I became a mom just after turning 30, and I know women who became moms in their 20s. There advantages and disadvantages to having kids in either of these decades, and sometimes I like to mess with my head and think what it would have been like to have become a mom 10 years ago.
Here are 7 thoughts moms in their 30s have when contemplating this life-changing decision to have a kid:
1. You suspect you don’t have the energy you had in your 20s
Remember your 20s and those weekends where you were able to stay up late, partying or studying, and then wake up feeling like you could run a marathon? Well, in your 30s your energy level is kind of lower. This makes you wonder if maybe you wouldn't have been better off chasing a toddler in your 20s, when you had the ability to operate with so little sleep.
One of the assumed perks of having children after your 20s is that you’re done going out. You’ve “lived your life,” and so you are done partying. While you might not be interested in bar hopping (anymore) in your 30s, you still want to go out and see people. You still like brunch, visiting cool restaurants and doing things 30-somethings do. But babies make it hard to have a social life, and so you might still find yourself scrolling through your feed while you nurse your kid and wonder how long it would take you to pack the stroller, the diaper bag and the baby carrier, get in the car and go catch up with your friends. Don’t stress, Mama, it’s OK to miss your life. Give yourself time to mourn.
People who had their children younger have told me that they are happy they will be done raising young children in the 40s.
3. You might have to parent your kids and care for your aging parents at the same time
My son will be 10 when my mom hits 70, while my older sister (who my mom had in her 20s) had her children in her 20s, too. She will be done raising her children by the time our mother is entering the age where she might need additional support. This isn’t just about the time investment of caring for parents, it’s also about the financial toll this can have on a family. I didn’t think of this math at 25, of course, when I spent my paycheck on dinner and drinks around Los Angeles, where we live.
4. You are glad you had your 20s to be just with yourself
Each woman can decide when having children is best for them. For me having my 20s to myself was the best. First, I needed time to think about whether or not I wanted children, then I had time to watch and learn from others about how I wanted to raise my own children. I also had time to heal from things I brought from my childhood into adulthood. This doesn't mean that you are done evolving in your 30s. On the contrary: My 30s have been quite transformative. I’m relieved I waited, but there is no best option, just the option that works best for you.
5. You can’t tell if the gray hairs and forehead wrinkles are caused by motherhood or age
I'm starting to see wrinkles and gray hairs I never saw before, and I’m not sure what has brought this on. Welcome to parenting in middle age. You can get your life back in your 50s when the kids go away to college, though we might look a lot older than our years at that point. People who had their children younger have told me that they are happy they will be done raising young children in the 40s. Now I wonder if they'll age better than the rest of us.
6. You wish you had more time to make major life decisions
In your 20,s no one will tell you to hurry up and have another baby or to "just get it over with.” People on the sidelines aren't reminding you that your eggs are dying and get on it if you want to have another kid. In your 20s, there is a sense that time is infinite. As you hit 30, though, it seems the milestones get crossed off at an alarming rate. It really seems you're at of time for getting it together. In your 30s, you are already behind on buying a home, finding your life’s work and having a baby—so everything hits overdrive. There is a lot of pressure in your 30s. Thankfully, I'm far enough along in my 30s that I know we never stop evolving. Whew!
While in my 20s, I was setting up my life. Now in my 30s, I manage expectations.
7. Money is still a concern in your 30s
This is a big one. Money influences a lot of our decisions. This is also very personal. I waited to have children, because I wanted to be more financially stable. Even though I entered pregnancy with that stabilty, I eventually had to navigate a layoff and income loss. While in my 20s, I was setting up my life. Now in my 30s, I manage expectations. Unless you are wealthy, you will worry about money in your 30s, too.
Don't get me wrong, having children creates happiness and challenges at any age. It doesn't matter how old you are, you can be a great parent. What's important is that we create a space where women have choices, and that we honor their choices, about when it is best to start a family—whether at 25 or 35 (or even 45)!
The other truth is that you will always be you, no matter what age. You will never cease having your own needs, desires and aspirations. At any age, you should always make time and effort to nurture yourself, even if you're caring for another person.