), clerked for a judge for a year, and now work for the government. The hubs and I moved to the suburbs (i.e., anyplace not in NYC) after we got married, and then bought a house in 2003.
The hubs and I have been married for about 3 years and 5 months (religious wedding). The hubs and I have been married for about 4 years and 2 months (if you count the civil wedding, which we don’t nor does my family recognize it). Now I suppose it’s time to start having kids. I’ve always thought I’d have kids eventually. I love kids, I love taking care of them, I’ve had experience with them (my youngest brother is 15 years younger than me and I’ve had my share of taking care of him complete with the waking up in the middle of the night to feed him, change him, etc.) According to my own schedule, I thought I’d have at least 1 kid by the time I was 28/29 years old. Now, I don’t know if I want kids at all, or just need more time to think about it. I used to think that people who didn’t want kids were “cold” --that was when I was younger. However, I now know that not wanting kids is not an aberration in any way. It’s a personal decision based on various factors not limited to financial situations, lifestyle, etc.
Why am I suddenly re-thinking the idea of having kids? Part of it is that I’ve been analyzing my life thus far and have come to the conclusion that my parents have basically told me what to do all my life. In other words, I think my life now is a product of my parents’ doing. Some examples:
--I went to college in New York because I promised them I would. They let me stay in Los Angeles for 2 years by myself to finish high school as long as I went to a college in the East Coast. Done.
--I quit my job after college (I only worked there for 1.5 months) because they told me to enroll in law school right away. They were scared that if I didn’t go right after college, then I never would. Law school was not my personal choice. It was more of a default choice that I went along with. Done.
--I got married less than a year in my engagement because my parents did not like ‘long engagements’. That and my student visa was running out and they were worried. So I got married. Done.
I consciously went along with the wishes of my parents because I was always raised to be the obedient, eldest child who did what she was told. I did what was expected of me without putting up a good fight. At the same time, these are decisions that I think I would’ve made for myself eventually even without pressure from my parents.
Again, some examples: I love the East Coast and would’ve ended up here anyway especially since my family moved here. Besides, I got into a really good university and I was more than happy to enroll there. And of course, I love the hubs and would've marry him regardless of what my parents thought. I just wish we had waited a little bit. I even think that the hubs was caught off guard with the whole marriage thing himself. We definitely talked about it and were eventually going to do it, but I think we both were going to wait just a little longer (at least until I graduated from law school or had a job).
I regret the fact that I let my parents make some major decisions for me, and that I was ‘pressured’ to follow what they wanted. I wish I had the chance to be independent for a while and make my own mistakes. I wanted to be by myself. (I haven't even had the experience of being single for longer than 5 months). I really didn’t want to go to law school right away. Would I have gotten there eventually? Maybe. Maybe not. Even if I didn’t, I doubt I would be floundering today. For me, I wanted to find a job myself, work, write on the side, and try living on my own. (By living on my own, I don’t mean that I still lived with my parents or anything; I had my own place, but I still felt financially dependent on them.)
Bottom line is that I don’t blame my parents. I’m not saying I’m not grateful for what they’ve done for me. They only had my best interest in mind. It’s not their fault they didn’t know how I truly feel. I did try to tell them, but at the same time, I just went along with it. I regret that I did not take a firmer stance. I felt that since they fed me, supported me, cared for me, etc., then the least I can do is do what they want. I felt I had to put their happiness above mine. I had to please them. You know what I mean?
In retrospect, I should’ve made things happen for me as opposed to letting things happen to me. We only have one life. My parents are not the ones panicking about how I feel right now. However, don’t get me wrong --I did and still have a lot of great experiences all by myself. So it’s not that I’m not happy. I just think that I would have been less unsure of myself now if I had more ‘independent’ experiences before I got here. Now, I can’t help but think ‘what if?’ or ‘if only I did this.’ The weird thing is that I’ve always considered myself independent in many ways. I never realize how tethered I was to my parents until now. Strike that. Actually, I knew that I was always indebted to my parents; I just never realized that I feel that the choices I’ve made in my life were not wholly my decision. Does that make sense?
So now, back to the kids and how this is affecting my decision to have them or not. (Yes, I do have a point). I feel that having kids will ‘confine’ me to the life I have now. It’ll be the beginning of my life as the “suburban mom with the husband, the kids, and the house.” Yes, I know that just because I have kids doesn’t mean I can’t live my life. Even rock stars/movie stars/novelists have kids! And it’s not like I’m this big party-person so who gets drunk every weekend. I don’t even do that. I know I can still do my own thing. But let’s face it –my own personal needs will be forever second to the needs of my kids. I will be sacrificing myself, and right now, I’m thinking ‘haven’t I sacrificed myself enough?” I’m scared to have kids because I might resent them. How can I possibly have kids when I’m still trying to figure out my life? Does everyone feel that way? Or is it just me? Am I just being selfish?
I know there is never going to be that perfect moment when everything in your life is aligned and you’ll suddenly know the meaning of life. I just have to take it day by day. I’m aware that I have a blessed life. I’m comfortable, I have a supportive & patient hubs, I have everything I need. I know I’m lucky that I didn’t have to struggle to get things that I want, etc. I know all that.
I think I just needed to vent out some concerns and frustrations. Writing it out does help. I’m feeling better already. I just felt the need to put my thoughts out there. Casting my emotional self-doubt aside, I know I’ll make a wonderful mom if I do say so myself. Like I said, I love kiddies and already have experience taking care of them.
In the end, I think I’ll be all right.