How do you know when you’re ready for motherhood? It is certainly a valid question. After all, you can’t order a baby, try it out and return it or press a “pause” to wait for a better time to care for your child. In our society, we see plenty of pregnancy announcements, but people often don’t talk about what led up to that moment. So, when I asked on Instagram what questions you all had for me about motherhood, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to get this question from a lot of people. Wondering if I was ready for motherhood was something I thought a lot about in the years leading up to having our son. So, today I’m going to share more about what that looked like for me and how I knew I was ready.
Before we dive in to that, I want to emphasize the decision to become a mother or father and deciding when you are ready is very personal. Everyone makes these decisions in their own way while on their own unique journey through life. Also, some people don’t get to make this decision for various reasons, and parenthood is a surprise or forced on them. Some people decide to become a parent and for various reasons it doesn’t happen for them. So, what I share may not apply to your life circumstances and goals.
There’s also one thing that comes before deciding when you can think about whether or not you are ready to be a mom. First, you should consider if you want to be a mom. Some women, like myself, know from a very young age that they want to be a mother. For me, I feel like I have always known that I wanted to be a mom. It’s never been something that I questioned.
However, I know many women feel unsure if it is what they really want or they feel indifferent about being a mom for a period in their lives. Personally, I think of it like a spectrum from adamantly not wanting to be a mom to very badly wanting to be a mom. So, thinking about how much you want to be a mom and where you fall along the spectrum might be helpful to understand before wondering if you are ready. Wherever you fall along the spectrum is totally normal.
Side Note: If you’re currently pondering whether or not you want to be a mom, I’d check out this podcast by Death, Sex & Money: Strictly, Entirely On The Fence About Having A Kid for some varying perspectives.
Are you ever truly ready for motherhood?
While I have always know I wanted to be a mother, I certainly questioned if I was ready and when I would be ready. Before becoming a mom, I would hear people with older children say, “You’re never really ready to have a child.” or “There’s no perfect time to have a kid.” Honestly, I found these sayings annoying. I mean I got what they were saying, but for most of these people, I knew there must have been some moment when they thought, “Ok, I’m ready. Let’s try to have a baby.” I was always left wondering, “What was in place in your life to make you feel ready?”
Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s what lead up to the point in which I felt ready for motherhood.
- Marriage – I wanted to be married and settled in to our marriage before adding a child in to the mix. I met my now husband when I was 25 and got married when I was 28. So, I also felt like I had some time on my hands. That said, if I got married at an older age, I think I’d want to have a child more quickly. But, if I got married at an earlier age, I am sure I would have taken advantage of enjoying some extra time before motherhood. Lastly, if marriage did not appear to be in the cards for me, I think at a certain age I would have considered becoming a mother on my own.
- Age – As women, I think we’re often reminded that the biological clock is ticking. The fact that that female fertility starts rapidly declining in the mid-30s impacted the timing in which I felt my body would be ready and have the best chance of having a healthy pregnancy. I knew if I could help it, I’d prefer to have children before the age of 35.
- Financial Stability – To me, financial stability means my husband and I both have jobs, we have good health insurance, and we are able to cover the cost of daycare, medical care and everyday cost of raising a child. The cost of having a child can add up, especially in those first few years. So, I researched these costs — everything from the medical costs related to birthing a child and what health insurance will cover to the average annual cost of child and the cost of daycare in our area. Looking at the numbers and knowing that we could afford it really made me feel more ready.
- Work-Life Balance & Boundaries – I had a strong feeling I’d be happiest as a working mom. I have really enjoyed having a job and identity outside of my home-life. I also really appreciate the extra financial stability that my job provides. That said, I have had jobs where maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been very difficult. There were times in my late twenties that I was regularly working late at night because my workload was so intense. The expectations for that job were unrealistic and the organization was understaffed. I knew setting new, stronger boundaries would not be well received and would likely just create additional stress. I needed a job change in order to truly feel ready to have a child.
In addition to these factors, there are others I know many women consider when thinking about if they are ready for motherhood. For example, some women really want to be in a house in order to feel ready to have a child. Other women may want to move closer to family, where they know they will have more support in raising a child. Some women may know they will have trouble conceiving and that plays a role in when they feel ready. There may also be life circumstances of your partner to consider, like their career and how that could play a role in the timing of when the two of you would like to enter parenthood together.
I know women who really want to get to a certain position or work a specific number of years so they can afford to be a stay at home mother. Other women may want to earn a promotion or reach a certain career milestone before diving into motherhood. For me, these factors did not really apply to my circumstances or have much weight in terms of what I felt comfortable with. Whatever factors are most important to you, I think those are the things worth bringing up to your partner to discuss and see if you are on the same page.
All in all, I understand why people say, “There’s no perfect time.” Afterall, is the timing for anything ever truly perfect? I don’t think so. But, I think it’s less about things being perfect and more about an optimal timeframe for your life circumstances. Really thinking about what timing you would prefer can be helpful. So can remembering that the first step into motherhood means you are entering a world that you’ll have very little control over. After all, you never know exactly when you will have a child and we don’t know what type of child/children we will end up with.
It is also hard to know how motherhood will change you. It changes women in ways we can’t really imagine until we are going through it. And in part, exactly how it changes us is a result of the type of children we have. Not all pregnancies are the same. Not all babies are the same. Not all toddlers are the same. So, entering motherhood with the acknowledgement that you are relinquishing some control over the experience you will have can actually be quite comforting. At least, it was for me.
While I have learned in the past year that there is no way to fully prepare and feel ready for all the possibilities that come with becoming a mother, I am glad I thought through the factors I mentioned above. I’m thankful that I felt ready for motherhood (well, as ready as I knew I’d ever feel) before Liam made his way into our lives.
If you’re thinking about whether or not you are ready for motherhood, I hope it was helpful to hear my perspective. If you’re a mom or expecting, I’d especially love to hear how you knew you were ready for motherhood.
P.S. Here are my new mom essentials!
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