Either Weebly or my filter is not letting me comment on my own post (on other posts -- yes; on this one -- no), so I can't respond in the comment section. But all the comments so far are very inspiring and written from the heart (and much appreciated!).
This wasn't in the post, but based on the comments, I feel it's important to add that while getting pregnant later in life is often more difficult (as mentioned in the post), it's far from impossible. Two commenters had children from age 37 and onward. I've personally known women who got pregnant for the first time at age 39 and another at age 45 shortly after her first marriage -- no fertility treatments or even herbs, and no long wait!
So if this is your situation, please don't despair! And I wish all of you much bracha and hatzlacha.
(And thank you to all the commenters for sharing their stories & giving chizuk.)
My orthodontist cheerfully informed me that she waited until around age 37 to start a family. "I wanted to wait until I wouldn't feel resentful about not being able to go out to dinner," she said with a warm smile.
As if your own child isn't worth missing a couple of hours in a restaurant in the evening.
As if you can never go out to dinner again...
I secretly wanted marriage and children instead of a career (though I wanted to be a novelist on the side too), but couldn’t admit this—not even to myself.
You were supposed to push off marriage and children for as long as possible. Education, career, travel, living one’s dreams, sowing wild oats, and all that took precedence.
Marriage and children came only when you had lived your life and were either finished with everything else or were just sick of it.
Sadly, this has led a great many women into the dilemma of being at the height of her career just as her biological clock starts running out of time. Now she’s supposed to find a husband--or if she already has a husband, start trying to get pregnant and then deal with pregnancy and juggle a baby when her career is going full-force.
Furthermore, many women discover that it’s not as easy to get pregnant at 38 as it would have been at 22.
And while frum women continue to have children throughout their fertile years, a non-Jewish journalist pointed out that for other Western women who anyway only plan on 1-3 children, it makes more sense to build your family when you’re on the upside of fertility, when you’re young and can deal with sleepless nights (she makes the point that college students often throw themselves into all-nighters: study sessions, parties, discussions & heart-to-heart talks, etc), and are still at the beginning of their career.
Yes, building a career (if a woman wants) goes more slowly with young children, but it’s better to do things that way and hit your momentum when they are relatively self-sufficient teenagers rather than hit your momentum—and then need to slow down or stop to deal with birth, recovery, and a child who will be very dependent on you for the next few years.
The Best Feeling Ever
Not only did I realize I’d been lied to my whole life, but that I’d been lied to very badly.
And I felt so betrayed.
Having a baby was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
I felt so lucky and grateful. I felt like my baby was a treasure and that I somehow merited the great fortune of this special treasure being given to me.
Also, I felt a love that I’d never felt before.
But before I continue, it bears noting that every situation is different. Some people get the baby blues after birth, some people face emergencies, tragedies, or colicky babies, and some people don’t feel joy but feel heavy (albeit not unpleasant) responsibility instead. Varying amounts of anxiety are often part of the post-partum recovery too.
And that’s all in the realm of normal and nothing to feel guilty or defective about. If you do feel tremendous joy after birth, it’s a big chessed from Hashem and something for which to be grateful.
And I also faced difficulties. Just as 2 examples: The healing episiotomy hurt and was a nuisance to care for. The nursing went pretty badly and was excruciatingly painful for an entire month (despite following all the expert nursing advice), and it continued to be an unexpectedly stress-filled hassle until I got pregnant with the next child around 8 or 9 months later. Phew!
And despite the ups and downs of parenthood, the times when I wanted to run away, and the times when I feel like a big failure as a mother, I always feel like me kids are the best thing I’ve ever done in life. (And I didn’t even do it—it was Hashem! But still.)
But I was deeply in love with the baby himself. And that kind of love is a very pure love to experience because it’s so strong, intense, joyful—and selfless. A baby only takes and can’t give anything back (except smiles—but only after a few weeks). So you’re just rejoicing in the free gift of his very existence—pretty heady stuff.
And I had no idea I would feel that way until I did.
The Truth about Marriage & Motherhood
Why is the emphasis always on the hardships of motherhood and not the fulfillment or the rewards?
I felt like I’d only started living life with his birth! I realized that I didn’t have a life before I had my kids.
And I felt regret that I hadn’t gotten married and pregnant right out of high school instead of wasting my time. (It would’ve been kinder for my husband too, instead of him suffering through shidduchim until I finally got my act together.)
Yet when I told someone, “If only I’d known how great this would be, I’d have done this much earlier!”, she laughed and said, “But were you ready before now?”
“Well, no,” I said.
“That’s what everyone says,” she told me. “They all wish they’d done this earlier, but admit they weren’t ready before.”
She’s right—but she’s also wrong.
Her comment got me thinking…why wasn’t I ready until I married at 23?
Well, I needed to become frum first and to get myself solidly into the Torah life. But other than that?
An informal survey showed me that I wasn’t alone in feeling that any major inner growth came because of marriage and children, and not a result of work prior to marriage and children.
Many women feel that the experience of dealing with marriage and children increased their emotional maturity—maturity and inner growth that couldn’t come any other way.
Needless to say, marriage and children don’t guarantee peak emotional maturity. There are many immature and irresponsible parents walking around. Furthermore, some people are so dysfunctional, they really shouldn’t get married or have children yet because they simply will not be able to rise to the occasion.
The point is that whatever level of emotional maturity you found yourself on before you married and procreated, that level rises after marriage and procreation. Usually. Most people are better people after marriage and children—even if they feel like they’re not.
This is because even during parenthood’s most stressful, miserable, and despairing times, you’re still doing something meaningful.
You’re rectifying profound soul issues and changing the world.
You can’t say that about partying, making money, climbing the corporate ladder, performing, falling into yet another meaningless relationship with no future, drinking, touring Paris, or lying on the beach with the latest bestseller.
Nurturing Different Facets of Self
Taking courses either online or a couple of times a week at available hours gives mothers degrees and skills for paying jobs.
It’s more of a juggle when you have kids, but it’s definitely doable—at least to a certain extent. And many if not most mothers participate in activities outside the domestic sphere, so it's obviously a realistic thing.
The Other Big Lie
When is that option ever offered?
You CAN push things off until later in life. And it’s okay to do that.
Just like secular society encourages people to push off marriage and children until later in life, you can do that with other things too.
For example, I know so many women who made a career change, starting in their late forties. Their kids were older or out of the house and they started taking courses toward a new degree. Then they phased out their old career to start the new one around fifty.
What’s wrong with that?
As a personal example, there are certain activities and classes I’d like to indulge in, but I don’t have the time or extra money right now. And that’s perfectly fine! I’m not tortured by their absence right now and it gives me something to look forward to in my fifties and sixties. Why not?
What is the big pressure to do everything (except child-bearing) before you’re 40?
It’s not a coincidence that youth-and-hedonism-worshiping Hollywood pushes this whole deception. Those degenerates portray the world as they honestly see it.
But it’s a big tragedy that so many people fall into it.
Breaking Out of the Big Lie about Motherhood