Embracing the Meantime: Making the Most of It

Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in the afternoon light of Central Park
Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in Central Park

For much of the last year and a half, I have lingered in a strange space of utter heartbreak and stubborn joy.

The job descriptions I have wanted more than any other in life have been to be a wife and a mother, but things have not gone according to my carefully laid plans. With that, I have had to reconsider everything I assumed for how I would live my life in my late twenties into my thirties. Piece by piece, I have been slowly letting go and burying the things I held onto so tightly.

Grief is a cycle – it comes in seasons and waves and is not always predictable. In order to not let my disappointment consume me, I have had to actively choose to sit down each day and list the blessings in my life. What is present in my life today that makes me smile? What do I get to do that I could not (or not as easily) if I woke up today as a mom?

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Shifting Seasons and Giving Myself Permission

photo by Kelly Dean Photography
photo by Kelly Dean Photography

I have felt my heart shifting for a while now.

As a single person and for most of my married life, I have stacked fun experiences and friendships and travel on top of each other so tightly that I left little to no room to rest. After graduating from college having studied the craft I loved and holding a degree in Journalism, I rarely wrote for myself, using up all my words in verbal processing with others and leaving no space for quiet contemplation. In my most recent years, I lived at the break-neck pace of New York City, simultaneously loving and hating the incessant rush and excitement of this urban life. There is always something new to experience and someone new to meet. There are a million ways to fill my time.

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Staving Off the Baby Rabies

Hanging out with Nick’s adorable new cousin Ryan

I have had the same conversation with at least four people in the last two weeks. On the 21st, Nick and I celebrated two years of marriage, and the same question is on everyone’s mind: So when are you guys having kids?

We’ve talked about this before, but it is a cultural norm for married couples to begin having kids about this time. It is a perfectly understandable and even acceptable question to ask me. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a very open person. I mean, I’m a blogger for goodness’ sake.) So this is my explanation for the curious masses, since I’m sure to have this conversation countless times until we finally decide to procreate.

Yes, we want kids, but we don’t have plans to have them any time in the very near future.

I finally have some pregnant friends as of the end of 2012 (HOORAY!) and I am beyond excited to play Auntie to those little ones this year. It seems the way I process upcoming life stages is to delve into the world I am exploring and considering as much as possible, and I can’t wait to observe these women in action. I am a researcher. A question asker. Hello… I picked journalism as my college major.

Being a wife and a mom has always been one of my dreams. When I picture my dream job, I see myself staying at home, raising my kids, being the “office manager” of my own household, and blogging to my heart’s content (when I’m not fighting infant-induced narcolepsy or cleaning puke off my keyboard). I know undoubtedly my callings in life are to love people fiercely, to write, and someday experience motherhood.

I so look forward to hanging out with Mama friends doing Mama things – chatting and holding infants over decaf coffee, playing in the park with toddlers, creating adventures for elementary schoolers. Sometimes I read the things “mommy bloggers” like Kelle and Glennon write, and I want to fast-forward to that stage. I can picture my future life so clearly, but I don’t feel ready for it yet. Does that make sense? I realize part of my hesitation is fear. Part of it is selfishness. But a large part of it is common sense.

One of the most convicting questions my Pastor asked in a sermon last year was something like, “Are you planning on living your life first and giving your kids the leftovers? You want your best years to yourself, and when you get around to it, you’ll have kids?” I admit, sometimes I struggle with that. I can, um, be a bit of a control freak.

An honest factor in why I chose to marry Nick after only six months of official dating had to do with my age. I was 24 when we got engaged, 25 when we got married. At 25, female fertility starts dropping. I knew that kids were in the picture for us, and that I would like to start a family before I hit 30. I’m aware that pregnancies don’t become high risk until after 35. I’m in the Northeast, living life in the shadow of NYC. I see it all the time – women who have put career first before marriage and/or children. I understand why they do it, but I am not aiming to be one of them. However, now that I am turning 28 this year, sometimes it feels like I am careening towards a self-imposed deadline that I am not entirely comfortable with. Motherhood seems imminent, and sometimes it’s scary.

I cannot help but feel that I want more time as a family unit of two.  Sometimes I am astonished that I am closer to 30 than 25. College seems not that long ago (but it has already been 5 years)! There are so many things I want to do first before kids. I want to see more of the world. I haven’t even flown across the Atlantic OR Pacific oceans yet, which I have wanted to do for a long time.

I want to strengthen my marriage. I want my relationship with Nick to have the firmest foundation possible. I recently read the daunting statistic that marital happiness declines for the overwhelming majority of people after the arrival of children. I know having children doesn’t ruin your marriage or end your life. But I do know it drastically shifts your priorities, your time, your resources – everything. I don’t want to resent my kids for “invading” my life before I felt ready to invite them into it.

With the acceptance of Nick’s new job comes the knowledge that we are here to love Hoboken for the long haul. That brings up new questions and challenges for how we live our life here. The reality is that the majority of people in Hoboken rent, because real estate is so expensive. Consider this – last year, the median purchase price for a home at the end of last year was a whopping $475,000. I would love to use my next few working years responsibly, to build the kind of nest egg necessary to consider the possibility of being able to buy a house, even though I realize we may not reach that goal.

So one of my biggest resolutions this year for the “family” area of my life is to aim to have open, un-defensive conversations with both God and Nick about children. I am aiming to find a balance between my selfishness, my biological clock, my husband’s desires, and obedience to whatever God calls me to. I expect a lot of tension on all fronts. But I know wrestling with and delving into the hard questions will be worth it.

What do you think about the timing of having kids? Did you have them right away? Did you wait longer than “normal?” What were the benefits and drawbacks of your timing?