I've always been a work-then-play type of a girl. And before you skip down to the comment section, I'm not equating parenting with a torturous, mind-numbing, count-down-the-seconds-until-5:00 job. I'm also not equating an empty nest with a Mediterranean cruise. But, as we all know, parenting is a full-time job. There's an underlying responsibility, obligation, sacrifice — no matter how much happiness or fulfillment or clarity it gives us. There's not as much time (or money) for traveling; there's not as much freedom to get up and go.
There are basically two main paths you can take: The first is to have kids early and then have time later for romantic vacations, lazy Saturday mornings and afternoon yoga classes. The second is to spend your 20s (and early 30s) focusing on yourself, your career, your wants, your dreams — hopefully spending a good amount of time traveling and vacationing as a couple (sans diapers, breastfeeding or toddler tantrums) until you decide to raise a family. They're both perfectly acceptable paths (one more socially accepted than the other), but I prefer to get the poop explosions, breast hostage and sleepless nights over with while I have the energy.
I cringe a little when I say "over with," because I love having babies. I do. But in the back of my mind, there's a sense of peace knowing that while other 40-something moms are volunteering at elementary school bake sales, my kids will be off in college — leaving me with more time alone with my husband. And while the thought of Noah being out in the big world makes me hyperventilate into paper bags, the image of me and Justin watching the sun set on the horizon of an ocean gives me something to look forward to. Something to think about besides crying into my pillowcase, muttering "my baaaaby" between sobs. Something to be excited about beyond the child-rearing years. Because they grow up, move out, move on. And when they do, I'll still have a long life to enjoy.
But we'll always be mothers, right? They'll come home for a load of laundry, for heartfelt advice, for mom's special chicken nuggets. They'll call us, text us, FaceTime us. So while the traditional path of "find yourself then have a baby" is perfectly logical and reasonable for many women, I want as much time as I can have with my kids. I want to be sitting on that beach with Justin and look down at a text from Noah, saying how much he loves me. Or that the laundry machine broke and he's out of underwear. Either way, I'll smile. He'll be old enough to handle that one on his own.
Note: This series isn't meant to attack another path -- being a mother is immeasurably rewarding no matter when or how it's done. It's simply to highlight one possible positive of this particular situation.