Smart Women Have Babies in Their 20s

Mom Moment 173

baby earThe age when women start making babies is creeping up, up, and up. Depending on where you live, it may be the norm to wait until you're in your 30s -- that's the way it is in New York City, for sure. Even growing up in Colorado, though, I just thought that's what you do. You start your career, climb the ladder, make sure your marriage is stable, and then start having babies.

But some women are starting to question that wisdom and make a case for having babies in your 20s. In XXfactor, Jessica Grose points out a few reasons why career-ambitious women should get pregnant sooner, not later. And I have to admit -- I'm convinced.

Grose says women in their 30s who are further along in their careers actually have less flexibility than women on the make in their 20s. The younger you are, the less responsibility at work you have, and the more flexibility. I think that's partly true -- you do have less responsibility, but you also have less clout. Sometimes it's that seniority that gives you the leverage to demand flexibility that younger people don't have. But I get the point about less responsibility.

Your body is more flexible, too. It can handle pregnancy and chasing toddlers better when you're in your 20s. And you're more of a fertile Myrtle when you're younger, so there's that.

Another advantage of having babies in your 20s is that the stupid stuff doesn't matter as much. Grose says older moms are more likely to get caught up in things like having the right books, doing the right mommy-and-me classes, being in the right school district -- everything has to be perfect. And younger moms are more accepting of imperfection. They're more capable of improvising and making do. I think she's right about that.

And anyway, who's to say those of us who wait to have babies are really spending our 20s advancing in our careers, anyway? I sure didn't.

I seem to recall a three-year stint in graduate school that involved falling asleep in the library and not getting a PhD. And I was an admin assistant at an investment bank. And I spent three months as a sales assistant for a production company before getting fired because I was terrible at hiding how much I hated my boss. And then I did some freelance writing for a website that never got off the ground. And then I was an admin assistant for an exec at Scholastic who let me read the first Harry Potter book, and I told him I didn't think it would go over with American readers (LOLZ, Adriana, you dummy). And then I spent a few years climbing the ladder in the "exciting" field of educational publishing, and then I had a baby at the age of 33. And all the while I was partying, partying, partying.

Long story short, I totally wasted a decade of my life.

Oh all right, it wasn't a total waste. I learned a lot. But I definitely didn't "get ahead" or do any of those other things you're supposed to do to prepare for parenthood. It was kind of an extended adolescence. And once I'd stayed home a few years with my son and it was time to jump back into the working world, I found myself starting over in a new career anyway!

Sure, that's partly because I wanted a career change anyway. But life is unpredictable and full of change. In retrospect, I don't think women who are in a position to have a baby should worry about postponing kids. Maybe earlier is better for some women.

Are you glad you had kids when you did, or do you wish you'd had yours earlier or later?

 

Image via LisaW123/Flickr

motherhood