I Was Barely Ready for One. Is it Responsible to Have Another?Michelle Horton
Of course just because you don’t feel ready doesn’t mean that you’re not. It turns out that sometimes it takes having a child to stop being one yourself, and I suddenly found myself utterly in love with not only this sweet child, but with my new life, my new role, my new self. There are many, many, many reasons that I’m grateful for being a younger mom — especially since my now-husband and I were both able to launch careers, make money and keep our heads afloat. Especially since I was able to become the person I was always meant to be.
But now that we’re talking about adding another to the mix, I often wonder When I wasn’t ready for the first one, is it responsible to have another?
It might seem like the pressure’s off for young moms. I’m not racing my biological clock, stressed about how many children I can have before my fertility declines. (And that, of course, is an incredible gift.) I technically could wait another 10 years to have the next. But when it comes to planning a family — specifically spacing siblings — I feel like us unexpected young moms are in a tough spot. Continue to grow our family when we might not be totally ready, or space our children out — perhaps further than we would like.
Even though I toyed with the idea of having an only child after Noah was born, I’ve watched him develop into a big brother. Affectionate and nurturing, he’s always the first to shush a room when a baby is crying and offer a sympathetic, “It’s okay. It will be okay.” He pats his baby doll on the back and puts him to sleep. He’s already named his future siblings (Thomas for a boy, Henry for a girl — both after his favorite trains).
Yet as much as I want to give him a sibling — a companion close in age to play with and teach — a part of me feels panicked. Maybe it’s because the rug was ripped out from under me the first time around, and I feel like I owe it to my family to plan the next one — and plan it well. Maybe it’s because I’m scared that the career I’ve built will crumble around me with too many added responsibilities. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid the added financial strain will put us back at square one, when we’ve worked so hard to beat the odds.
But then when I say those reasons out loud, they just don’t seem to matter. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel ready to add another child to our family — there will always be more career goals to achieve and more money to be made. And there’s no way I could feel less ready than I was three years ago. When it comes to acting responsibly, many people thought that having a child at 22 years old was an irresponsible decision, yet it turned out to be the very best thing that ever happened to us.
Maybe the most responsible decision is to question whether we, as parents, are ready — not whether our lives are ready. Because our lives will always shift, evolve, to make room for the next one. I’m sure it will feel like the perfect time.
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