Baby On The Brain? How To Know If You’re Really Ready
You spot a cute baby on the train, and you simply can’t keep your cool. You lean toward the stroller, you ask the mother inane questions, you gibber at the child, and then you touch on that child’s hands as if your hands are clean (or as if their hands aren’t covered in stickiness). You’re crazy…baby crazy. The child’s mother can see it and so can everyone else. Before you take that baby fever home, consider the consequences of “forgetting” to take your pill, or deciding that you wouldn’t really mind being a mom sooner than later.
So much ought to be mulled over before making the leap towards parenthood. You have to consider your finances, your relationship, your support network, your mental health, your job, your social life, and also your body. Yes, lots of people begin a family with a ‘surprise’ child or ‘love’ child, but that doesn’t make it an ideal situation, especially when you consider the financial state that most people are in nowadays. Likewise, planning to get pregnant without making any actual plans for after your pregnancy is far worse than an unexpected pregnancy because it reads as irresponsible; ironic because of the stellar amount of responsibilities being introduced. And this is sometimes done haplessly because of fear or expectations. Individuals place a well of responsibility on an unborn child, expecting that having a baby will fix their relationships, will make them feel loved, or give them something that they’ve been missing in their lives.
Before you and your boyfriend (or whoever the guy who may be) make the decision to have children of your own, commit yourself to spending time with other people’s children. As a running experiment, try to spend time with children of different age groups at that, from infant to pre-teen. The mistake that a lot of women/couples make is that they seem to think that their child is going to be a baby forever, when the truth is that children sprout up faster than you could ever expect. Preparing for a baby when you should be preparing for a growing child is a sure way to get in over your head rather quickly. Babies just don’t sit and sleep. They cry, they grow up, and they possibly become like those “other” kids you find on the train…
And perhaps you’re like me: Suddenly, half of the people that you attended college, high school, or even grade school with, have married and/or had a baby as recently as yesterday. To top that off, their Facebook pages seem to indicate that they’re living the ideal life. Their job is on point, living situation is on point, health is in check, and obviously their love life seems to echo the same sentiments. Nonetheless, while it isn’t to say that their lives are a farce, they’re usually exaggerated for mass consumption (aka, social media bragging), so don’t let anyone’s apparent successes hurt your self-esteem or fool you. This is chiefly because emotionally, financially, and physically, you may be in a completely different place, and not necessarily prepared to have a child in your life, a marriage, or more responsibilities than the ones already on your plate.
Let the merging of you and your boyfriend’s image on the screen of your laptop as it morphs into a conceptual illustration of your child satisfy you in the meantime. While you’re lucky enough to have time to plan for the child you want, plan for that child. Put money aside for when that day comes, and also, put together a “Pre-pregnancy” fund to help with financial responsibilities before and after the child is born. And because there are plenty of things that you won’t be able to do when that child finally does comes along, enjoy your time with your partner, or better yet, with yourself, while you can.