The pressure to have a kid

My wife turned 31 this weekend.

I turn 35 in less than a month. 35. Smack dab in my mid-30s.

When did we get this old?

It’s not all bad, though. We’re both college graduates with jobs. We’re mildly successful in our chosen careers. We have minimal longterm debt hanging over our heads.

We also have an eye toward a brighter future. And we’re hoping that future starts this year.

Why? Because as of now, we’re childless. And we feel the pressure.

We always intended to have kids at some point, but that far away, nonspecific future date feels more and more like a looming presence with each passing day, week, month and year.

But we’re waiting for the right time.

Yes, we’ve heard there’s never a perfect time. You’ll wait forever, they say.

I get that. But having children is stressful enough, why make it even more so if you can avoid it?

So we wait.

How long? We don’t know.

Early last year, I wrote a column for my newspaper about how the summer/fall of 2016 would be all about us, how we would make the most of our time together, all in anticipation of starting our family.

And we did.

We went to Megan’s first Chicago Cubs game, an Iowa-Iowa State football game, concerts by some of our favorite artists like Needtobreathe, Mat Kearney and Switchfoot, and we even attended a Shakespearean play. Plus, we did our usual yearly trips to my birthplace of Mendota, Ill., for the Sweet Corn Festival and Des Moines for our anniversary.

It was a busy and amazing year.

And we expect even bigger things in 2017.

Will we start a family? Again, I don’t know.

And quit asking, because I feel the pressure.

I’ve even done the math, as most people do when contemplating such things. Say we start trying right now and conceive right away, I’ll be 35 when the kid arrives. When he or she is 35, I’ll be 70. 40? 75. 50? 85. 60? Good luck.

My dad was 26 when I was born. So by the time he was 35, I was 9. My mom? She was 22. So when she was 35, I was 13.


But, according to recent federal data, women are waiting longer and longer to become mothers.

“The mean age of mothers has increased from 2000 to 2014 for all birth orders, with age at first birth having the largest increase, up from 24.9 years in 2000 to 26.3 years in 2014,” so says the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, “(i)ncreases in the average age for all birth orders were most pronounced from 2009 to 2014.”

The New York Times sought to explain this development.

“There’s been a rapid increase in delay since 2009, which is apparently due to the recession,” said Hans-Peter Kohler, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, in the story. “When the economic picture is uncertain, people hold off all sorts of commitments, and having children is one of them.”

Honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve long thought our generation, having gone through the travails of the Great Recession, would be more careful with money. We were just starting our careers, after all, when the bottom fell out of the economy, forcing many of us to be underemployed if we could find work at all.

I personally know what that’s like, working in the newspaper industry.

I’ve seen many a colleague lose their jobs. I even left the business for a while because I figured it was only a matter of time before I, too, would be cut.

And now, with my current paper having been sold, I again feel like my job is nearing an end.

So, I fall in line with our generation and our neverending nervousness about spending mass quantities of money.

We want to save, save, save, not spend, spend, spend.

And once you have that kid, saving isn’t really the priority.

According to a handy, dandy calculator from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, raising a child with our yearly combined salaries in the Midwestern region costs $11,700 per year. Per year. Up to 18, that’s $210,600.

That’s a house. A nice house in these parts.

But I see my friends and their kids. I dream about what that might be like. And I smile.

I really want to be a dad. I know my wife would make a wonderful mom, and I know she can’t wait.

She even remarked how she’s now the same age that her mom was when she was born.


But we continue to wait.

Hopefully, that wait ends soon.


Again with the question. Geez, I just don’t know.

But stay tuned. It’s going to be a heckuva year.

No pressure.


12 thoughts on “The pressure to have a kid

  1. I want to start by saying, I loved the article and your writing. I’m a new mom to a beautiful little 4 month old girl and oh how she’s changed our lives in the most beautiful, chaotic way!

    It’s stressful, it’s hard on marriage but it is so extremely rewarding. You are right to wait until you and your wife are on the same page with your timelines because they can either bring you together or tear you apart!

    Good luck to you and I hope you find the answers!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For someone who didn’t know what he was going to blog about before I went to bed last night, you did such an awesome job with this post. (Sorry if my OCD about the original title ruined it for you. Sometimes I should just be quiet. 😣) I’m glad you believe I will be a great mom…and I think you will be a kick-butt dad. (P.S. Your featured photo seems to suggest you really want a girl…😀)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great post! It’s will never find the “right time” or feel “ready”. But there is nothing wrong with waiting or just letting things happen either. I had my first child at 25. Soooo not what I planned. My ideal age was between 30-35. I’m 36 and just had my 4th.
    I think the benefits of having kids older are 1) you’re where you want to be in life. In your 20’s, you’re still dicking around trying find yourself. 2) you’re financially more capable.

    And’s very hard to save with kids. You manage, but can’t save the amount you want. You settle with what you can 😊

    I do have to say though. Biologically speaking..popping out a baby in your 20’s is easier..

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think people just generally follow what seems only to be the next thing to do, which becomes an expectation.
        Best wishes to you! I say just let things happen naturally. Enjoy life 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad I had my kids back in the 1980’s. There weren’t as many tantalizing things taking our attention and competing with the idea of starting a family. It was just normal to start having kids in your mid 20’s. Most of us had a mortgage, most of us went down to one income for a few years, and we all survived to tell the story (and produced fantastic kids). You’ll know when you’re ready but there will never be a “perfect” time either. Good luck with making the big decision – and don’t do it because you feel pressured – worst reason (other than the one where you have a baby to fix a bad relationship – what’s with that??!!)


  5. It’s good to wait and not let anyone pressure you to make an important decision, but it sounds like your wife’s been thinking about it a lot if she’s comparing how old she is to how old her mother was when she was born.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a complicated issue. There is a clear societal expectation that every couple has children. That can certainly feel like pressure. Then add to that friend groups that are changing diapers and family asking questions and it can be tough. You need to ignore the noise and choose for yourself. Which can be so difficult. That said, from someone who doesn’t know you, it certainly sounds as though you want to be a dad. At least it will be fun trying!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have no expectations of anyone. Most of my friends will never have kids, and I’m proud of them for making the decision that’s right for them with a no apologies attitude. Freedom to travel, explore, self-indulge in one another to the end of time! How poetic.

    I didn’t plan to have kids when I started. I was 27, with an amazing career, enjoying traveling and seeing the world. The kid thing really put a wrench in my plans. I was distraught, not in the right place mentally…but when she came everything changed, suddenly I couldn’t believe I had waited so long! I didn’t want to miss out on more time to get to know her, spend time with her, or see her grow more than I have to. Suddenly I can’t believe I was going to wait longer.

    I’m 31 now…debating a third. My husband wants to be done so we can be retired without kids in the house and still be in our forties. But I still feel like there is one more I’m supposed to meet and cherish, but again, I’m where you are, on the timing. I don’t know if I’m ready yet, and there’s the pressure on me to tie the tubes, at 31?! I’ve had my two (+a bonus), do I really need more?

    Having them (each one of them) will completely change your perspective, I know you’ve heard it before, and I’m not trying to sound I’m not trying to sound like a broken record, but the change in my mindset hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally embraced mommy hood. You think you know, I did, I hated it when people told me that, but they were right, I honestly had no idea, why hadn’t I listened to them?! It’s hard to determine if you are ready if you can’t even yet comprehend what it is you’re ready or not ready for. (Even if you already have one child, each child is unique, each time is different, you never know what you’re in for)

    Liked by 1 person

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