When I first got pregnant, I heard a lot of predictions about my post-pregnant life. I was fairly certain that I’d have stretch marks, varicose veins, deflated breasts. That I’d end up peeing whenever I sneezed and never having sex. Ever. (I have some stretch marks. The end.)
But there’s one pregnancy assumption so widely spread that it’s not even debated. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons my 20-something friends are waiting to have kids. And it makes me want to shake them by their collars.
I hear this again and again: accomplish most of the things you want to accomplish before you have kids.
Not being ready to have a baby is one thing — not being in the right financial or emotional place is a real reason to wait. But to wait until you have a list of achievements checked off, under the assumption that you’ll never have a chance to achieve them post-pregnancy, is maddening to me.
We’ve talked about this issue over on Early Mama — how common it is to hear and think this. Travel, get your PhD, snag the “executive” or “director” job title, write a book, pursue every goal you have.
Even the author of the highly debated New York magazine piece,“Parents Of a Certain Age” addressed the issue when referring to a 30-year-old woman getting pregnant: “A certain kind of woman — an ambitious woman — is just getting started at that age. And a baby will cost her,” the author wrote.
Babble’s own Jaime Morrison Curtis even wrote a piece on how she initially thought motherhood was the end of her adventures, saying:
Now, as a pregnant thirty-something parked on a barstool with a glass of water on what seemed like my last adventure, all I could see was my bright and unpredictable youth as a dying star, destined to vanish into the boring black hole of parenthood — a slow ride down a highway to nowhere.
Why does our society assume that our lives are over once we have children? Or at least regard it as a roadblock that will “cost you” the things that you really want to achieve. For me and many women I know, motherhood didn’t end our growth, our goals, our identities. If anything, it’s what fuels us to do more, to do better. It’s what refocused our goals and priorities — yes personally, but also professionally.
It’s what inspires women to change the world.
And while it might be easier to climb to the top without any other obligations or responsibilities, it can be infinitely more rewarding to share your success and your life, with a family. Not at all impossible, I might add.
So if you’re worried that there are too many unchecked boxes on your prenatal bucket list, know that you have many, many years to achieve your goals and pursue your hobbies. (Especially considering the most time-consuming years fly by, and they’re in school all day before you know it.) Don’t underestimate yourself. Adding motherhood doesn’t mean you’re choosing “that life” over “this life” — it just mean that you’re making your life that much more fulfilling.
What’s on your prenatal bucket list?