Making the decision to have kids is one of the hardest decisions my husband and I have ever made. It wasn’t just deciding if we were ready for the huge life-changing experience, but whether we could actually afford it in the first place. I was working full-time as a web designer and my husband, full-time as a graphic designer. We had a comfortable life – not rich, not poor, but enough disposable income to have an annual holiday, the odd night out and a nice wardrobe. Making the decision to have a baby would mean that my wage would be reduced quite dramatically – statuary maternity pay is only £128.73 per week (www.direct.gov.uk, 17th July 2011) and we had a mortgage and bills to keep on paying. But the big question was – when would be the right time to have a baby? If we hadn’t chosen to have a baby, we would have bought a bigger house with a larger mortgage and then never would have been able to afford for me to go on maternity leave. So we chose to sacrifice the large home for a life of dirty nappies and sleepless nights. In today’s climate, I don’t think this sacrifice is all that uncommon.
When I was pregnant with our son, my husband and I decided to pay to attend NCT classes – these were weekly antenatal classes run by the ‘National Child Trust’. I remember the first time we turned up for the class – we entered the room to be greeted by six other couples. The first thing which struck me was that they were all so much older than us! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no teenage mum, I was twenty four at the time, but the average age of the other mums-to-be was around thirty. I suddenly felt as though everyone in the room was looking at me like I had done something naughty and got pregnant – silly I know, because now I know these mums, I realise that they were as new and naive to the whole situation as me. However, I still felt so young in comparison to them all – their cars were nicer, their houses bigger and all were a lot more established in their careers than us. I came away from the first class in a panic – were we rushing into this whole baby malarky? It wasn’t until we sat down and discussed my concerns that I realised, in twenty years time, when my child will be old enough to fend for himself, I will only be forty five. This would leave us with plenty of years left to do things as a couple once more – I’m talking Mediterranean cruises, long weekends away and frequent holidays to Las Vegas. If we had waited another ten years, I would be fifty five when our son reaches twenty and that gave us ten less years to enjoy ourselves, as a couple once again. Maybe becoming young parents wasn’t such a bad thing after all?
Now I am a mum, I would never change it. We may be temporarily sacrificing the large home, nights out and sporty car, but we have gained so much more. The joy and rewards which come with raising a child far out weight any materialistic object. I have found that there will always be other people or friends in better financial situations than us, that’s the way life is, but when it comes to having a child, as long as you can provide a home, food, warmth and love, then everything else will adapt by itself. The time will never be ‘right’ because life will always find a way to get in the way but you know when it’s time.