“I’m not sure I want kids,” the twenty-something nanny said to me at the park as she watched her charges go berserk. I opened my mouth to try to reassure her in some way, but then my own baby started to go nuts and I had my hands full. By the time things had calmed down for me, the nanny had left with a frazzled look on her face.
Another twenty-something woman said to me while we were having coffee, “I’m not sure I want kids. I just finished my master’s degree. I love my new job. I don’t want to give up my career.” Since I’m an opt-out stay at home mom, I opened my mouth to reassure her, only to snap it shut. As I was sipping my coffee playing the housewife role, I felt like I was watching my career go down the toilet. Who was I to say anything?
When I myself was a twenty-something, I had also thought, I’m not sure I want kids. There is a mixed message out there that says, “Having kids is great, but it seriously sucks.”
I put off baby making until I started feeling the pressure, but remained nervous. Why would I want to voluntarily do something that looks so hard? Aren’t these little monsters energy suckers, time suckers, money suckers, and career killers? Did I really want to give up my glamorous DINK (double income no kids) status?
When the baby came, I did give up a lot. I walked away from a corporate career that paid me well, fed my ego, and offered a lot of fun. I gave up my high heels and pretty clothes, my nights out, and vacations. I saw my income go down and our expenses go up. And a few times I thought, I’m not sure I want a kid… but it’s too late.
Now that things have calmed down, and I’ve learned a few things about having a child, I finally have an answer for those twenty-something women. If you’ve thought that perhaps you don’t want kids, too, here are some benefits to consider:
1. You are part of a family. Not the family your parents created when they had you. The family you create when you bring a little baby into the world. You will have a deeper sense of belonging than ever before.
2. DINK couples won’t look so glamorous anymore. At some point, instead of yearning for those nights out, you’ll love your nights in. These are the opportunities to be together as a family to cuddle, laugh, and play. While you will relish the occasional date night, nothing will compare to the memories you make at home.
3. You’ll laugh a lot more. Whether it’s in relief, or because your baby once again broke a major social code, like farting as loud as an adult, you will laugh a lot.
4. Babies teach you to slow down. When your baby pulls on your pant leg to get your attention as you wash dishes, you will realize that the dishes can wait. You’ll stop what you are doing and hug that little person who wants nothing more than you.
5. Things that were once important fade into the background. Giving up that corporate career. Not going on that vacation. Skipping that crazy night out. You’ll realize you wouldn’t trade in your kid to have those things back.
6. Age is what robs you of your rocking good looks, not having babies. As soon as you graciously accept that, being pregnant and then sleep deprived doesn’t seem quite so scary.
Now when a twenty-something says to me, “I’m not sure I want kids,” my response is fast and simple. I say, “No matter what you decide it will be okay. But…there are some definite perks to this parenting gig.”