I have recently come across a lot of anxiety on social media and blogs about parenthood and “settling down.” On the one hand, I totally get it. Having kids is scary and life changing and yatta yatta. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, because being a parent is a super serious job. But if we’re being completely honest here… a great deal of parents embark on this great expedition without ever really deciding on it at all. Many of us stumble upon this journey blind and afraid. But I wholeheartedly disagree with the perception that motherhood offers nothing but a life of limits and bounds. I don’t even think that doing the job well requires the dreaded “settling down” if you don’t want it to.
First of all, the idea that having a baby somehow dismantles your sense of self, derails your ambitions, and sets fire to your dreams is a high school scare tactic. I am in no way advocating for teenage pregnancies, but rather challenging a perception formed in childhood, that many carry over into adulthood. You do not have to sell your soul to nurture a baby, you don’t have to stop living life to be a good mother.
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Parenthood can definitely challenge a marriage. But so can life. Like all things, parenthood is both an adventure and a battlefield. It can grow your love for your spouse in ways you’ve never imagined. Besides, overcoming challenges together is what marriage is supposed to be about.
I fell pregnant to my son at 19, young and irresponsible by most standards…even my own. But in all honestly, he hasn’t cost me a single life experience. I still travel – domestically and abroad. Jace had his first plane ride at four months old. Zoey had hers at five.I still completed my bachelors degree (and honestly, my kiddos were probably the only reason I finished.) Sure, I bought a house at 20 years old. But as luck would have it…houses were a crazy good investment in 2010 and I am now sitting on quite a bit of equity. Due to wanting a flexible work schedule so that I could spend most of my time with my kids, I have dodged shackling myself to a full time job (also, HUGE shout out to my hubby on this one 😉 ) I would have to argue that my career oriented friends have “settled down” wayyyy harder than I have because of my children.
Having children can be a reason to settle down if that’s what you want for your family. It is in no way a requirement in the mystical Book for Perfect Parenting. Oftentimes, the children who have moved around the most end up being the most cultured and appreciative. No one faults the military family for moving every other year. It does not in some way damage their children. No one faults the missionary family, for moving their small children abroad to experience life in what many Americans would consider third world conditions. I went to school with a guy who grew up with a missionary family in Belarus, some might argue this was a downright dangerous place to raise American children 20 years ago, but GOSH did he have amazing stories and he said he was so proud of his parents for it.
The point is, you set the limits for your life. Children have this amazing quality of being 100% portable. You can bring them with you wherever you chose. Heck, their tiny clothes take up WAY less space in a suitcase. When I travel with my kids, I probably spend less time in bars and more time in parks and zoos than my kidless counterparts. But honestly, we went to Germany and Austria sans kiddos and went to one bar. I guess it’s just not my thing anyway.
Don’t be afraid to “settle down.” I don’t find it to be a real phase of life anyway. Your vision for motherhood doesn’t have to align with anyone else’s. Children aren’t a death sentence for your marriage, nor the life of adventure that you desire. They are pathways. They are not roots, they are wings.