On Starting a Family

smiling babyI was sitting in the Starbucks drive through one morning and watched a pregnant lady stroll by in front of my car. She was probably 6 or 7 months pregnant.  She was as cute as can be and looked so happy, laughing as her and her friend walked by. I’m sure her feet were probably swollen and she might not have slept well the night before, but she looked genuinely happy.

As I sat there waiting for my coffee, I realized that I don’t really have that overwhelming desire to be that woman. Don’t get me wrong, I do want kids. (As a matter of a fact, I want 5!) However, I realized that I don’t long to be pregnant. I don’t get that empty feeling in my stomach when I see a mom holding a new baby. I don’t lay awake at night thinking about starting a family. I do want a family, and I do look forward to being a mom someday, but I just don’t long for it.

On the other hand, when I see a woman in a suit speaking at a conference or leading an important meeting, I do get excited. There’s something about having a successful career that wakes me up inside. I have big goals and even bigger dreams, and I could talk business all day! When I look at myself in a futuristic way, business is what I see. As a matter of a fact, I can’t ever remember seeing myself at home with adorable children tugging on my apron. When I think back to my childhood thoughts on my future, I remember seeing myself standing before a projector in a Fortune 500 company, explaining some revolutionary breakthrough I discovered. Since I can remember, my idea of success has always centered around a predominant career.

The more I thought about my focus on career goals instead of family goals, the more guilty I felt. After all, I do want a family. I do want to bake cupcakes for school parties and go to every soccer game. The fact that I want to make a name for myself in the workforce doesn’t at all mean that I don’t also want to be a wonderful mommy some day.

As I thought more about this struggle between work and family, I realized that thousands of other women probably battle this same thing. I realized that each and every one of us have different goals or timelines for our lives and that none of them are “wrong.” Some women want lavish careers. Some want to be at home everyday raising beautiful babies. Some want both. Some do one or the other and some do both. Some moms bake after-school snacks from scratch and some pick up snacks from the drive through.

It was in that moment that I realized that it’s ok to want both. It’s ok to focus more heavily on one or the other, or it’s ok to fight for a balance between the two.

The fact that I’m not longing to have children right now doesn’t mean that I’ll make a bad mother someday. It doesn’t mean that I’m less of a woman than the lady standing next to me with a sweet two year old looking up at her. It just means that I’m different. And you’re different. We’re all different, but we’re all still amazing in our own ways. There’s nothing that we can’t accomplish, regardless of what those goals are. Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a successful business woman, it doesn’t matter. You’re still a wonderful, amazing woman who has the opportunity to make a difference in the world. The difference that you make may come through in cupcakes and kissed bruises, or it may be through a successful marketing campaign. Either way, you will make a difference to someone.

Deep down I know that I’m writing my own story and that I’ll always be thankful for sticking to my guns and following my own timeline. However, sometimes it’s hard to not be discouraged when people question your plans. It’s hard to not feel inferior when people ask, “when are y’all going to have kids?” Yes, having children is the next apparent step in our story, but it’s not a step that we have to take now. If you’re curious, I don’t plan to have kids until I just can’t stand not having them any more. (Obviously, I know that we can’t plan everything in our lives. Actually, I’ve always said that my first child will most likely have to be unplanned.)

I mentioned starting a category here on the blog for things that I’ve learned, and I think this is a big one. I’m slowly learning that it’s ok to not follow the norm. People will likely talk and ask inappropriate questions. And inevitably, someone will unintentionally make you feel bad about yourself at one point or another. It’s ok. I’d rather live my life in a way that I feel passionately about than succumb to tradition.

If you want to have lots a babies right away, please do! If you want to travel the world, do it. If your dreams revolve around finding the next big thing, keep searching. If anything, this post is about celebrating, and more importantly, respecting the differences in our dreams. We don’t have to all look and act the same. We don’t have to want the same things, and we don’t have to follow the same path. We each have a purpose in this world and the paths to get there will most definitely be different. That’s what makes this ole life so interesting!

Today I charge you to not judge people for being different. Instead, make time to celebrate the difference among us. If at all possible, try to encourage the women around you, even if their dreams might be a little different than yours. They most likely need it.

Thank you, Naomi, for letting me borrow a photo of your sweet Adley.

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