I Waited 19 Years to Start a Family -- & I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

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My husband and I had been married for so long that people were stunned when we finally announced we were expecting.

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The question of "When are you guys going to have kids?" had stopped years before, with people assuming we had infertility issues or simply didn't want children. Our reasons for waiting were complex. I'd had a couple of early miscarriages and, having grown up with a dysfunctional family, I was ambivalent about motherhood. Then there were the military moves and education and career goals my husband and I were both working toward. After about a decade, people started saying things like, "If you haven't had kids by now, you never will." I guess we proved them wrong -- though that was never the goal. It was just -- finally -- the right time for us.

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While I wouldn't necessarily recommend 19 years, I believe there is a lot to be said for waiting until well after the honeymoon is over. Here's why I'm glad we took our time:

1. We were grown-ups.

Waiting to have kids meant we were fully grown, independent adults who knew ourselves and our expectations. There was no new relationship drama -- we had been together for almost half our lives -- and no feeling that we were missing out on parties or weekends with friends. We were settled, we had a home, and we were fully committed to the child we had planned for, which made the transition from couple to family easier.  

2. We had finished our education and established our personal goals.

Going to college and having a baby? Embarking on a new career with an infant at home? I know women do it all the time, but by waiting to start a family, we didn't have to juggle as many demands. We weren't working 60 hours a week or struggling to complete a degree while making 2 a.m. feedings. This is not to say it can't be done. I know many who have and I admire them. But there is something to be said for letting each of your dreams -- whether it's getting a degree, starting a career, traveling the world, or having a baby -- take center stage all by itself for a while.

3. We were financially stable.

Kids are expensive. This is no surprise. And yet it is, because no matter how well you plan in advance, it costs more than you think it will. Our second child was born 21 months after the first, and we had to make adjustments for everything from diapers for two (those things are expensive!) to childcare. I can't imagine how we would have managed when we were in our early 20s and Ramen was still a staple of our diet.

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4. I'm more patient.

When people learn that I'm an older mom, they often ask, "How do you have the energy to run after little kids?" It's said in the same tone as, "How did you do that magic trick?" The answer? Coffee, of course! But yes, it's probably physically a little harder to be an older mom and there are days when I pop a couple of ibuprofen because my back is protesting. But the truth is that I didn't have the patience at 25 that I have now. The little-kid stage when you chase them around the playground is short-lived, while the need for patience and understanding is something that will serve me -- and them -- from birth until they're grown.

5. It was the right choice for us.

When to have a child is such a personal decision. And yet once we got married, so many people felt the need to offer their unsolicited advice and opinions. They told us -- pretty much from the moment we said "I do" -- that we needed to get to it! Have a baby! Start a family! Do it now! "There is no right time to have a child," they'd say. "If you wait for the right time, you'll never have them." And yet here I am now, with two kids I adore more than anything and can't imagine my life without. Because, for us, waiting was the best choice, and 19 years into our marriage was exactly the right time.

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