“Oh, But You HAVE To…Get Married, Have a Baby, Have Two Babies, Buy a House”…The List of Life is Endless

“David and I aren’t going to have another kid. This pregnancy was really hard for me and honestly, the time off from work has been really straining for us. We are really happy with Ben and he is doing so well, but the idea of having another baby, ever, just seems too exhausting to even consider,” said the woman at the booth beside me in the restaurant.

“Oh but you have to have at least two children. Having one is just cruel!” said the woman to her friend at the table beside, to my shock. “Are you crazy?” she continued on, “having only one kid is suicide. That child will grow up so lonely and deprived, why would you do that to Ben?”

Her friend did not respond right away, as I leaned back further, so curious to hear what her response to this brutal attack was. Finally, she meekly replied, “No….yeah, I guess it is cruel to only have one….” She did not seem very sure of her response at all, but she did seem embarrassed. “It has just been really hard for us and you know, I miss work and Ben is a lot, but you are right, we absolutely are being selfish if we do not have another child.”

Her choice to seemingly only wants one child made her feel apologetic for her life choice and she was very quick to change her decision on bringing another life into the world. Does the choice to have another child weigh more on moral and intrinsic needs, versus what your petty, immature friend at dinner tells you what to do? 

Is this friend going to come over in the middle of the night when you two children refuse to go to bed and you have a deadline for work in the morning? I am pretty sure that this woman’s ‘advice’ was completely forgotten the moment she blurted those hateful, inconsiderate words out of her mouth.

Many people dole out life advice as though they are the reincarnation of Yoda themselves and it is exhausting. Unless they are the emulation of the perfect life on Earth, please do your very best to disregard every ounce of advice you receive from another person that does not fit your lifestyle ideals.  

Is it? Is it really cruel to only have one child if you know that timewise and financially you can only comfortably afford one, without zapping all of your own life plans completely out of orbit? Is it fair to that child and is it fair to you? 

Do not make the decision to do something so permanent so flippantly.

“Oh but you have to get married. What will people think if you don’t?!”

I am pretty sure the people judging me for not getting married would be the same people judging me on my wedding day for the dress I choose, the venue we select, and the wedding we throw. Do I really care what those people think of me? And if I do, isn’t that more worrisome that not getting married? 

“Oh but you have to have children! Who will take care of you when you are old otherwise?”

As I continually get older, I think it is pretty foolish that many people had children, banking on the hope that those very children will take care of them in their ripe old age. I have seen a hell of a lot of the exact opposite situations in real life. 

I have seen people who have sacrificed all of their time, money and energy for their children only to be left alone in their lonely old age, with not so much as a weekly phone call from those children who they were so sure were going to be there for them in the end. 

The only person we can truly expect anything from and a guarantee on return is from ourselves. Everyone else is conditional and expecting from others is setting yourself for huge potential disappointment, regret and sadness. Stop expecting others to be what you want them to be because they may wake up tomorrow with a completely different prerogative, one with no room for you and your needs at all. 

The other day, I was out for coffee with a friend of mine and we were chatting about children; she has two children and had them in her mid-twenties. “What made you decide to have children and have them so soon after marriage?” I asked, as poured some cream into my Americano. 

“Oh, I vividly remember getting off the pill,” she said, “It was my wedding day and I was getting ready for the day and all of my family was around me, my aunts, cousins, mother and friends. I reached into my bag to take my birth control pill when my mom asked me what I was doing. I silently just showed her the pill and her response was, ‘Oh, you don’t need to take that anymore,’ and that was it. I never took the pill again.”

I sat that, coffee midway to my lips, and clearly aghast asked, “That’s how you decided to start trying to have a family?” I inquired, mindful to not be (too) rude. “Yup,” said my friend, rather nonchalantly, “that was it.”

The pressures to do things for the sake of doing them is excessively damaging and dangerous. Having a child because your mother told you to stop taking birth control because you were now married and it is ‘appropriate’ to have a child shows me that you are completely not ready to have a child. 

It also makes me wonder what your intrinsic motivation will be when parenting that child gets hard. It is going to get hard, we all know that there are good days and bad days in any relationship, especially a relationship with an infant or young child who is completely reliant on you for every single iota of their life.

At a monthly brunch with girlfriends, a woman who I was just introduced to was explaining the reasons behind buying a house. “Well you see, I just got married,” she said, “so we have to buy a house before we can even consider starting to having children. We could not possibly live in our condo with a baby.” 

I looked at her carefully as the server dropped off a plate of eggs benedict in front of me. I wondered what the correct response to her statement was, but I realized that I had nothing nice to say at all. I simply smiled at her and started digging into my breakfast. Little did this woman know that there were many people at the table who were living in condos who were about to or had children. She would have probably been aghast to hear of it: children living in condos, the horror of it is really too much. 

Society sometimes creates these cookie-cutter visions of life and many of us feel that if we do not fit every mould and crevasse of said vision perfectly we are failing ourselves, our families and just losing in life in general. It is an exhausting way to live, but a lot of us live in said way; keeping up with the Jones’ is what we say, whether it kills us or not. 

What are you doing for external praise that is killing you? Whose praise do you value the most and why? 

Is it the snarky woman from your weekly yoga class? Why does shoving your new car in her face make you feel better? Why do you feel the need to brag about your new car to her in the first place? What is missing from your life that you need this type of validation?

These fleeting moments of joy we receive from one-upping others is not a healthy way to live life. It is a really difficult habit to master, but learning to live within your means and do what is right for you and your family is the only thing that will truly bring you inner solace and peace. Sure, you might not have the fanciest house, newest car, biggest job or an intimidating bank account balance, but if you can wake up in the morning and find three things to be grateful for, you are winning, I promise you, you are winning.