I have the best son in the whole world. He has made me love in ways I never knew were possible and tested my patience beyond what I thought were its limits. Most importantly, he has challenged me to become a better person, not only for him, but for myself. He has made me grow up.
I say he has made me grow up because I was a 25 year old college graduate with a decent, but dead end job without a clear direction as to where I was going in life. I was working in an industry where there were many layoffs in late 2007 and 2008 and was honestly happy to still have a job. I kept telling myself I was still young, years away from getting married or having a family with plenty of time to pursue a graduate degree or switch careers. When I got pregnant a few months shy of my 26th birthday all the time I kept telling myself I had suddenly disappeared.
Most of my family members starting or expanding their families were older than me, had careers, more money and owned their homes. My friends in my age group lived at home with their parents and didn't have to worry about raising and supporting a family. Despite the fact I was not going to continue to have the “ideal” 20's like my friends and struggle more financially than my older family members, I felt my partner and I could do this. We both worked full-time, we lived in a cheap apartment by NYC standards and would probably struggle for a couple of years max until we caught up to the crowd. Then when the “are you keeping it?” and “you’re too young” comments started rolling in, I started to doubt myself. Could I do this? Am I really too young?
I will admit, the past two years have been rough. I made a couple of career blunders that left us broke, didn't realize the difficulty in finding quality childcare at an affordable price, and we’re still living in our small apartment. I started to feel ashamed for not having the house, car and money people in their 30's normally have established. I started to feel as if I no longer had anything in common with my friends because when I do have free time (which is rarely ever) I couldn't afford the weekend getaways or expensive dinners they were accustomed to.
I recently read an article on www.parenting.com titled “5 Reason I Love Being an Early Mama” by Michelle Horton, which I found to be incredibly refreshing. I think (in my experience) the focus of those around me is on delaying children as much as possible until everything is perfect. But you know what? Can anyone ever be fully prepared as parents? No matter how much money, how much research you've done, how much life experience you have, being a parent is something you really can’t claim to be good at until you've lived and experienced it. There are both pros and cons on both sides of the fence but your commitment to being a wonderful, loving parent cannot and should not be measured on how much money a person has or how big their house is.
There are many things that money can buy and in some ways would make life easier. There are also many things money can’t buy like our play dates at the park, hugs and kisses and cuddling up for story time. My son brings so much joy to my life and I honestly can’t imagine my life without him. My unwavering commitment and desire to raise him into a respectable, productive member of society is my priority and I have faith he will be just that. The decision to stop focusing on what I don’t have and more on what I do have has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Please feel free to share your experiences or comments with me. Thanks for stopping by!