Having Kids Young Wasn’t A Mistake

When I decided to have a baby on the heels of my college graduation, I wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. In fact, one of the questions I got quite frequently was whether or not my son was planned. Even though he was, I could still tell that many people viewed having a baby at 22 as a negative thing. I was going straight from college to being a stay-at-home mom. I was abandoning my potential. I was ruining my career path. I was making a huge mistake.

While having kids young wasn’t without its struggles, I can’t say it was a mistake. Not even close. If anything, it was the best thing that could have happened to me – and I don’t just mean that in a “my kids are my life now and nothing else matters” sort of way. My kids have made me more focused and more successful than I ever would have been if I had spent my twenties childless.

The truth is, as I approached my college graduation I was sort of aimless. I had majored in English writing, and though I was constantly prodding my professors for career paths, no one in my department faculty was able to give me a solid answer other than grant writing for nonprofits (which wasn’t exactly what I felt called to do). I guess the normal route would have been to lengthen my time in university, perhaps applying for an MFA program, or stretching my legs in the real world while waiting for a revelation to hit me.

But instead, I chose motherhood because there was a raw desire in me to nurture another life. Even if I couldn’t entirely explain why, I wanted a baby and no one could talk me out of it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but being a mother was definitely on the list so I took the plunge and got pregnant.

Six years later, I would make the same choice time and time again.

As soon as my son was born, I felt a drive for success that I had never known before in my life. While I had imagined early motherhood as a time to slowly explore my passions and keep dreams simmering on the backburner, what I found was an undying sense of urgency. I suddenly had this tiny person who would look to me for everything, from food to how to live his life. I was a role model in the most important way possible. The thought was overwhelming, scary and also ripe with opportunity.

I knew the kind of life I wanted for him – one full of success and passion and happiness and fulfillment. I also knew that in order to give him that life, I needed to be able to model success and passion and happiness and fulfillment in my own life. I knew that I needed to figure out what my dreams were, and that I needed to chase them relentlessly to show him the power of perseverance and dedication. I knew I needed to build a life that was balanced and full of joy, so he could see firsthand what true happiness looked like. These are things I never would have given much thought to if I wasn’t a mother. There would be no sense of purpose, or at least not one with such a lofty weight attached to it. Having kids young encouraged me to create and chase my goals. It forced me to think about how I wanted to mold my life – how I wanted to be remembered through the eyes of my children. I’m not saying that I would suggest having kids in your twenties. I understand why most people don’t want to have a baby at 22, and I’m certainly not looking to convert anyone. It’s likely not a great path for most people, even if it worked out well for me.

But I do think it’s worth saying that it’s not automatically a mistake or a career death sentence to have kids when you are young. There is nothing like having a baby to show you what your true priorities are, and I for one am glad I got that kick in the pants. It has made my life rich in a way I never could have imagined without experiencing motherhood, and if I could do it all over again, I know I wouldn’t change a thing.