It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect - Erin's Inside Job

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

I’m afraid the comparison trap has gotten me again.  The insidious voice that whispers to me as I scroll through Facebook pictures and blog posts.  The heaviness that takes its place on my chest as I see that not only are my friends pregnant, but it’s time for baby number two!

I am fine as long as I know someone, anyone, who isn’t pregnant. As I get older, however, that number seems to decrease. Whenever I see someone get pregnant for the first time, it immediately feels like a noose is tightening around me. Then when I can start breathing again I find more people my age who aren’t pregnant and go about my day. Suddenly it’s time for baby number two and the panic really sets in as I look at myself absorbed in my own life, reading or writing and trying to change things with my words.  How I am so behind in this race and they’re already picking up a second gold medal as I stand at the start line and can’t seem to move.

I will be 31 in a couple months, a number that means nothing to me except the conditioning that accompanies it. I have learned to associate increasing numbers with decreasing chances of getting pregnant and so birthdays after 30 don’t really hold the same appeal as they once did.

Neil and I have always fast-tracked everything in our relationship. We had moved in together within 2 months of officially dating and every event that we planned for the future ended up happening years before we had designated it would.  The one thing that has gone the opposite direction, however, is children.

We definitely both want children.  We talk about them all the time.  We plan to have two and until they are more of a reality we collectively refer to them as “medium eyes,” interchangeably. It’s not so out of the blue; Neil has big eyes and mine are pretty small, so our child will have medium eyes because, as you know, when people procreate their offspring is an average of each party’s characteristics. On second thought, maybe we should wait a little longer.

I have always known that I want children and I can visualize that point in the future, but the part in the middle is hazy. The part where I feel connected to the idea and that “it’s time.” There is a gap between my current life and the life I see for myself and my family. When I was doing administrative work and not challenging myself I figured kids would be a good next step because “why not?” When I moved to Chicago and started to pursue more goals and opportunities, I moved medium eyes to the back burner (don’t worry, it’s off).

Marriage is hard work.  It is much harder than I realized, especially when both people are working towards becoming better versions of themselves while simultaneously trying to relearn how to care for and love another person. There are fights. There’s crying. There’s the understanding that even though we love each other we may not always want to be around each other.  It took me a long time to learn that these things are normal and they don’t mean that he is going to leave when things get hard.  These are just the basics, but we are learning them together and they are hard.

Children are even harder. I have found myself in tears because I am so scared that I won’t know how to raise my children to be healthy adults. To teach them that feelings are ok and that we have to go through them to learn and come out stronger. That they are loved unconditionally. That they should never feel ashamed. I want to have the courage to let them be who they are no matter what.

I know that there is no “perfect” time to have children. Along with the lessons about aging ovaries, that one has also been driven home again and again. There is no magic amount of money (ahem, Neil), no certain number of things crossed off a bucket list, and no perfect position in life that will ever prepare us for having children.

And I’m not saying the timing has to be perfect.

I just want to get a little closer to being the person that I would want medium eyes to be.


Thanks to Amanda for letting me Think Out Loud.

46 comments on “It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

  1. Well, the thing about children is – you’re NEVER actually ready for them even if you think they are. The idea of having children can be terrifying. I mean, you’re just learning to be responsible for yourself; how on earth can you be responsible for someone else?! And, everybody has his/her own opinion on how to raise a child and all those opinions are different! My best advice, having raised 2 of them and one of them is getting ready to make me a grandmother (shhh…don’t tell, I haven’t announced that on my blog yet. still a secret.) ;), is quit trying to be ready and just be prepared to love. The rest will fall into place. It really will. You become someone else once you have your first child. You realize that you ARE the right person for the job. And, I think you probably already are the person you want medium eyes to be. You just haven’t seen it in yourself yet. 🙂
    Jennifer @ A Hungry Runner recently posted…Who decided what the perfect body looks like, anyway?My Profile

    1. I definitely think you are correct. It’s the recognizing of my own abilities and worth that I need to achieve before I will actually feel ready. Thanks!

  2. We’ve talked about this–so you know I totally understand. Beyond saying what I’ve already said, I guess I’ll just remind you that my mom was 35 when she had me. But I will also say that the worst thing that can happen is to bring a child into the world simply to fill a void. I was almost at that point when we moved here and I felt so lost. So if anything else? Remember that you are likely to feel different in a few days–panic will subside. Become more comfortable with yourself, first.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Stress Reaction Recovery Update and A Serious #likeaSuz Moment!My Profile

    1. Thanks Julie! It’s definitely on the horizon, but I still need to work out some kinks in myself before I take that leap!

  3. For me, having children seems like a massive leap of faith. I don’t miss children I don’t currently have (of course!) and I really love the life I have now. There is nothing missing from my life and I am very frightened of changing it, in case it changes for the worse.

    My friends who have children really are unrecognizable compared to their pre-child selves. Different priorities, different social lives, different ideas of fun, different topics of conversation, different senses of humour.

    So I have no reason whatsoever to wait. I have the job, the husband, the money etc. If I’m going to do it, now is the time. I’m more worried that I have to make this “sliding doors” decision in the next year or so, that will massively change my life – and change me! – one way or the other.

    Two lives await me – which to pick??
    Hannah @ Will Run For Coffee recently posted…Running School ReviewMy Profile

    1. Definitely a conundrum. Along with many things in my life, when I was ready for a change, there was a mentality shift. So even though I am a little panicky, I know that for me when I am ready I will know it (or at least not be as fearful of it).

    1. Haha yay! Good to know there are similar boats. I know things happen for a reason and it will all work out. It’s my crazy meddling that gets me worked up about it!

  4. I’ll be 32 in December so I’m right there with ya on this one. I don’t feel ready, but I don’t like waiting because I’m not getting any younger. It’s so hard to figure out when the time is right because there’s part of me that thinks that I won’t really ever feel 100% ready to be a parent. Such a tough topic! Best of luck to you and Neil as you figure out when the right time is for both of you.
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…Barre Teacher Training Recap (Thinking Out Loud Thursday)My Profile

    1. Thanks Beth! I know it will all work out I just love to worry myself sometimes. I definitely feel you on the tug of war of not being ready and not wanting to wait!

  5. I am feeling the same way. Hannah’s comment spoke to me as well. I’ll be 32 later this year and DH and I are at a point where we LOVE our lives. We travel frequently, have enough money and great jobs. We are happy and healthy and don’t feel like we’re missing anything in our lives. But we worry that we’ll regret NOT having children. A colleague said to me a few months ago that you’ll never regret your children. No one who HAS children looks back and says “I wish I didn’t do that”. So while I don’t think it’s the right life for everyone, that comment was the point at which I decided we were going to take the leap. We’re going to Oktoberfest in Munich this fall and after that we’ll start trying!

  6. Well, I’m currently 30 (omg am I seriously?!) and don’t plan to have any kids in the next handful of years, so you’re definitely not alone on that front. I don’t think anyone ever feels ready for kids. Or like it’s the right time. I mean, having kids means transitioning from one stage of life to another, which is never an easy thing to deal with. I’ve known people who have wanted to be mothers for as long as they could remember, and even THEY had trouble making the shift when it actually happened. And then I’ve known people whose kids were accidents, and they said it was the best thing that ever happened to them. And I realize that isn’t really helpful, but uncertainty is something that we all deal with, and I don’t think anyone is as sure and put together as they may come across.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #129 .My Profile

    1. Haha don’t worry, it’s all helpful. I just like to get the conversation started with people and I always appreciate the comments. You’re right; it’s a BIG transition and a lot of it is fear. As I work on that I know things will naturally fall into place 🙂

  7. I want you to know that I feel exactly the same way. I was on a flight last week and a woman I know professionally asked me first if I wanted children (yes, one day) and next, my age (31). Her reply shocked me. She said “Wow, then you better get started! Or are you thinking one and done? Because then you might have some time”

    It took me a minute to pick my jaw up off the floor. What I really wanted to say was “kindly remove yourself from my uterus.”

    Ultimately, whether we do or don’t have children, it’s about being okay with everything. I don’t know when I’ll be ready. I don’t know when to start trying. But I do know that I’m totally over random people, Facebook, family, friends making me feel inadequate for not being a mom yet.
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Is Fruit Sugar Healthy?My Profile

    1. Don’t you wish that some people would just think before they speak? I would think that people would know to stay away from baby questions and put them in the same category as politics and religion. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but I never ask bc I don’t know the situation. What if they’ve been trying and there are fertility issues? There’s so much we just don’t know about people’s lives.

      I say it’s ok to not be a mom yet so that should probably solve all of your concerns…ha! 🙂

  8. Erin, I have six kids. I started when I was 21 and I had three kids by the age of 26. Divorced, re-married with two step-kids and one blended family baby. Six total. I had the last child when I was 36 (I’m 37) and I have to say that there IS no “perfect time.” Life is messy, and we just kinda go along one day at a time and make healthy choices, love well, and wherever we lack, we can hope that grace fills in the cracks. Love covers a multitude of “sins.” So if you decide to never have kids, as long as there is love, you’re okay. If you decide to have children and it all blows up, as long as there is love, you’re okay. <3
    Suzy recently posted…Dear Brain, From VaginaMy Profile

    1. I love your perspective! There are definitely plans for kids and I know from experience that things do not go according to plan, so I’m prepared for all that. I just want to make sure that I am a better version of myself before I try and bring someone else up so I am actively working on that

      6 kids?? You go girl.

    1. Thanks Hayley! It still feels weird for me to talk about considering pregnancy. I guess that’s why I wrote it haha

    1. I have definitely learned that throughout everything that I have been through. Sometimes the things I didn’t want were the ones that meant the most and were most important for me to go through.

  9. I feel ya! I’m 36 and single and literally do not know anyone else in my situation! So going thru my FB feed at times can be really disheartening. I want to get married and have children just as much as everyone else but for fear ever reason it hasn’t happened yet. I try to keep my head up and remind myself we are all on our own timelines.
    Jill recently posted…How Did I Not Know About This, and Other RandomnessMy Profile

    1. Definitely. I also like to think that everything works out the way it is supposed to. There are a lot of things in my life that I didn’t want to happen but in looking back I understand that they were all for a reason.

  10. I’m going to be 35 in July (and my husband is 37) and I have all these same thoughts. People keep saying, “oh you have loads of time” but I DON’T. I can relate to this so much (maybe more so – if that makes sense). I don’t feel like I’m ready and I’m definitely nowhere near where I wanted to be in life at this age. However, if there’s one thing I can gather from all the friends, co-workers, etc that have had babies or multiple babies it’s this; you have to stop thinking about the right time at a certain point and just go with the desire, the rest will work out, and instinct and purpose will all kick in. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel. You’re totally not alone at all. Thanks for thinking out loud about it. <3
    Erin recently posted…Literally Beets Per Minute #WIAWMy Profile

    1. I’m glad to hear that I am not alone in all of this. There really is no right time but I want to do a little more work on myself before taking that plunge, you know? Thanks for sharing!

  11. Oh, I can totally relate to this post! My husband and I started talking about kids when we were still dating, and then it took us about 2 years to say “ok, time to get serious” and then a few more months of my husband waiting patiently for me to be ready. I’m a planner by nature and I wanted to feel 100% but that never happened, so then I finally got to the “ready as I’ll ever be ” phase and then when I got pregnant I felt 100% ready. It’s funny how that works isn’t it?
    Katie @ Live Half Full recently posted…Thoughts on Being My Mother’s DaughterMy Profile

    1. Haha totally. I know I am close to bridging that gap between where I see our family and where we actually are, but it’s going to take a little bit longer I think. I am also a planner so I totally get it!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing Erin! I can only imagine that struggle. At 24 I feel pressured to be on the path to marriage, but that’s definitely not the same thing. I’m so happy you have Neil to lean on and to talk with about this. The medium eyes anecdote is absolutely precious 🙂 it just goes to show that whenever you and he decide to become parents, you will be wonderful at it. Social media has totally inundated our lives and has exacerbated the expectations and pressure we put on ourselves in these types of situations. Big words, eh? Just remember that what you’re seeing and hearing are people’s highlight reels, not their documentary. You are only in control of your life and your path. Other’s might not let on why they’re having kids, if they’re not ready, if they themselves felt pressured and actually don’t know why they’re doing it, etc. etc. You’re doing just fine with the path you’re on 🙂
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Leave Your Ego BehindMy Profile

    1. I think it’s still the same thing. You feel pressured to be somewhere where you’re not ready to be yet. It does require an ownership of where you are in your own life and where you want to go, but it’s still hard sometimes when you see your peers choosing other routes. It’ll all be ok but I’m just working through all these awesome feelings ha

  13. Everyone’s already said it but it’s true; there is no ‘right’ time to have kids. The moment I got pregnant I thought of all the things I wanted to do pre-baby still! But, I’ll be almost 32 when this one comes, and we want 2-3, with 2 years in between each, so even IF I got pregnant again right away each time that would put me having #3 at 36/37. The hard reality is that after 35 fertility starts to nosedive. Of course everyone knows someone who’s had kids naturally at 40+, but the statistics show most won’t be as lucky. Or, something could happen like what I went through (Missed miscarriage and D&C) and then conception could easily take over a year of trying.

    Not trying to sound like a Debbie Downer, but I just had to take a big gulp myself and say, “Now or never.” I looked ahead and figured I could spend 20 years on a career, or 20 years on kids. I’ve already put 10 years into a career and wasn’t too happy with it. So, I knew I wouldn’t always wonder ‘what if’ like some young moms do who think they may have been happier had they bypassed the kid route and stuck to working.

    The craziest thing is…the moment you become pregnant you’ll start to become a better person for your child. That vision you have of the person you want to be before you become pregnant, you’ll be that, I promise.

    1. Thats a good ending point. I know there’s still some recovery/past stuff I need to work on for a little longer, but I’m sure once it’s actually time things will all fall into place. Thanks Erica!

  14. I’m 37 years old. My husband and I got married in September of 2014 and found out we were expecting our first child in February of 2015. I share that information because I think it’s important for you not to get hung up on the numbers. Biological age and chronological age are two different things. Your story is your story and things will unfold as they are suppose to. I’m literally the last one of my friends to have kids and you know what…it’s awesome! They all have really great tips and tricks AND are offering to lend me all kinds of great stuff! Also, their kids will make great babysitters! Take a deep breath, relax, enjoy this time with your hubby and log out of Facebook 🙂
    Keli recently posted…25 MinutesMy Profile

  15. I don’t have the right word to describe this post, except for “beautiful”. Is that weird? Your honesty is evident in this post, and although I cannot yet relate to what you’re feeling (we don’t have kids and do want them, but not for at least a few years or more), I somehow CAN feel what you’re feeling. i do, however, know what you mean when you say there is never a right time for anything. HUGS!!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Monday motivation – learn from defeatMy Profile

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I think it can be applied to all kinds of different things in life where you feel like you should be at a certain milestone but you’re not yet. Thanks as always for commenting 🙂

  16. Oh, I want to be brave enough to write about this topic on my own blog so bad! I feel just about the exact same way, except I’ll be turning 29 in June. For us, it’s more of a financial issue (as we are currently living in my in-laws house, so it doesn’t seem logical). I wish I could just go where my heart leads me and just jump in because I’ve heard all of the comments before about how there’s never a right time, finances will work itself out, and such, but I’m also a bit of a planner and so I want to feel a little bit prepared…but plans usually never quite pan out like I’ve wanted to in the past. Life is so tricky sometimes! Best of luck to you and your hubby in this decision. So glad to know I’m not alone in my feelings on this one 🙂

    1. I have definitely heard plenty of people have financial issues and worry that they won’t be able to make ends meet but then it always seems to work out in the end somehow. I’m sure you guys will figure out the best time for you and best of luck when you do!!

  17. i LOVE that you wrote about this topic. we just got married in january of this year, and i am 36 and my hubby is 45. we both want kids but before i met him, i honestly never thought i had to have them, i was working on recovery and working on ME. but then i met him and loved someone else and learned about putting someone else’s wants with mine… then i realized that i love someone and he wants kids and that made me want them, because i love him and would be honored. does that sound pathetic? i hope not. i truly didnd’t want kids to just have them as a single woman, but when i met my hubby my feelings changed.
    anyhow, i’m saying all this because a) i’m older and never thought i’d be doing this now and b) we have been trying but it’s not as easy i thought it might be.
    we’re taking a ‘break’ right now and the pressure that i imposed on myself has been lifted, and we are loving each other much more now.
    kids are a big deal and if you have the choice to wait or prepare yourself, i think that’s wonderful. kids will be a big deal anytime though, i’m telling myself this as well… so i’m really excited for you and for the future…. and all the glorious events that take place on every level. 🙂
    danielle recently posted…Random SauceMy Profile

    1. It definitely doesn’t sound pathetic. I think that’s how these things happen. I try and just roll with what life gives me even though sometimes I also like to kick and fight the acceptance. I’m happy for you guys and wish you the best of luck!

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