Is having a child the end of living your professional and personal, non familial dreams? I can safely say that my current lifestyle on my present income would be a financial impossibility after children.
I am twenty seven years old and I have spent the last six years of my life living out my wildest dreams; from being paid to perform to traveling the world to living in New York City. All of it has been made possible, or at the very least significantly simpler by one thing, no children.
While I may be reaching the child bearing age, or well into it, depending on who you ask, I have no plans to start the baby making process any time soon. I can’t even fathom being responsible for another being at this point in my life. Seriously, I was dog sitting for a friend last year and stressed out the whole time. I hated having to plan my day around getting back to the apartment just to walk the damn dog again.
I don’t think it’s a maturity issue, it’s more that I find these young adult years of my life to be a unique opportunity. The chance to be selfish with my time, money, and resources. It’s a chance that may not come around again until I’m a retired, empty nester, and quite frankly, I’m not willing to put all my hopes on that chance 30 to 40 years down the line. After all, I’ve got my health NOW, I’ve got time NOW, I may not have a ton of money now, but when you’re just worrying about yourself, you can sacrifice a lot of comforts to make things more affordable creating significantly more opportunities.
For example, I can couchsurf while traveling, live in a tiny NYC apartment with a ton of roommates, and employ a whole host of cost cutting strategies on everything from my day to day to extraordinary adventures because the only comfort and safety level I have to consider is my own.
Even my mom who got married relatively young at age 24 didn’t have her first child until she was 32 (and that was over thirty years ago). She and my dad traveled Europe for 100 days, road tripping and camping out instead. They also went to Egypt to visit the pyramids. Then they went on Safari in Kenya. Throughout that time they launched major careers in big time companies. THEN they had five children.
I guess I’ve always been of the same mindset. I’ve got lots to do before having any babies. Not just because I’ve got some pretty wild personal dreams, but because I honestly can’t afford them. I don’t have the time or the money to have a baby. Or rather, I don’t have the desire to prioritize baby making and raising a child in the immediate future. And the last thing I want is to get pregnant now and put all the dreams I never got to pursue or follow on my child.
Just to clarify, I don’t think you can’t have independent dreams after childbirth, but they instantly become a secondary or tertiary priority, particularly when resources like time and money are limited. I’m not ready to be that selfless.
Ironically, I think having a baby at this point in my life would also be incredibly selfish. Having a dependent on my limited income would put me below the poverty line (even outside of NYC) and able to collect on all kinds of public assistance. Even if I chose not to collect from Uncle Sam, I’d have to get some fiscal support from somewhere, parents, friends, family; at least while I figured my shit out. Considering all that burden, having a baby now is probably more selfish than following my own dreams.
Now I’m not blissfully unaware of the realities of biology. I understand that time is of the essence when considering fetal and maternal health, but pre-thirty is just too pre-mature for me. I’m also not so naïve to think that everything will align perfectly in my future creating the perfect conditions for bringing life into the world, specifically my world. But not having a financial plan for such an occasion is the definition of irresponsible. I am more willing to accept not being married, not even having a partner, or a whole host of other possible realities before I am willing to consider having a child without a sound financial plan.
So is the pursuit of my personal and professional dreams first and foremost selfish? Maybe. But certainly not any more selfish than having a baby before I’m ready, financially or emotionally, and putting undue burden on myself, the government, my family, and most importantly, my future child.
About The Author
Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.