It’s no secret that I got married young. And fast. I was 18 when I married my husband and I’d only known him for a year. I was immature and naive; I had no money, job, education, or apartment; and by all traditional standards I had absolutely no business getting married. But I’m so glad I did.
While we were dating there were many people who were more than willing to offer unhelpful advice, rude jokes and cautionary tales. One woman’s advice stands out to me as probably the worst I’ve ever gotten. She told me that no one should ever get married and have kids until they are well into their 30’s when they’ve gained enough experience to be ready for it.
At first it sounds good, right? Don’t jump into anything. Be cautious. Wait until you’re ready. Wait until you’re more mature.
Here’s why waiting until you’re ready to have kids might be horrible advice:
1. Nothing magical happens when you reach a certain age.
An arbitrary age at which you’re suddenly ready for something is absurd. We learn and grow gradually and at different rates. I may not have been very mature, but I had at least gained enough willingness to learn to be mature that I could figure out the rest as I went along.
2. If you’re waiting until you feel ready, you never will be.
When has sitting around waiting for readiness ever actually prepared you for something? We have to actually get ready for things on purpose by working toward goals. When I got engaged I did a lot of reading, praying, soul-searching, class-taking and getting to know my fiance. If you want to be ready, you have to make yourself ready.
3. Even if you do think you’re ready, you’re really not.
When I got married I was ready for love and commitment. I was not ready for finances and communication.
When I had my 1st kid I was ready for nighttime feedings and lots of diapers. I was not ready for being tired all the time and never having a moment to myself.
When I had my 2nd I was ready for double the diapers and bottles. I was not ready for both toddlers to be running in different directions and for one kid to lock the other in the bathroom.
When I had my 3rd I was ready for extra cleaning and more juggling. I was not ready for getting pregnant again when she was 4 months old.
When I had my 4th I was ready to have two babies close together. I was not ready for her to be born 3 months early and have a 2 1/2 month hospital stay.
When I had my 5th, a full 7 1/2 years later, I was ready to start all over again with the baby stuff. I was not ready for having to chauffeur teenagers around all day with a screaming toddler in the back who did not like his car seat one bit.
When I thought I’d have a 6th I was ready to have just one more girl to even everything out. I was not ready for the doctor to tell me my body couldn’t handle having anymore kids.
Everything I’ve ever done in my life that I thought I was ready for, I wasn’t. At first.
4. You gain experience by having experiences.
Nothing could have possibly prepared me for what was ahead in my life. And now that I’m well into my 30’s I have all those experiences because I had them before I was ready.
If there’s something you’re waiting to be ready for, stop waiting. Actively seek out what it is you want. Make yourself ready. You’ll never get where you want to go unless you start along the path at some point. Getting married at tender age of 18 and having kids right away is not what everyone wants, and not everyone is even willing to start learning maturity at that age. But if I hadn’t started on that path when I did, learning as I went, I wouldn’t have what I have today: a loving husband, 5 good-natured and hilarious kids, and 30+ years of experiences.