After the post on my struggle with whether or not to start planning for a family, a good friend sent me a very insightful and encouraging email that I think addresses some of the fears some of my girl friends and I have. I must keep in mind that right now, I only see/anticipate the difficulty and am not seeing the incredible blessing and love that only parents know. So, here is her email (published with permission):
I totally understand where the selfish instinct is coming from, we all have it and I was where you are not very long ago. As does the fear. I think there’s something wrong with people who aren’t more than a little freaked out about parenting. Those who aren’t don’t treat it with the gravity it deserves. On the flipside I think sometimes the media, parenting books and studies etc scare us into thinking there are so many ways we can screw up our kids and our marriage and it’s impossible to do it right. So it prompts people into entering into parenthood (and nowadays marriage) from a place of fear, and not hope, or God forbid, even an excited sense of adventure.
I think we need to enter into parenthood with the same degree of seriousness & optimism as starting anything challenging, serious and deeply committed, like marriage or a new career: with optimism, hope, along with real awareness of the commitment and sacrifice required. And as you already have God guiding your marriage, He will more so guide the two of you as you parent together. As for not being mature enough, there is a reason our biology enables us to breed from our teenage years. Our offspring do not need our “maturity”, they need our love, guidance and basic material sustenance. And we are more than capable of providing that. “Maturity” is what grandparents (and a few generations ago great-grandparents) are for.
And the other upside I’m learning, the ‘sacrifices’ that are required change — and quickly. I envisioned (and worried) about having this dependent creature attached to me and this total loss of freedom. That stage actually lasts only a few months. I worried about lack of sleep. That stage was also only a few months. I worried we’d never have date nights because she’d have stranger anxiety and wouldn’t want a babysitter to deal with her. That also was a few months. I worried about having to clean up mess from food tossed onto walls. That phase lasted weeks. Now I have to watch her like a hawk because she’s starting to climb things. But knowing what I know now I don’t stress about it. She’ll learn not to and move onto some next challenge — probably in a matter of weeks.
Having said all that, you will find parenting (and sustaining your marriage) much easier if you have a support network. They really weren’t kidding when they say it takes a village. I don’t think God ever planned for us to parent alone. I would venture to say He also didn’t plan for us to nurture our marriage alone. So if you do decide to start your family, please know that we are happy to be part of your support network.
God bless as you discern this important next step in your life!