Kids and Growing Old: Musings Of A Newly Thirty Year Old Woman

 The following is a guest post by a regular reader who just turned 30.  Hope you guys enjoy and help her share in her thoughts!

So often we let society overly influence how we feel and act. I could go on for hours about topics like body image, nutrition, and politics but for now let’s just touch on age and children.

Maybe I’m on my own in this, but it annoys me that society teaches us that couples should raise a family once they’re married. While I have no ill feelings towards you wonderful parents out there, it frustrates me that I still find myself doubting my lack of interest in having kids because it’s abnormal, against the grain.

TO HAVE OR NOT TO HAVE

More couples are choosing not to have children though and I commend them for knowing what’s best for them and not succumbing to the wishes of their parents, friends, siblings, in-laws, second cousins, and everyone else that undoubtedly approached them countless times with: “When are you having kids”, “You’ll love having a family,” “Your life will be more complete with children”, “You really should start a family now before it’s too late”, “You’ll regret it later if you don’t….” etc etc. Admit it – it’s still a bit odd for a happily married couple not to want children.

If you find yourself struggling with this weighty decision, don’t feel ashamed if you aren’t jumping for joy at the thought of having kids. Instead you should embrace your ambivalence! I think many people underestimate the option to say “no”, and often each spouse doesn’t equally evaluate the lifestyle and financial impacts of this huge decision. Deciding to wait or not to have kids doesn’t mean you’re cold, heartless, or a kid-hater. Sure people may question your decision but they wouldn’t be the ones raising your kids anyway, so who cares what they say.

If you worry about if you will regret it later, there are always other options like adoption, foster care, mentoring nephews/nieces, volunteering with kids, or even just getting a pet to care for. I’d strongly advise against letting fate decide. If you’re not using protection you’d better be 100% ready to have kids! I know many couples that got pregnant on the first try.

THE HILL IS JUST A LAUNCH PAD FOR NEW THINGS

On to the topic of age, I recently hit a milestone birthday entering a new decade and turned to my mother for moral support. “I never worried about turning older” she said with a straight face. “The only birthday I really remember impacting me was when I turned 60, and that was just because I’d been looking forward to it for so long so I could start getting the senior discount when I go to the movies!” How adorable is that?

My mother’s easy going attitude and positive outlook has been a great anchor in my life and I hope to be as happy as she is when I reach 60! It’s still scary thinking about aging, but I’m determined not to let a number define my level of happiness. Instead of fearing getting older, I want to look forward to being a little old lady with lots of wrinkles from all the smiling and giggling I’ll be doing

I’d really like to slap the person that came up with the phrase “over the hill”. Sure we can’t stop the aging process but why do we have to dread that when we reach middle age, it’s only downhill from there? Shouldn’t we strive to die at our happiest and at the peak of our lives? With an over the hill mentality, it’s no wonder people have mid life crises thinking that things are just going to get worse as each day, month, and year passes.

AND SO WE CONTINUE

Our thoughts and feelings are more powerful than we give credit and I believe they can influence us physically too.  If you want to have children, go for it, but don’t judge others for not wanting the same things you do.  If you believe you are young, you are!  Start thinking positively, avoid stress and pessimistic people, and you’ll see the world of difference.

Carpe Diem!

Regards,

Never To Wonder

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Well, whether or not to have children is a very personal thing (obviously).

    I have probably been one of those people that may have offended people by encouraging procreation. However, it was never out of judgment. See, I did not like kids much when I was younger. Many of my friends had nieces and nephews that were quite honestly, little brats. I didn’t have any cousins/nieces/nephews of my own, so I had no affinity whatsoever toward children. I got my college education and planned on just being a career gal.

    Then after a year of marriage, something happened. I don’t know if it was instinct or what, but I wanted children. I was scared because I had zero experience with kids, and I still wasn’t overly fond of the little critters. I had my first child when I was 26 and it made me the happiest person on earth. I had two more kids pretty quickly afterward, and I felt like I had the perfect life.

    So, when I talked about how great kids are, it wasn’t because I was judging childless couples. It was because I was someone who didn’t want kids and found how absolutely wonderful it was to have children. When I talked about kids, it was from the perspective of what a gift they are and that it might make the person happy. It was to help, not to judge.

    Now that I am older, I completely keep my mouth shut. However, I do know that I probably made some people upset in my younger days, but it was only with the best of intentions.

  2. says

    Your mom has a great view on aging. I always felt like no one took me seriously in my twenties, so I was excited to turn thirty and be a “real adult.” Hopefully I can find the same excitement about forty.

    There are so many couples who choose not to have children. If you are confident about your decision, it will beam through. Even if others don’t understand, that’s not your problem.

  3. says

    I’ve seen women in tears because they went along with social pressure not to have kids until it was too late for them to have them.

    Society needs to tell people something. How can it not? Society is just a collection of people and people have views. People cannot remain forever silent on the most important issues in life. If no one were ever to say to have kids, that would be an implicit statement that it is okay not to have kids.

    I don’t at all think that the only message communicated should be to have kids. That would be a disaster. But I also don’t think that the only message should be not to have kids. People need to say what they believe.

    Some people believe strongly in having kids. Some believe strongly the other way. I think all should say what they truly believe and the rest of us need to accept that we will never all agree. We all need to feel respect and affection for those with other viewpoints. The people who say to have kids are trying to help (as are those who say otherwise), whether you happen to agree with them or not.

    Rob

  4. says

    Sure, in life you have the freedom to have kids, or not. I like your mom’s view on aging, too. From a strictly biological point of view not having kids is maladaptive, and if your mom had not had kids, you wouldn’t be around… but hey, evolution also gave us a brain with which we can make choices that might not necessarily be optimal from a reproductive point of view.

    In the end it’s up to you, it’s a personal choice, and nobody should fault you so long as you are happy with the choice.

  5. Robert Muir says

    There are two choices, to grow older or not. Since the latter requires death, I’m more than happy to choose the former. :)

  6. says

    With the extended life spans of today, turned 30 is just another milestone. It is not a depressing time but a time to be celebrated. Every year is a chance to gauge your improvement in every aspect of your life. You are not getting older, you’re getting better!

  7. says

    Having kids or not is certainly a personal choice. However, life is a collection of experiences and having kids is one special experience. Me and my wife cannot imagine our life without kids, this is how much we found this experience to be enjoyable!

  8. says

    I used to always worry about aging, but then I realized that there’s nothing that I could do about it. I have a friend that is 40 years old. He’s married and has one daughter. He works harder, sleeps less, and enjoy life more than any of us. Then I have friends that are 25 and think they’re “over the hill.”

    I’m personally looking forward to having children. Just not too crazy about the typical “family life.”

  9. says

    When I turned 30 I had a 10-year-old daughter and was in an awful marriage. Now I’m 52 years old, divorced and have never been happier.
    I got a college degree, finally. After a couple of decades in newspapers I am writing for the Internet (MSN Money and my own site). I have learned to let go of old sorrows and craft a life that works for me.
    “Over the hill,” my ass. Live the way you want — with or without kids. I wish you the best of luck.

  10. says

    Not all childless adults are crazy cat ladies. Many of them are fun and remain young at heart into retirement. I didn’t have my first until my mid 30’s so I got plenty of “advice”. Some people were subtle, some not. I keep my mouth shut now..If anything I tell people to wait a while and enjoy themselves.

    I have to say that I wasn’t a kid person either. I really didn’t like kids that much and I was afraid I’d screw them up somehow if I decided to raise some. Then in my 30’s, I decided motherhood was something I’d like to try if my body would let me. After having a couple kids of my own, I now not only like my own kids but appreciate the wonder and excitement of other people’s children as well.

    For me, it reawakened my sense of wonder and it is nice experiencing things for the first time with my kids. I get to relive my childhood and it’s fun.

    Although I never had a burning desire for motherhood (even after I decided to take the plunge), I still think I ended up being an ok mom.

  11. says

    I think getting older is wonderful – not for “the number”, that’s irrelevant. The perspective and changes in attitude that come with maturity isn’t something I would trade for anything. Just like most 30 year olds are glad that they aren’t back in high school, I’m doubly glad I’m not back in my 20’s and 30’s. A hefty part of that maturation came from learning how to re-parent myself as I raised my kids.

    When it comes to kids, I could care less what anyone else does – and am happy that nobody else has ever judged me (to my face anyway) for having and raising TWO kids single-handedly and never being married.

    I have a couple of friends who couldn’t have children and are in their mid 40’s now. Both wanted them badly – one was lucky enough to meet a guy who already had kids from his first marriage, the other is a dog-lover and got heavily involved in the local SPCA. She’s also considered adoption, apparently it’s not a very easy thing to do and is a pretty expensive process to boot.

  12. says

    I’m with First Gen American about single ladies — my best friend is in her mid-60s, knew from childhood that she never wanted kids, and has had one of the most interesting lives of anyone I know. I wanna be her when I grow up.
    Then again, one of her favorite expressions is “You’re only young once, but you can be immature for the rest of your life.”
    That is my plan.
    She also says, “Don’t take life too seriously — you’ll never get out of it alive.”
    Too true.
    If you decide you want kids — and my daughter is the best thing I ever did — then go for it. If you decide against it, be like my friend and live a life that’s a work of art.

  13. says

    Well walking up hills is boring anyway. Strapping on a snowboard and going down them is much more fun….. can’t wait to be over the hill!

    You should experience it here in Egypt. My partner and I have no plans for kids and it’s like we are telling people we plan on committing joint suicide when we hit 35…. It really shocks them as family and children are everything here. One guy recently decided to take it upon himself to tell Lara that she was going to hell for not producing a child for me….. How lovely!

  14. Greg McFarlane says

    Am I missing something? Are people really so manipulatable (if that’s not a word, it should be) that they let others indirectly counsel them on whether to reproduce?

    Have kids, don’t have kids. Isn’t this between you and your spouse only?

  15. says

    That’s correct we are free to decide for ourselves, but if you’re a couple, it’s a decision that needs both your agreement. Having a child is expensive, but you can’t buy the happiness it might bring into your life.

  16. Suzan says

    A well written article! I have two wonderful children, but always respect people who know what decision to make for themselves.

  17. MJ says

    As women, we are hard-wired to want children. It’s in our biology. You can’t fight it. I wish more women would embrace this. It’s what we were made for. I’m 33 with two kids. Nothing in my professional or personal life comes even close to the accomplishment that is motherhood. My career is a distant, distant, distant item on my ladder of achievements. It’s not easy being parents. It will test a relationship. It will strain a marriage. But it’s THE higher calling. It’s a gift. A blessing. Kudos to all couples who face this terrifying challenge with open hearts.

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