Monday, March 15, 2010

The "Right Time."

This isn't the right time to have a baby.

It just isn't.

Mike will be starting a PhD program this fall and I currently earn 75% of our income. My job provides our health insurance.  I always thought work would be optional for me when when we had kids one day; that it would be a choice to go to work if I wanted to. It seems like *so* many women are able to do that. Nearly all of my aunts, mother, and 99% of the moms on the "mommy blogs" I read stay at home and take care of their kids. Then, I saw this post this morning, and I wallowed for a minute. This isn't a choice for us. It isn't a matter of living more simply or getting rid of a car or downsizing to a smaller apartment - we've done all that - it's just impossible to live with 80% of the poverty-level wages.

I think it's the lack of choice that's the hardest for me - because honestly? I think it will be good for me to get out of the house, see other adults, and have a sense of routine to my days. I love my job and I feel successful at it. I'm expecting to work full-time, but hoping and praying we'll be able to finagle part-time. And it's looking as though we'll end up in the same city as my family - which means my sister and mom will be close and cheaper than day care. 

We said we'd wait until next fall to start trying stop avoiding pregnancy. But I have a feeling that wouldn't have felt like the right time, either.  I think we'd have postponed things a little longer, slightly freaked out by making such a huge decision and slightly worried about financing a new addition to the family. Mike is going to be in school for four or five more years before he gets his first post-PhD job. That's four or five more years we might have postponed starting our family because the time just isn't "right." Though, it's never an easy time to subject yourself to a financial burden, sleep deprivation, and full-time responsibility for a tiny little human, of course.

The "right time" is a myth, I think. A myth that forces us to put on hold what we most desire - whether that's a career change, a relocation, a baby, returning to school, or getting married. We put these things on hold for the wrong reasons. We're told we need to have x, y, and z in place before we go after what we really want.

I got married right after college - and so many people told me I was too young; that I should wait - live life! be single! be young! "Why settle down? What's the rush?" For them, being twenty-two wasn't the "right time" to get married. I have never once felt "settled down" - I just feel like I get to spend lots of time with my favorite person in the world. If I hadn't married Mike right after college - I have no idea where we would have ended up. Likely not together. I would have stayed in my college town, and he would have gone to grad school in another state. We would have lived our lives separately - and probably wouldn't have stayed together. We were 2,000 miles apart for a year and that was more than enough long distance relationship for me.

This added stress is undeniable - but as long as I have someone who hugs me and whispers, "I know you're worried about money, but I promise you it will all work out. We will make it work and it will be amazing," I think it will be worth it.


  1. It's not a choice for me either. Not with a mortgage, and now a new car payment. Not with me earning more than Ted, and with a pay cut for me next year.

    That's not to say that I automatically would choose to stay home if I could. I love working, and I adore my job. I would want some adult time.

    Still, it would be nice to have a choice.

  2. It *will* be okay. We married very young too, right out of college, and my husband's much older cousin gave us the advice of not waiting for kids too long at our rehearsal dinner, saying that there really never is the perfect time. He's in his late thirties with 4 very young kids, and a handful of graduate degrees between him and his wife. I think he wishes he had started earlier, even with the stress of being broke and in school.

    You are going to be amazing. Love really is what makes it work in this case.

  3. Beautiful post, Ashley. And I must say that I agree with you 100%.


    Things happen when they're meant to happen, and everything else will fall into place. And you always have friends and family to help you hug it out when you feel like things are out of control. That's the most important.

  4. "The "right time" is a myth, I think. A myth that forces us to put on hold what we most desire - whether that's a career change, a relocation, a baby, returning to school, or getting married. We put these things on hold for the wrong reasons. We're told we need to have x, y, and z in place before we go after what we really want."

    How true. And how amazing to be able to *realize* that it's true, and then turn away from it and embrace all the wonderful things about the way things are now, "wrong time" and all. Love it.

    Thanks for this.

  5. I worked, my (now ex)husband was a stay-at-home Dad. That worked for us.

    Honestly, though...for VERY few people is there a "right time" for adding children. Because most people always feel that they should have more savings or live in a better neighborhood or...

    You're smart, from what you write in your blog, you have a stable relationship, you're responsible and you haven't lost the ability to dream of things being better. I honestly believe that you, Mike and the new addition will find a way that works for you. Just don't compare your way with anyone elses. There are people who envy the things you have (stable relationship, good education, etc.) so make your way work.

    The blogosphere is rootin' for y'all!

  6. I don't think Nathan and I would ever have kids if we waited until "the right time". I'm lucky enough to be able to take a full year of mat leave (2 months full pay, 10 months EI) but after that, who knows! Daycare is so expensive here that my entire paycheck would be going towards that, and my husband is adamant that Baby will not be going to daycare (he had to when he was a kid and had a bad experience) - so I'm hoping I can somehow work out a way to work from home! At the same time, I like my job (I don't LOVE it, but it's not a bad job!), I like my adult time, and I never really saw myself as a stay at home mom. Decisions, decisions ...


    I am guilty of thinking a lot of people get married young or rush into having kids. You are younger than me but really, the team you and Mike form and that head on your shoulders is such a brilliantly, strong willed one that I find myself constantly rooting in your corner.

    You have a very realistic yet positive approach and I truly admire it.

    Kudos, my dear. And yes, you guys are totally going to rock this next chapter of your lives. I'm so happy to be able to be "part" of it.

    ps. I absolutely agree, there is never really going to be a "right" time. There will always be an "excuse" NOT to do something if you are looking for one.

  8. :( I'm sorry that my post made you feel sad.

    I agree that there aren't "right times" for things. There are "worse times" and "better times", but not really "right times". What's right for one might not be right for another, right?

    We weren't sure that this would be an option for us, either. It was a pleasant surprise, for sure.

  9. It is very true that they is never a "right time" to have kids. However, I can promise you that no matter how "not right" the time is, when that baby is placed in your arms there will never be a more perfect time. It might not be the fairy tale and things might be tough, but it will work out!

  10. What a great post. I totally agree that I've tried to plan everything out according to the "right time," and it always turns out that the actual right time is never when I planned it. I moved to Chicago for grad school and ended up falling in love with a guy that lived near my hometown, in Pennsylvania. That was definitely not the right time for our relationship to begin, on paper. But it worked out great for us.

    Things work out as they should. It's all about letting go and letting life happen, no matter how hard we resist that with tons of plans.

  11. That's what I've heard - there's never a RIGHT TIME.

    When we first planned to get married, we were going to have kids in 5-8 years.
    Now, we're looking at 3-5. It's amazing how quickly the number dropped.

    We know that there isn't a RIGHT TIME - but we also know that having kids is NOT an option when we both have commutes that are over an hour.

    Ideally, I would like to stay home and work part time - but chances are that won't be a possibility. So having kids won't be in our future until one of us is at a job that is 15-30 minutes from our home.

    Everything will work out - you'll have a gorgeous little baby, and that's all.

  12. I love this post! Thank you for being honest about being scared and how you feel, and wrapping it up so well.

    It never IS the right time for anything, and if it finally is, you probably missed your shot, waited to long, or your selling yourself short.

    This is a great take chances and go after what you really want in life message, thank you for sharing and reminding all of us of that.

  13. I thought growing up that I wouldn't ever want to stay home with a baby, but that I would have the option. Then I married an artist. And as the one who brings in, yes 80% of our income and all of our health insurance, that choice disappeared into thin air. And sometimes it sucks (ok, a lot of times it sucks), but the adult interaction is fantastic and necessary and, I like to think, helps make me a better mom. (of course, I wish I liked my job but that's another story).
    The right time, in my opinion, is when it happens. You end up making it work whether you've planned everything perfectly or whether it's a surprise. In the end, you just make it happen whenever it happens.

  14. Hmm- what a thought provoking post. We have been thinking about when to start/stop preventing and there is always something we want to do before we can start/stop. I wonder if we need to look at our situation again . . .

    Like you we married right out of college. I can't imagine it any other way. It would have been boring, lonely and would feel like a waste of time (especially since I have enjoyed the last 3.5 years so much.) We have grown- both in our relationship and individually. If we were to get married now- we would be so "behind" in our relationship. Maybe. I guess we will never know. But getting married young has never been something either of us has regretted. Anyway- I am babbling. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I am going to go home and talk to the big guy about what we really want. And just do it. Who cares what other people think.

  15. Yeah, marrying young. When I talk to my friends in Houston about my marriage and the delightful marriages my friends have, they ooze envy. The artist-student spouse is also underrated.

  16. I totally agree, Ashley, although I'm guilty for waiting for the "right time" myself. Parents are never ready to be parents. Even the ones who think they are or look like they are. You have to make it the "right" time for you.

    So many workplaces now are working toward 4-day work weeks; maybe you could be one of those lucky employees who can work that out and make it easier on you and the baby. As for Mike, well, one of my favorite professors when I was in college said she had her baby while working on her dissertation. She actually welcomed the unstructured time of staying home with the baby (whatever that means). Yet another prof welcomed his fourth child immediately after getting his PhD. It can be done, and you two can handle it.

  17. Jenny and I married young too. We got married not even a month after I flew out to meet her. We were in a long distance (2,000+ mile) relationship. We were together for four years, engaged for two. We started dating when I was 13/14 and I knew I wanted to marry her. She knew she wanted to marry me.

    Everyone said we were too young or that we should date around (we have never dated anyone else) or that we'd find someone else. No, sorry, no. We knew we wanted to be together.

    At 16, Jenny asked me to marry her and I said yes, of course! At 18, I packed two little luggage things and left to meet her face to face. A month later, we were married.

    We're now going on three years and I could not be happier. She's my soul mate. When people find out we are married, they ask how long and "How old ARE you?" And that's followed by "Wow, so young..."

    And yes, we are young. But we also have been in love for seven years! We knew what we wanted then and we know what we want now - each other.

    I wish you and your husband good luck, Ash. I think you two will make great parents.

  18. You're so, so right. I sometimes wish I wasn't such a planner.

    But I agree with you (and all the others): It'll work out. You will make it work!

  19. just a thought about insurance.

    i'm not sure if you're comfortable with this, but, does your state have cheap/practically free insurance for babies/children who don't otherwise have insurance?

    you said you're interested in part time but you'd lose your insurance. when i lost my job after our son was born, we put him on the CA state insurance for littles (it was like $15 a month, full coverage). we were comfortable not having insurance for ourselves, since we're pretty healthy folks and because that same program would have also covered me if i got preggo again.

    just a thought!


  20. I totally get it, Ashley. This whole "right time" business is non-sense. We all do it, but in reality, if you're always waiting for the "right time", it's never going to come. This leads me to believe it's maybe a fear of failure? I don't know, but you and Mike are strong and amazing people. You'll be fine. :)

  21. You are amazing and so great with words. I thoroughly enjoy hearing what you have to say and just thinking about you (and Mike) and your incredible baby makes me excited!! :)

  22. you guys will make it work, i know it. you are both so strong!

  23. I know you guys have a lot coming up and going on but even though you wanted to wait to have a baby, one is coming and I cannot wait to meet him or her. Timing may never be perfect but you have Mike and you guys will get through it together :)

  24. I loved this post, Ashley! And I agree that the "right time" if it even exists, is different for everyone! And like you said, that goes along with just about EVERYTHING.

  25. This is beautifully written and I agree with you 100% even though I am still on the hunt for the right time that I will never find.

  26. My Mom has told me many times that if you wait for the "right time" you'll always find an excuse. There's never a "right time" for kids (well...for most of us). Money's tight. You just bought a house. One of you (or both) are still in school. You're waiting until you're financially stable - whatever that is. My fiance and I have often talked about when the "right time" will be for us, but another thing my Mom has always told me will probably happen first - baby fever. I think it's starting already...Uh, oh. :)

    You two will do great and you know what, the wrong time will turn in to the right time when the moment arrives. Congrats again!

  27. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who wonders when the "right time" will be. Whatever happens I know you and mike will be the happiest people on earth when he/she arrives :)

  28. I completely agree with you. There's a point where it comes down to faith. And I'm so glad you have someone to whisper that to you, I'd try to shout it but I'm not sure it would make it across the ocean...

  29. I'm definitely with you- there are so many places in my life where I've been waiting until I know enough, I'm experienced enough, positioned well enough... and at the end of the day what a waste! Putting life on hold isn't worth it.

    I'm glad that you guys have embraced that if this isn't the right time, it's at least time =)

  30. Congratulations on your new little one! I think you're right about timing.

    Just a thought no one else seems to have mentioned (possibly with good reason).

    Does your husband have to get his PhD? Can he get a job that supports his family long term (that he doesn't hate) without it?

  31. Amen!! This is a wonderful post. I'm so impressed with you-- you've realized something that it takes many people a very long time to see.

    All I can say, having been someone who was 19 and married nine months on one piddly income when we had our first child, is that life is never what you expect or plan on-- and oh, it is usually SO much better and more wonderful than anything WE can plan out.

    cheers to you and your amazing attitude, my friend. 5 years from now you are going to look back on this time in your life and be so overhwlemingly thankful for the way things worked out perfectly-- because I KNOW they will. :)

  32. I think you're so right - there's always a reason to push off the things you really want. You guys are going to be amazing parents and your baby is always going to know that his/her parents are full of love and excitement and the drive to do what's best for their family. That's the most important part. Even when you try to plan every last thing, you get unexpected curves and detours, and sometimes what happens on the curves is more wonderful than you ever would have planned to begin with.

  33. We aren't pregnant but I keep thinking what if something happens and we are? (My husband's company downsized due to the economy in November and he's still looking for a job). I think it's great that people can have opportunities like choosing to live on one income, but I definitely get the unfair-ness of it as well. Why them and not us, ya know?

    The only thing I can say is we're not given more than we can handle. And chocolate helps. Chocolate always helps!

  34. Agree! And if you wait until the right time, no one will be surprised, and what's the fun in that??

  35. You are so right, Ashely; there is NEVER going to be "the right time."

    One thing my mom told me (just because she is wise, & not because we were considering having children at the time) is that it will NEVER be the right time to have a child. There will NEVER be enough money, there will NEVER be enough time, there will NEVER be enough preparation or knowledge... but if you have faith & love & stability, everything will work out for the best. It always does. & I think it's so incredibly awesome that you & Mike realize this. I think it's awesome, too, that you guys didn't wait for "the right time."

    Your baby is so, so lucky to come into this world having YOU two as parents.

  36. I love this post. That is all, just love it.

  37. I don't think there is ever a right time for a lot of the things that happen in life and I'm sure a baby isn't one of them. My parents were in a very similar situation (if you want to hear about, email me, happy to share) when they had me. I was kind of a surprise (in a good way), they were both teachers at the time, in the early 80s when salaries were craptastic.

    Reading this post, you and Mike sound kind of like my parents which, trust me, is a compliment even though you don't know them. Meaning: it will all be ok. You're in love, you communicate, you have one another and fabulous family.

    This is a beautiful post. I just love it.

  38. Love this post! So wise & so true. You and Mike are totally going to rock this parenthood thing. Thinking about you guys! xo

  39. Your post hit on target. After being married for 8yrs ( in Sept)we've be waiting for the "right time". 8 yrs later I look back & pinpoint the times that having a baby would have been "right"....when the hubby was making twice what he does now, when I was working part time, when we owned a house, when we didn't have a car pymt. Now, when all those life perks I had were taken away-we're FINALLY trying to get pregnant. Funny how life works.
    My fingers are XXX for you, I know you're gonna be a great, down to earth mom!

  40. Husband and I are planning to stop avoiding pregnancy in September, which has always been our plan. But things have not been going well at his work (A year ago he had a 10% pay cut that was supposed to last for a few months, but now we have no idea when we'll get that back.) I've always wanted to go part-time or freelance or work from home, but since my employer pays for our health insurance and I make more, that might not happen. Who knows what will happen in the next year, but I agree, there is no right time and if we were to say "Let's wait til we have more money." who knows how long it would take before we actually felt ready. Just leap! Good luck with everything! :)

  41. thank you for writing this, and putting my fears and anxiety into the exact words i couldn't find! i'm not pregnant, but my fiance and i are going through major life changes - i am finally graduating university, he's starting a business, and we will be in a position where i am the primary earner of income. i know kids aren't far off (i'm 28) and i can't help but be a teensy bit jealous of those women who married rich business men and can be stay-at-home moms. but i of course love my fiance and i couldn't imagine myself with anyone else. this is just our life. you will work everything out, and be deliriously happy, i am sure!
    p.s. i just got directed to your blog and started reading, and i'm hooked :)

  42. Thanks for re-blogging this post. I needed to hear this:

    "The "right time" is a myth, I think. A myth that forces us to put on hold what we most desire - whether that's a career change, a relocation, a baby, returning to school, or getting married. We put these things on hold for the wrong reasons. We're told we need to have x, y, and z in place before we go after what we really want."


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