An open letter to all parents (from a non-parent)
Is having kids the only way to 'live'?

Dear parents 

I'm at that point in life that most single, almost-thirty year olds reach, where the majority of my friends are settling down and making babies. It’s also the point at which I find myself being told at weddings "don’t worry, you’ll get there" by people who seem to think that getting married and starting a family is the answer to all of life's problems, or that I haven’t really succeeded because I’m not anywhere near ready to settle down, never mind have kids. How rude.

Read more: I'll never do that when I'm a parent

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When you ask me if I'm worried about approaching 30 as a single female who’s a long way away from being ready to take on the responsibilities of starting a family or becoming a mother, I feel as though I've done something wrong.

It's not that I don't want kids, I just don't want them right NOW. 

I can barely keep an orchid alive for longer than a week

No, I'm not worried about the fact that I'm almost 30 and single, I'm far more concerned about the fact that I haven't secured a future for myself yet and that I still haven't managed to secure the start of some sort of career so that I can be completely independent. I'm far more worried about the fact that a lot of my friends (not all) who got married in their 20's are already talking about cheating and divorce. I can barely keep my orchid alive for longer than a week. The goldfish I once had lived for two weeks before it exploded in its tank and the few pets I had that are still alive, were left to my parents to look after. I should not be a parent right now. 

I haven’t accomplished half the things that I’d like to before having kids and call me selfish, but there are still so many things that I’d like to tick off from my bucket list before putting myself in a position that makes it a lot harder to do. I want to travel more, alone, (or with a companion), but not with children. Not yet. I want to establish a career and be able to work my way up to becoming a better version of myself.

I'm aware that many of you are able to do this and that there are still many things you can do for yourself, even with kids. I admire you all for this. But a lot of you are the ones who tell me how much you envy my freedom and that you secretly resent the life you jumped into too soon. This doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you human. But please don’t feel sorry for me for not making the same choices.

Au pairing: a great contraceptive 

I don’t want to rush into settling down with someone, for the sake of having kids. I’m aware that as a woman, there are certain, timely factors to consider, and that falling pregnant closer to 40 has its risks. But does this mean I should beg the next guy I meet on Tinder to procreate with me and rush into a whole new part of life that I know I’ll end up resenting one day?

I’d much rather be a single mom, if I had to be a mom at all right now.

I know most of you think that I have no idea what I’m talking about and that if I had kids of my own I’d think very differently about this, and maybe that’s true. But having au paired for over ten years and experienced some of your journeys with you, I’ve had a fair amount of insight to know that this is something I know I’m not ready for.

I’ve seen the ins and outs, the ups and downs and the highs and lows of parenting through all sorts of different families of different ages. I wouldn't be able to be half as good a parent as some of you, so let’s be thankful that people like me are without children for now.

I want the same things that you do, but not right now

I don’t hate kids. I love kids and I hope that I’ll be able to have children of my own one day when I’m financially, emotionally and realistically stable, so that I can be the kind of parent who is able to give ‘more’ of themselves  to their kids. But kids are precious and I’d want to make damn sure that I’m at peace with myself and that I was truly ready to be a stable parent without feeling as though I hadn't ‘lived’ enough first.

If I get married, I don’t ever want to put myself or my future kids through divorce or the kind of situations that I’ve seen so many broken families go through. I know that it’s part of life for a lot of people and I by no means judge any of you for choosing divorce. It’s just something that I feel I want to avoid as much as possible.

If I get to 40 and I still haven’t found the right person to settle down and have kids with, or I’m still not stable enough (shudders at the thought) so be it. I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted that this might be the case while I’m still way behind the starting-line of a possible career, a possible partner and a possible mother, but I refuse to give in and give up on what I want to achieve for myself first.

Maybe I’ll be 50 by the time I feel ready enough to take on the responsibilities of a parent. There’s also the option of having your eggs frozen and I’m pro this, or maybe I’ll adopt. Earth is full and I’m not too sure how I feel about being an older parent, but I’m sure I’d be a better parent than I would be if it had to happen now. Hey, I loved other people’s kids for the last ten years, perhaps au pairing has prepared me for the possibility of adopting one day. Some day. When I’m ready to be a parent. 

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What do you think contributes to being ready to be a good parent?

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