Tanya Enberg: Unexpected Mother

Jul
28
2014

Is Becoming A Mom In Your 20s Better Than Waiting?

PONDERING THE AGE OF MOTHERHOOD — A RETROSPECTIVE

There I am in my twenties.

It’s a chaotic scene — a flurry of fun and sun and heartbreak. There is wonderment and wandering and heart-wrenching moments of uncertainty and bewilderment.

Travel, I couldn’t get enough of it, along with noisy bars, booze, bad boyfriends, live music, and adrenaline-igniting adventures, such as glacier climbing, scaling rock faces, and jumping out of airplanes, for instance.

During my twenties, I never questioned whether I should have kids. The answer was indisputably clear — absolutely not.

Back then I was busy grabbing on to the rungs of the corporate career ladder and pulling myself up. Then there was the whole issue of my heart, which flip-flopped like a simmering pancake on a hot griddle. I am in love oh no, but wait, I am not! Definitely not! Or maybe I am! I think I am. Maybe just a little. Nope, nope, nope … definitely not …'

My furniture, comprised mostly of other people’s castoffs, was portable and light. Most of it was easy to ditch, no strings attached.

I lived in a one-bedroom rental apartment in the heart of Parkdale, in Toronto, that I’d painted fire engine red. It had a big, ground level window overlooking that backyard that didn’t lock, which for some bizarre reason didn’t bother me that much.

I wrote about crime and fires and unspeakable tragedies. I interviewed musicians and authors and covered week-long film and music festivals.

There was no way in hell I was ready for kids.

I couldn’t even keep a Chia pet alive. Houseplants quickly expired in my care. I managed to kill several Ikea 'lucky' bamboo stalks, even though many people told me they were  “indestructible.”

Ha … proved you all wrong!

I didn’t even meet the man of my dreams — the man I eventually married — until my 30s. Heck, I didn’t even understand the importance of owning a good winter coat until then, so what kind of mother would I have made in my 20s?

I think we know the answer to that.

Are there 20-somethings in our culture that are mature enough, selfless enough, fiscally responsible enough, and dependable enough to become parents?

Sure, I just wasn’t one of them.

The closest I’d ever come to displaying signs of having a maternal instinct was caring for a plump, cranky cat that a guy at my work asked me to look after while he was on vacation.

The dude never returned.

I didn’t have the heart to send the cat packing (he was already riddled with abandonment issues), so I kept him.

My 20s, perhaps like yours, were a hazy daze of good times and bad, peppered with some very misguided misadventures.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yet, as I wrote that last line, I thought, but wait …

Maybe I would.

Maybe procreating earlier would’ve been the smart thing to do.

Certainly being a younger parent offers some undeniable advantages.

In your 20s, you have more energy and patience. You are likely less stubborn and not as set in your ways.

For females, you also have increased fertility, reduced health risks during pregnancy and, statistically speaking for men and women alike, the prospect of spending many more years with your children as you age.

Looking back, I occasionally suffer from the complicated retrospective of, "if only I knew then what I know now." 

For instance, I wish I’d known about the intoxicating love parents feel for their children.

Until having our son two years ago, this was a strange and foreign concept about as believable as wacky alien enthusiasts making claims of crop circle formations in far-flung parts of the USA.

I wish I’d known that one lifetime — even one that might prove to be long and healthy — could never offer enough time with my child.

There is something else, too. And this one might make you cringe.

Remember the career I mentioned earlier? The one I’d been ambitiously digging my heels into day after day?

Well, for all of the thrilling cool factors my work has offered, it pales in comparison to parenthood. I don’t expect you to believe me. I wouldn’t have believed me. As if! I would’ve laughed. I might’ve even rolled my eyes.

So, I tell you this now — it truly does. You fall more deeply in love with your child every day and it is insane. That love, it eclipses everything. Like crop circles, you probably have to experience it to believe it.

But, you also have to be ready for it.

Thankfully, one day I was.

Sure, I am a bit crankier, achier, and, perhaps, I have less patience (and more laugh lines) than I used to, but I have also accumulated incredible stories, well-earned lessons, the occasional battle scar, and even some tidbits of wisdom along the way.

I’ve learned what is important and what isn't. I've experienced enough to know who I am and who I am not.

And I definitely know this — if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t want to change a single thing.

Read more posts by Tanya Enberg! Try these: 5 Reasons to Leave the Kids Behind on Your Next Vacation and Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting a New Mom.