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.