We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Candace Abbott talks about why she’s decided to wait to become a parent until she’s in her forties. -JKM
There it is, staring back at me in my mailbox—the Giggle catalog. Loaded with the chubby faces of adorable babies, modern motherhood gadgets that you “have to have” (or you stand to fail at parenting), the sweetest onesies, toys, the best in swaddle blankets and the Rolls Royces of strollers, this glossy mailer arrives in my mailbox every couple of weeks or so. But, why? I didn’t magically end up on their mailing list. I made it happen.
Back when I was 29 years old, the reality of my 30th birthday approaching started to settle in, and I began to think about motherhood. But, I was doing more than thinking about it, I was silently obsessing over it, which explains why I started a registry for Giggle for an imaginary shower in celebration of an imaginary baby. The only thing that wasn’t imaginary about the whole thing was the pressure I was feeling to start the road to mommyhood.
Fast forward to now, five years later. I’m 34, in a committed relationship and still childless, but that pressure has subsided. And, now rather than question what kind of birth plan or bouncer I like best, I’m questioning if I even want children. This doesn’t always sit well with people. Mostly because they don’t understand.
It’s rare that I go a month without someone asking when I’m having children or telling me I need to hurry because I’m getting older. I had always subscribed to the idea of being a mother in my late twenties, for a few reasons. One, I didn’t want to wear the badge of “old mom,” so a baby by 30 seemed like a good idea. And two, I truly believed you could achieve everything you wanted in life by the tender age of 29, leaving your thirties to be years spent child-rearing, caravaning little ones to and fro, and perfecting your parenting game with mix of playdates and organic fruits and veggies.
I was wrong. Very wrong. By 29, I hadn’t even begun to achieve my full potential professionally or personally. I had a good job as a copywriting manager for a well-known fashion retailer, but it was my first foray into management and I was still learning. I hadn’t traveled much beyond a trip to Paris. And, granted, my twenties were glamorous years spent in San Francisco with a cool magazine job and a freelance gig along with invitations to some of the best parties in town and a throng of cool friends who I boozed and brunched with, in between crazy dating adventures, but in no way had I achieved it all.
In my current state, I’m well-versed in the narrative of waiting to have children (including the potential health risks), but the idea of perhaps becoming a mother in my forties appeals to me. Nowadays, if you hear a woman talk about becoming a mother later in life, it’s attached to a lot of preconceived thinking. Ideas like, “aw, she couldn’t find a man,” or “she’s definitely going to struggle with infertility,” pervade these conversations, when sometimes, that isn’t the truth at all. In my case, it’s the opposite. I have a loving partner and no fertility issues. There’s just a certain type of parent I’d like to be, and I can’t be that attentive parent who wants to give one-hundred percent at this stage in my life.
The decision to hold off on children until my forties—or not have them at all—comes from a place of “keeping it real with myself.” My career stands to grow, significantly, which in turn means, my money stands to grow and that’s important to me. I believe that by virtue of an extra decade I could close that wage and confidence gap, potentially becoming a more financially stable parent. Back in 2014, my boyfriend and I sat at dinner on a Friday night and he asked me a loaded question. He said, “If your career continues to grow and you continue to make more money—say you’re making over $100k a year—would you stop it all to have a baby?” Without hesitation, I replied, an emphatic, “yes.” I sat in that restaurant with tears in my eyes, in disbelief that he would even say such a thing. But, he was on to something. Time and opportunity have the power to change you.The closer I got to the career I wanted, the further I got from wanting to be a parent.
Another reason I’m in no hurry is because there’s still more of the world to see. I’m just not ready to put traveling on hold. Sometimes it’s all I ever think about. Last August, we traveled to St. Lucia and it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever experienced. I left that little island with inexplicable memories. I left there craving more.
I like the quiet of my house on Saturday mornings right now. I have three small dogs, who require a lot of love and attention, and I’m happy to give it. I enjoy that I can wake up, flip on the Keurig and cuddle up with one of my dogs, watch the sun shine through our place, and have a peaceful moment of solitude, while Tony sleeps a little longer. If I were a mother right now, I wouldn’t have that luxury. My Saturdays would be laced with cartoons, cereal, and shuffling to activities or the park. I like my freedom too much these days.
I have a lot of girlfriends with kids, and I think their children are wonderful. I love when my friends have new babies and I get to buy Aden + Anais swaddle blankets, and ask them questions about nursing or how their baby sleeps or the crazy things their toddlers are doing and saying. But, that’s not for me—even though Pinterest says it should be.
I was recently asked by a friend and coworker, “Do you ever think you’ll have real babies and not just fur babies.” I replied with, “Maybe when I’m 40 or so.” She looked back at me with big eyes and said, “really,” almost in disbelief. I laughed a little and gave her the annotated version of why.
You see, my life is everything I ever wanted it to be at 34—and sometimes more. There are days where my accomplishments amaze me, the opportunities that I’m afforded are often far and few between, and though a child stands to bring joy and a new layer of learning to my life, I don’t want it. Tony once said to me (at the height of my baby obsession), “why are we living for someone who doesn’t exist yet?” And, that has never left me. This is my life and I’m choosing not to bring a child into it—not now anyway and maybe not ever.
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