I was shopping at IKEA last weekend and I recognized a voice while I was walking through the store. It ended up being a coworker, Chris, from my first gig at Dominick’s (a Safeway owned grocery store, for those of you not familiar with the Chicago Area) that I hadn’t seen in eight years.
We did a little catching up and found out that we were pretty much in the same position. We both had toddlers at home and were engaged to the mother of our respective children. Chris is a little under two years older than me—I’m 26.
The meeting got me thinking that while my generation gets criticized for having children before we’re getting married—the horse before the carriage cliché—we believe that being a responsible and involved parent is important. We believe it is so important that maybe we believe that it’s more important than being married before having children.
I can’t pin this apparent trend down to a single reason for everyone; everyone probably has their own reason. However, I can speak for myself and say that while I wasn’t ready to get married when Elle was conceived I saw her as the most wonderful thing in the world and despite the difficulty of finishing my last year of graduate school while raising an infant I realized I was capable of raising her.
As for being ready to have kids I no longer believe anyone is ever ready to have kids. It’s like jumping in to a cold swimming pool. You can dip your foot in to gauge the temperature, but the cold-rush is going to be just as shocking even if you didn’t.
So let’s look at it this way, if you were planning on buying a horse and then buying a carriage, but you found the perfect carriage on your way to buy the horse, is it really so wrong to buy that carriage first?
It comes up from time-to-time and I hear those sneers about how I—and people in the same position as me—did the starting-a-family process out of order. Sure, it’s easy to sit on the fence and poke at people who have a child before they’ve been able to do the “get married, start a career, buy a house” process, but it looks very different when you’re living the part. We’re a family that loves each other and that’s more important than how we became a family.