A few weeks back, I asked a question on Facebook: What will you say if your grown child asks, "When is the perfect time to have a child?" And many of you basically had the same response: Although there's an "ideal" time to have a child (when you're in a committed relationship, mature enough to take care of yourself, have some financial stability, etc.), there never really is a perfect time. Yet it will all work out as it's meant to.
Then I branched out and asked outside the "early mama" community, just to see how different the perspectives would be. I asked my family, I asked older moms, I asked non-breeding friends, and one consistent response surprised me. When you accomplish everything you want to accomplish.
What exactly do you mean, I'd ask.
Traveling, finishing school, being "director" or "executive" or "deputy" of something, getting married, nailing down that Nobel Peace Prize, taking care of orphans, running a 5-minute mile, getting a book deal, winning a hot dog eating contest, competing in a national triathlon, living in Europe, fitting into a size 2...
But I guess that's what we're taught, right? Get it done before you have kids, before your entire mental capacity is jam-packed with spit-up and feces and silly voices. You won't have time to study abroad, finish a degree or make a name for yourself (other than "mommy"). You'll never be a star. You'll never change the world.
And here's where I grab them by their collar and scream nose-to-nose, YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER.
Your life is not over. Your life is not over. Your life is not over.
In fact there's something to be said for showing your children exactly how you accomplish goals -- with perseverance and patience. There's something to be said for watching your parents go from Point A to Point B, building a life from the ground up. Watching mommy study for her exams and then cheer as she accepts her hard-earned diploma. Seeing mommy and daddy pledge their lives to one another and blissfully dance around the dance floor, giddy with excitement. Hearing mom's tiny seed of an idea at the dining room table one night, only to watch it blossom into a full-grown business over the next 5 years. Seeing it all happen right before your developing eyes.
There's something to be said for teaching children to pursue their dreams despite any and all obstacles.
I'll always remember dancing around the living room with infant Noah on my hip after getting an interview at Babble. Showing Noah what my brand new business cards looked like before anyone else. High-fiving Noah when the design for Early Mama was up and running.
So while it might be easier to "accomplish everything you want to accomplish," it's also kind of boring. Ordinary. I have a little person watching my every move, waiting to cheer and laugh and dance around the living room. And that just makes the accomplishments all the more fulfilling.
*I changed the name of the series from "young mom" to "20-something mom," only because many readers have commented that the term "young mom" often = "teen mom." And I have no experience being a teen mom, although I always welcome their perspective. Let me know what you think.