I love my life and my family, but if I have one regret, it’s that I waited until my 30s to have children. I thought it was the right decision to wait until I was a bit older and wiser before becoming a parent but really, I was wrong. Here’s why I wish I’d started my family sooner.
My husband and I got used to being married without kids.
Most people will tell you that it’s good to have a solid foundation in your partnership before having kids, and while I agree with this to some extent, it’s also true that once you’ve been married nearly a decade, your first child can really throw a wrench into your relationship. We’d spent years establishing a specific dynamic of marriage but when our daughter was born, we had to relearn each other entirely. If we’d had a baby a couple of years into our marriage, we would’ve built our relationship around our family and the upheaval wouldn’t have been so intense.
Like it or not, having a younger body would’ve made some things a lot easier.
Having another human growing inside of you is going to take its toll no matter how old you are, but there’s a big difference between a 20-year-old body and a 30-year-old body. Women who have children in their 20s tend to have easier births because their bodies are stronger and recover faster.
I felt like I had to rush to have another baby.
My first pregnancy was challenging and all I wanted to do after giving birth was avoid getting pregnant at all costs for as long as possible. But my husband and I knew we wanted more children and I felt like I had to rush to get pregnant again for fear of putting it off for too long and having more complications associated with older pregnancy. If I’d had my first child in my 20s, I could’ve waited at least three or four years before having another.
Your body doesn’t bounce back as quickly in your 30s, if at all.
Your body simply isn’t as capable of regenerating at 30 as it is at 20 or 25. You will never look the same. Your body is changed forever. Even if you’re naturally very slender, you will most likely struggle to stay that way for the foreseeable future. And while this is a tiny, tiny price to pay for the privilege of becoming a mother, I sometimes wonder how things would be if I’d had a child when my body was more youthful.
It was really hard leaving work.
I was very lucky to have a job I loved when I got pregnant for the first time. I’d worked my way up steadily since leaving graduate school and was operating at a level that I was incredibly proud of. Leaving the workforce when you’re in a high position is challenging. When you’re ready to restart your career, you’ll have to start from the bottom most likely, and that means you’ll basically have to do the work of your late 20s all over again.
You have so much more energy in your 20s.
Giving birth is exhausting. Having a newborn is exhausting. Having a toddler is exhausting. I felt great in my early 30s, but there is no denying that the 20s are full of youthful energy that no amount of pilates and cat naps can restore. After my second child was born, I could’ve slept five years and would still have needed at least nine hours the next night.
It would be so much easier to start my career again in my late 30s than it will be in my late 40s.
Starting back to work in your 30s is a lot more acceptable than it is when you’re over 40. By the time you hit 40, employers don’t think of you as an investment. You’re basically a senior citizen as far as they’re concerned. Attempting to jump-start your career in your 40s, no matter good your pre-child-rearing CV is, is very challenging.
I would’ve been forced to get my act together a lot faster.
I’m not saying I regret anything from my 20s because it led to where I am today and I wouldn’t change that. However, it did take me a while to take things seriously and get on track. I worked hard, yes, but I also avoided committing to anything major or finding focus in my life. Having a child would’ve forced me to get serious earlier on, and who knows how far along I’d be now?
You’re more fertile in your 20s.
A large portion of women spend their entire 20s trying desperately to not get pregnant and their entire 30s trying desperately to get pregnant. Like it or not, you’re at peak fertility in your 20s and even if you get pregnant easily in your 30s, the risk of miscarriage and other complications sharply rises.
I want to be there for my kids as long as I possibly can.
Being a mom is the single most meaningful and fulfilling thing on the planet (at least that’s been my experience), and I want to be in that role for as long as I can. Sometimes I wish I’d had my kids when I was younger just so I could be around just a little bit later in their lives.
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