things i think · things to share

In Response to All the Child-Having Articles

I’m at that stage in life where my friends are starting to have kids. Some of them are pregnant, some of them have babies, and some of them wish that they were having children. I’ll just come right out and say it: I’m not there.

SONY DSC
Us and our cat-baby. Cause, duh.

Not “I’m not there” in the “I’m not there yet” kind of way. I might never be there. The journey to motherhood isn’t a one-way street that people with kids have already gone down. There are many parallel roads, some of which lead to kids in a big momentous, I’ve-waited-my-whole-life for this kind of way, some of which lead to kids in a this-is-all-part-of-the-journey-of-life nonchalant type of way, some of them don’t lead to kids, and I could go on and on. You and me may be on a different road, and that’s okay.

I’ve read ALL THE ARTICLES about parenting (I exaggerate). Ones that say, “You better have kids right now ready-or-not or you’re doing Jesus wrong.” Ones that say, “You may not feel ready now, but you’ll wish you had them sooner once you do.” Ones that say “Having kids sucks. Being a mom is the worst thing in the world. Children are devils. But oh, they’re great too.” And you get what I’m saying.

I haven’t read too many articles or blog posts that accurately expresses how I feel about having kids one day. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way? But I know that’s not true. When Whit and I spent months and months meeting with couples to talk to them about our ministry, over and over again, after responding “not yet” to the “do you have kids?” question, we got the advice to “wait! as long as you can! It’s better for your marriage. Once you have kids you can’t go back to the time when it was just the two of you.” That affirmed our decision to continue trying to not have them yet. But where is that advice on the internet? I haven’t seen it…

I love Jesus, got married young (22), have been married for over four years, and kids still aren’t anywhere on our radar. Some people might be a little shocked to hear that, and question if that’s really possible, but I am equally a little shocked whenever I see yet another pregnancy announcement on Facebook because you guys are still young and don’t you know that babies are hard?!

I feel stuck in the middle of two raging diatribes.

On one side there are the Christians who love God and love people and by golly you better believe they love babies too. To me this group comes across as broadcasting a message of baby-having to all the world, as if that is God’s greatest will for Christ-followers. (Let’s not get into theology right now, but I have never been fully convinced that the “be fruitful and multiply” command was for more people than Adam and Eve, and Noah’s family. But I would love to have a conversation about that one day…) Waiting “awhile” means no more than 2-3 years after your wedding. Or, if you have to wait longer than that, it’s because of some obstacle, like finances or career or it takes longer than you’d like.

On the other side there is the secular standpoint of dilly-dallying on marriage, possibly career, and definitely babies. This is the side that you hear about in Buzzfeed or other articles, the group that brings about the Gen Y delayed-adulthood statistics. This group brings the message of, it’s fine – you don’t need to have a direction in life, just live downtown with your friends, spend a lot of money on food and travel, try out a career or two, date around until you’re really, really, super sure you want to get married, and then have kids, way later. God doesn’t need to be part of that decision.

In real life, I wouldn’t say that my friends and people I know fall into either one of those standpoints, however, these are the two campgrounds that are most inhabited by opinionated internet authors. Unfortunately, I have not come across too many parenting or lifestyle articles that I felt really represented those of us who feel like we’re in the middle of the camp.

Of course, I know that there’s a HUGE element of leaving it all in God’s hands. Maybe you didn’t want to have kids so early, but you started trying just in case it took a really long time, but it happened sooner than you expected. I also don’t want to disrespect anyone on the opposite side of the spectrum, who would love to have kids, but it isn’t happening for them.

But the group I feel is most underrepresented is the one I’m in. What about people who do care about their career, but are also Christians? How about an article for the couple who gets married young, but wants to wait 5 or (gasp) more years before having kids? I know I’m not the only person who is married but neither me nor my spouse have a strong desire to have kids. I would love to read an article (or talk to someone wise and godly – I could name several of you :)) about seeking God in career, and waiting to try to have children.

1923798_1010335429800_5087_n
Maybe we’ll just have a zoo….

I am a Christian, seeking Jesus’ will for my life, and He is not leading us to have children right now. Or in the next two years. Or maybe more. God’s will for my and Whit’s life right now, as far as we can see, is for me to go to grad school. It could be God’s plan to lead us to take this step, and then He’ll switch things up on us, because sometimes that’s how God does, which we’re open to and {hopefully we’d be} okay with! But I just want to be one tiny voice on the internet saying it’s okay if you don’t want to have kids…. anytime soon. And my anytime soon is 5-25 years. Because I know there are others of you, not just me, who might feel a little anxious when other people’s “anytime soon” is actually pretty soon in your eyes.

I’m not one of those people who always wanted to be a mom. Or a wife (well, I did wanted to get married one day, but as long as I went on a date before I died I decided I would be okay with my life! No one liked me in high school! hah). I threw my baby doll out the car window one Christmas because I LIKE STUFFED ANIMALS, NOT DOLLS. My parents figured it out after that one. 😉

I honestly am just not interested in babies. Only in the past couple of years have I started to think that some babies are cute, and have a small desire to have one of my own. In general, I just don’t get what the big deal is.

I do love children, because they’re fun. And I’m fun, and I like to have fun. I like to have the mindset of a child – creative, imaginative, limitless, blunt, hilarious, silly. Maybe I don’t want to have kids yet because I still feel like a kid in a lot of ways. I distinctly remember my thoughts and attitudes as a child and I don’t feel far enough away from those thoughts to become one stage adult-er.

Maybe I feel like it’s still too soon for “daddy” to be anyone else other than the hero my dad was, and still is, for me.

But I also follow the logic that whenever Whit and I do have kids (if we do), they won’t just be babies. They’ll be babies for a very short amount of time…. and after that, we’ll still have them. We’ll still have them when they’re five and toothless, when they’re six and sticky, when they’re eleven-year-old know-it-alls, and when they’re fifteen year-old drivers. I want to wait to begin that whole process, because it never ends. Just like you can’t have a puppy that doesn’t grow into a dog that is with you for the rest of its life, you can’t have a baby that doesn’t grow into a person who is with you constantly for ~18 years.

And can we please stop using the phrase “starting a family?” You start a family when you get married. I think it’s disrespectful to people who choose not to have kids, or can’t have them, to use that phrase, because it implies that you don’t have a family yet, which is so false.

So to sum up this big ramble, I don’t have baby fever, or some great desire to want to be a mom, or even really like babies that much (though I do like some specific babies…). I would like to have kids one day, for mostly logical reasons. And if you’re in that same boat, can I get a high five?

For everyone who wants to say “do people think that baby is actually cute?” and wants to ask, “why did you decide to have kids?” and wants to say “Isn’t having a cat the same as having a kid?” this post is for you. Amen.

PS: I did really like this post. It seems to give a wider picture of parenthood than a lot of baby- or toddler-focused articles.

PPS: This doesn’t mean I was lying when I wished you congratulations on your new family member or on your adorable baby belly. As well, for those of you trying to conceive, know that I pray for you often, that God would fulfill the desires of your heart, even though I may not share that same desire. Peace, friends! 🙂

PPPS: More things I like, and think, about children 🙂

Save

4 thoughts on “In Response to All the Child-Having Articles

  1. Uhm, your cat is the most adorable in the world and I just want to snuggle its little fuzzy face!

    But I’m right there with you Syndi… we’ve been married almost 5 years too and while we’re now approaching the “maybe we should think about this a bit more” stage, we’re been in the “if it happens it happens, but we’re not really pushing for it” stage for a long time now. We never talked about immediately having kids when we were engaged or just dating, and some people just don’t get it. My mom is almost begging us to have kids, and she just can’t understand why we’re not trying really hard to give her grandbabies. There’s something magical about figuring your own life out first, and spending those years together without children. Once we have kids we’ll have them forever, so I’m seriously not rushing!

    I agree that it’s disrespectful to not consider a married couple a family until they have kids. Some never will! Some are trying and can’t, and that’s really painful!

    The weekend after we returned from our honeymoon we visited my parents’ to pick up some things from the wedding and went with them to church. I knew their pastor, but not really personally. We weren’t close… so you can imagine my shock when he shook my hand on the way out the door and – in front of everyone – asked me “so, are you pregnant yet?” Mind, I’ve been married 8 DAYS at this point! I responded a flat “no…!?” (and, ahem, I KNEW I wasn’t because you know, us girls have this amazing way of knowing which happened to show up that Saturday morning), and he goes “You should never say no! You should only ever say ‘I don’t know.'” Of course this guy is the type who doesn’t believe that women should use birth control (we’re not Catholic!?) and his wife has repetitively popped out babies (I think they’re at 7 now?) but it was just highly disrespectful to ask me that in the first place, especially not in front of everyone at church. Ok, that was my rant hahaha.

    The point is, it’s no one’s business why you aren’t having kids right now or why you don’t already have them. It can be a painful and loaded question for some, and I don’t know why people feel like they have the right to pry about something so personal.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Emily! I’m glad to hear we’re not the only ones constantly being asked but not really thinking seriously about having kids yet. Fortunately my mom realized that me/my husband and my brother/SIL aren’t planning to have kids anytime soon so she and my dad got a new puppy. It’s been a good distraction for them 😉 That’s awful about what that pastor said!! So ungracious.

      Like

  2. I feel like the camp you are in is totally normal! Several of my closest friends here waited until 35 or later to have kids (and they had married young). They pursued their careers and just enjoyed married life and then had kids when they were ready. I also think that as Christians we have no idea when/if God will lead us to have children. I was all about waiting 5+ years, sometimes even (half) joked that we were on a 10-year plan. I always thought that we would decide to start having kids as a response to a rational decision (we don’t want to be super old parents, etc.) rather than just a reaction to baby fever or a really strong desire to have kids. But slowly, and at the same time all of a sudden, I had that really strong desire to start having kids! It was unexpected, but clearly what God had intended for us! I think you’ll know if/when you’re ready, and if you’re never ready, then that’s totally fine too!

    Like

  3. Thanks so much for the response, Sherri! It means a lot to hear your thoughts, especially when you were in a similar place but God changed your heart & plans. It’s encouraging to hear that other believers have waited a long time after getting married to have kids! That’s not the case with people that I know, as in general, in Cru and couples at our church tend to have kids pretty young or quickly after marrying. It’s definitely not true for everyone I know, and I do know people who have started having kids for other reasons than a strong desire, but I’d love to hear more people’s thoughts on the subject. I’d also love to hear your (or other people’s) opinions on what that desire feels like to have kids, since I don’t have it 😉

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s