You Don't Know The Best Time For Me To Have Kids
We know, we're young.
People tell us all the time.
With our youth and marriage, though, there are many who seem to know what's best for us. Strangers, in fact. Or acquaintances. Even friends or family.
Rarely, since we got married, have we been openly advised on what car to buy, where to rent an apartment, what town to buy a home in, or what doctor to go to. Any of those could use a wise recommendation, though, don't you think? Strange, people don't seem to bother with offering well-meaning advice on things of that nature.
There is one area though, that everyone seems to have an recommendation for:
When we should have kids.
I know I know... sometimes these sorts of topics come with the territory of marriage and that's okay. I realize it can even be meant out of love or excitement, and I get that. We've learned to joke light-heartedly about it and brush off silly comments. But as I think about it, and hear it more and more often, it's got me wondering, "Who are you to know when I should have a kid?"
In the Midwest, almost as soon as we said "I will" the comments poured in...
"When are you going to start having kids?" - this one still leaves me speechless. How is that your business at ALL?
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes..." - oye.
"You'd sure look cute pregnant!" - *forced smile* ..thannnnks..?
Then there's the grey area of just joking about it. The flat out jokes are the ones we (personally) don't mind. It's no secret that we want children so poking a little fun at the eventuality is understandable and more respectful. These people never claim to know anything about our plans with it, but maybe just like the idea of us joining the ranks of parenthood.
Now in the South, we hear something quite different (and always a little shocking to my Midwest ears)...
"Just waaaiiittt. Take your time. Don't start till you're 30." - I cannot begin to tell you how many people have said this to me. Strangers and everyone in between. Too many people to count, honestly.
"How old are you? Oh, you're a ways off from kids, then, right?" - uhh...
The thing is, their advice in this area will not change what my husband and I talk about. In fact, it won't even make us question our motives or our thoughts on the matter. Part of that is because there is a much better answer to such questions or opinions:
"We don't know when.... but God does."
There are people who get pregnant unexpectedly.
People who wish nothing more than to be pregnant right now.
People who are hoping to wait several more years.
People who are secretly pregnant and the world doesn't know yet.
People who are struggling with infertility.
People who are waiting and have no idea they will struggle with infertility.
People who are using contraceptives.
People who have suffered through a miscarriage or more.
People who are trying, and trying, and trying.
But no matter any of these circumstances, God knows and they don't. Even when we think we know, He may have a totally different plan for our lives.
No one would knowingly set out to tell a woman who is recovering from a miscarriage to "just wait a few years." You would't ask a woman you know is trying amidst infertility "when are you going to start a family?" How could you make the assumption that someone is "a ways off" from starting a family, when for all you know, she is secretly pregnant? Think about the fact that you don't know God's plan for her any more than she does. Also realize that what you wished for in retrospect, may not be something she will wish someday.
As the youngest in a family of seven children, I value large, close-knit crews. My parents married when my mom was 19 so two things seem very normal to me.
1) marrying young
2) having loads of kids
This isn't some kind of forbearance that we're hoping for as large of a brood someday, but for people who tell me to wait until I'm 30... are you assuming I want two or three children? Would you tell me to wait if I told you I wanted six? I find it such an odd piece of advice that no one should feel so inclined to give as it is such a personal decision that varies from one couple to the next.
The same is true for people who encourage it right-after-the-altar. Why would you want to rush children into such a precious phase of life? Because you think we should have twelve of them? Let it be! I know plenty of people who had children right away and are happy as can be, and others who wished it had happened later. Both would say, "...but I am so blessed to be ___'s mom. I wouldn't change that for a second."
People have babies when God blesses them with them. Some sooner than they had planned, and others far later than they'd hoped. Still, God may place children in someone's life exactly when they wanted them. Only He knows.
My point is, please, please, do not super impose personal family planning regrets or opinions on others. You have no idea what they are planning or if their plans are not playing out as they'd hoped. Chances are, they have different hopes and plans than you did. If you're already a parent, think back to the opinions on this that were expressed to you... did they help, hurt, or have any meaning to you at all? For me, in all honesty, these pieces of advice tend to go in one ear and out the other.
A friend recently said it best when she said, "It's all in God's plan. Sure, I wanted it a little sooner than it happened, but then that baby wouldn't be this one. And I can't imagine life without this one."
God's plan is the best plan. Remember that no matter when someone is blessed with babies... whether they're 20 or 32... it was God's will that they begin parenthood just then. Pray God grants them His richest blessings and lift them up. All children are a gift from God... no matter how old their parents are ;)