Forget the internal clock and ask yourself these questions
It’s not about the internal clock.
I was out to dinner the other night with a few girls that I had just met through a mutual friend. We quickly started asking each other qualifying questions. “What do you do?”, “Are you married?”, “Do you have kids?” I found out relatively quickly that I was the only one of the five of us with a child.
It is a goal of mine to not talk about my kid when I am around a group of new young women. I know that just a few years ago, I hated, I mean strongly disliked, hearing about other people’s kids. I would always think to myself, is that all you really have to talk about? And then, once I became a new mom, it seemed to be the only thing that women asked me about. “How’s the baby?”, “Is she sleeping all night?” I went to a holiday party with 20 women I barely knew and no one, literally no one, asked me “What do you do for a living?”, “What are your hobbies?” Why is that? Why don’t women inquire about other women’s professions and interests? Why is having children the only common denominator? I digress, maybe for another time.
Back to dinner. The oldest of the five of us at dinner said she was considering having children soon because she was getting older. And you know, the clock. I thought to myself, why do women keep saying that? The clock, the clock. News flash - women are safely having kids later in life these days.
Instead of using the clock as a reason to have a child, I think women should be a bit smarter and start asking themselves the really hard questions.
“Am I where I want to be professionally?”, “What % of the childcare work am I going to do vs. my husband?”, “Am I ready to sacrifice time with my husband? Time spent on my career? Time spent on myself?"
Let’s start at the top. “Am I where I want to be professionally?”
When I got pregnant, I had a great job. I had been with the same company for 3 years and was satisfied with my role and compensation. When I was 5 months pregnant, a new job in a subsidiary came open that offered new responsibilities and a chance to expand my skill set. I went for it. I raised my hand and asked for the job. To my surprise, they actually gave it to me. Yes, at 5 months pregnant. Oh, and did I mention that it was a promotion? The point? Do not stop going after the promotion or the next advancement before you have that baby. Why? Because it is really, really hard to keep up the momentum in the first year after having a baby. I am not suggesting that your career will stop once having a child, but it will likely take a brief pause. You will be missing days because of sick nannies, sick baby, and baby doctor appointments. You will also have “I am so tired” days because the baby didn’t cooperate by sleeping the night before. My daughter is turning 1 in a few weeks and I still feel like I am not performing the way I want to at work. I feel lucky every day that I work for a great company that has been flexible since I returned from maternity leave. I believe they have been so flexible because of all the hard work I put in the 3 years before having the baby. Some of you may be asking, “What has your husband been doing?”
That’s a perfect segway into the next question you should be asking yourself, “What % of the childcare work am I going to do vs. my husband”?
Let me start by saying that I have an incredibly present husband who is a great dad and helps me out a ton. But, he works a lot. I am talking 4:30am to 6:00pm every weekday + 4-6 hours on the weekend and most nights he is responding to emails as we relax in bed after the baby goes down. We moved to San Antonio from Kansas City a little over three years ago for his promotion. At that point, long before kids, we made the decision to follow his career. That didn’t necessarily mean that I had to sacrifice mine, but it was going to take second fiddle. I didn’t really feel the pain before the baby. He left early and came home late, but we still had enough time together and I didn’t mind my alone time watching my TV shows or going to happy hour with my girlfriends. Once we knew we were pregnant, his work schedule came up a lot in conversation. Are you going to come home earlier? When are you going to be able to go to the gym and have your own time? Are you still going to work on Sundays? Basically, I was asking him, how are you going to fit it all in?! Now, a year later he does his best, but I would say it is 70% me, 30% him on taking care of the baby. It is important to be realistic with yourself and your situation and to have the dialogue with your spouse about expectations after the baby comes. Are you ok with it being 50% on you, 70%? 90%? If it is 90% you, then what all are you sacrificing?
Are you ok with those sacrifices?
When that baby comes, there will be sacrifices. You will have to make hard choices about how you spend your time. You will have less time with your husband, less date nights, less hungover movie days on the couch while you stuff your face with Papa Johns. Oh, just me? How I miss those days. It takes us 3 days to watch a movie and most dinners we have fractioned conversations over the babbling of a 1 year old that is “all done” with everything and keeps dropping her food on the floor. Yes, we often get a sitter and go on a proper date, but not like we used to. Plus, dinner just doubled in price after paying the sitter. You will have less time to work. You will have to change the way you work. Nannies and daycare will only watch your kid for so many hours a day. You will have to rearrange your schedule, work on what is most important for today and figure out the rest tomorrow. I am fortunate to have a nanny. She is truly an extension of our family - but she has her own family and can only work from 8:30 to 5:00. Yes, that is only 42.5 hours a week! I am lucky to work from home so these hours work for us, but it is still a lot less than I am used to working. Time with yourself will also be sacrificed. Do you like to go for a weekly pedi or binge watch NetFlix or go on a run or grab drinks with your girlfriends once a week or read trashy romance novels? All of that is possible after baby, but it will take you 5x longer to get through that show and that weekly pedi turned monthly and you still need to call back your girlfriend that called you 3 weeks ago. There are just as many hours in the day, but the hours fly by and you can never seem to fit it all in.
Having a baby is a blessing, there is no doubt about it.
But getting older is not a reason to start a family.In order to be the best wife and mother, you need to be prepared for the change that will come, otherwise, you will just resent your husband and the baby.I encourage you continue toconsider where you are in your life, push on in your career, talk to your spouse, and think about how the changes will impact yourself and your family.
Meet the author
Bliss Weller has worked in corporate finance for 10 years and currently works as the VP of Finance at a video advertising company. Over that 10-year career, she has challenged herself to push forward and advance herself every step of the way with a never satisfied mindset. She is new to motherhood and is trying to kick its ass every, single day. If you know her personally, you know that she will always tell you the truth, even if it is hard to hear, and will do anything for her friends and family.
Bliss’s book recommendations: Baby Wise, Happiest Baby on the Block, and Lean In