How do you know it is time to bring another human being into the world? This is often a very difficult question, as it should be! After all, when it comes to parenthood, it’s best to overthink it than just jump into it unprepared, unsure and confused.
Giving birth and then raising a child comes with a lot of responsibilities, both for the new life you’re creating and yourself since, as a parent, you need to hold yourself accountable and work on who you are first in order to ensure that you’re giving your offspring a healthy upbringing.
If you’re sitting right on the cusp of, “Kids sound like fun” and “Do I even see myself as a parent?” then here is some food for thought that might just help you tilt the balance in either direction.
First of all, there is this crucial question you need to ask yourself:
Do I like children?
It may sound basic and like the most obvious one ever but the reality of the situation is that many women out there feel like there is something wrong with them if their answer is “No.”
Rest assured that this is not the case and that you are not alone. The whole idea that women are innate caretakers and have “mother instincts” is just a social construct.
So before you decide to get pregnant, think very carefully about whether or not you’d be willing to spend 24/7 with any of the kids in your life, be it your nieces and nephews or that screeching toddler you last saw making a scene at the supermarket.
If the thought made you shudder or your face now looks like you just ate a lemon, then you can stop reading here. You are not ready and you may never be. And that’s totally okay. Breastfeeding and other motherly activities are not for everyone.
If your answer was “Yes” and you really see yourself as a mom that loves children, you can move on to yet another very important question.
Can I love and accept my child no matter what?
This should feel like a rude awakening for you if you really want kids but are unsure how to answer this question. Regardless of how much you want to be a parent, if you are not ready to accept your offspring regardless of their gender, sexuality, intelligence, physical appearance, health, etc. you must take time to address your bigotry and any other preconceived notions or religious bias.
Before bringing another human being into this world, you need to realize that it’s not just a baby you’re making. It’s a new person, with their own life and identity and respecting and nurturing that as a parent might just be one of your most important missions.
Loving and accepting your child should always be unconditional. If you are aware of that, you are already well on your way to being a great parent. Congratulations!
Do I feel like having a baby will fix my relationship?
Absolutely not! If you are in a toxic or failing relationship of any kind and think a baby will fix things, save yourself the heartbreak and end it right now. It will hurt much less and you will also avoid bringing a baby in a less than ideal situation. It’s not only selfish, but it also never works. Don’t do it.
Am I being pressured into it?
Are you having trouble saying “no” to people and often find yourself doing things you don’t really want to do just because you’re a people pleaser? No shame, it happens to a lot of us.
However, while this is not such a big deal in most situations, deciding to have a baby just because your partner wants it or your parents can’t wait to be grandparents, is a huge deal!
A child is a massive responsibility and it comes with a lot of sacrifices, exhaustion and changes. If you’re not as excited about the idea of a baby as those around you who swear you’ll love it, then you’re not ready and need to tell them to back off.
Am I financially stable?
That’s a tough one. You do not need to be super wealthy or have everything already figured out. In this day and age, that is almost impossible for most of the population.
However, if you are currently struggling to pay rent and put food on the table or don’t have a stable job, you are not in a good spot financially to have a child of your own at this point.
They need a proper, safe and stable, environment to grow up in and need a lot of things of their own, which, newsflash, cost money. If you plan on being a stay-at-home mom that’s totally fine, just make sure you have someone in your life to support you financially.
Do I suffer from FOMO?
Even after becoming a parent, it’s healthy to still have a life of your own but the reality is that, at least for a few years, you’ll end up skipping on quality time with your childless friends no matter what they may be planning.
You might find yourself saying no to a lot of cool things, including traveling, concert or game tickets, spa trips or parties because your young one needs you.
Has your “fear of missing out” been triggered already just by reading this? If so, maybe just enjoy a few more years of girls’ nights out before starting a family. It’s alright; there’s no rush!
Am I working on my mental health?
Not letting your own emotions and traumatic history control you can be really difficult and it takes quite a lot of time and effort to heal. You should focus on your mental health no matter what but this is especially necessary if starting a family is on your mind. Being able to process your emotions in a healthy way should be mandatory!
This is because kids are like sponges and can absorb all your negative emotions and internalize them.
To be clear, working on your mental health also includes you recognizing where your own parents did well raising you and where they didn’t and trying your best not to repeat the toxic history.
After all, do you really want your kids to grow up with the same childhood trauma you experienced growing up? You may be lucky enough to have had the ideal childhood alongside the best parents ever but chances are there are still some uncovered issues from your early years that you should discuss with your therapist before deciding to get pregnant.
No matter what, you are valid
As women, we are often made to feel like motherhood is our life’s biggest achievement or that choosing to remain childless our whole lives is somehow missing out on this big purpose.
Chances are, if you have ever expressed uncertainty over having a baby, you have been bombarded by shaming remarks from people who think they know what’s best for you based on their own, subjective experiences.
But know that regardless of your path in life, you are valid and are free to choose.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying childless and there is no timeline you need to follow either! If you change your mind later in life, there are always options but know that you are no less of a woman if you never become a mother and that your life is just as precious and purposeful as anyone else’s.