Being a “Grown Up”

When we were home for the holidays, I had a conversation with my mom about jobs, kids, and home buying – you know, the “adult” stuff you’re supposed to have and do in your 30s. She made a comment that has been nagging at me, especially lately, and I want to try to unpack that while also talking about things we’ve been discussing lately.

Mom and I were talking about our plans for having kids, and I was explaining to her that one of the things I’m constantly turning over in my head is what we’ll give up if we make that decision. Mom said something along the lines of that we’d had time to pursue our interests or our hobbies, but that maybe now it was time to set aside some of the fun things and be grown ups. This wasn’t her exact wording, and it makes her response sound much more judgmental than it was. Regardless, it brings me to what I want to talk about: being grown ups.

We’ve decided to wait another year before buying a house. There are a variety of reasons for this: we’d like to have more money in the bank so that we can put down a substantial down payment and avoid PMI. While I like my new job a lot, we’re still not sold on being in Ann Arbor for the long term, especially not after this interminable winter. Home values aren’t appreciating, which makes buying a house seem like a less than ideal investment. And besides, while we complain about our rental, we’re not on the hook when the water heater breaks or the roof leaks or the driveway needs to be redone.

Similarly, we’re not rushing into having kids. Despite my lifelong ambition to be a mom, the reality is very different than the fantasy. There are certainly many rewards to having children, but right now we’re considering the things we can measure. My career is very important to me, and Shane is really busy with work, mopeds, beer, and whatever hobby will come up next. As a result, our days are very full – and that’s before adding in running, gardening, cooking, travel, or friends – and we appreciate a good night’s sleep. Having a baby would dramatically change all of that. Kids are tremendously expensive in both the short and long term, and that’s if everyone is healthy. Ultimately, the decision to have kids is a huge, lifelong one – there’s no foreclosure proceedings or bankruptcy in this area of your life.

So what’s been bugging me about my mom’s comment is that while I can see that we have selfish reasons for not buying or birthing right now – they are also good reasons. We are making the choice to not have a baby right now – or perhaps ever – because we’ve thought about it and talked about it and come to the conclusion that this is not something we want right now. We aren’t buying a house – even though it’s a buyer’s market – because it is the right decision based on a variety of personal and financial factors. I would argue that making these decisions makes us, in fact, MORE grown up than if we haphazardly embraced her view that these things are what you do when you are married and in your 30s. Which is absolutely not to say that making different decisions than we have is wrong – just that these are our choices based on who and where we are in our lives.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

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0 thoughts on “Being a “Grown Up”

  1. I think it’s hard for people slightly older than us, because they followed the rules to the T. They bought the house, had the kids, served society (in many, many ways). And now the progeny are supposed to do “grown up” things like buy houses and have kids and follow the rules as well. Except that many of us are bucking that and doing seemingly selfish things like set up our lives for maximum enjoyment.

    Our generation sees things differently, I think – maybe it’s “selfish” but maybe we’re just not willing to buy into the system so much.

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. George and I have decided not to have kids, but the decision wasn’t hard – neither of us are interested in replicating. Everyone around us seems to think that’s BS and eventually we’ll change our minds and pop some out. We won’t. And maybe in 5 years or so we’ll have people saying it’s time for us to be grown ups too…

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  2. This is just my humble opinion, but I don’t think not wanting to have a child or not wanting to have a child at a certain moment in time is ever, ever selfish.
    And having children does not make you a grown-up any more than owning a plane makes you a pilot. You and Shane are already grown ups with lots of grown up responsibilities and plans and if you have children they would be an addition to that already grown up life. I think you guys are planning for that accordingly.
    I know you already know this, I guess, I’m just saying “yes, I agree,” in a long-winded way.

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  3. I agree, our parents grew up in a different time with different expectations. The sad part is most of the people my parents age are now getting divorced and going out to live the lives they wished they would have had in their early 20’s and 30’s.
    Even though I was an only child and my Mother put a lot of pressure on me to have children, I always knew I wouldn’t. My Mom thought I would grow out of that phase when I told her at sixteen that I was going to be a fashion designer and live in Paris and not have children. Well, the Paris part never happened (or the fashion designer for that matter), but I always knew I didn’t want to have children. Now that I am in my late-ish 30’s I think she is finally starting to believe me. She has two grand dogs!
    I agree that it is more selfish to have children when you can’t afford to give them the best life, or worse you are not ready for them.

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  4. i think it’s great that you’re not committing to a house or a child without being ready because you feel you have to or should. i think it’s the moment that you stand up and say, “it’s not quite for me… not yet, or not ever” that makes you the grown up, not the other way around.

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  5. I just had to comment on this post as the topic you are writing about is recently on my mind too: namely, parents’/society’s pressure on young adults to do what they think we ‘should’ do. Often despite the fact that it often didn’t work out so well for them when they were our age!

    For Mark and I it’s not only the pressure re: kids but also about getting married. I think slowly the assumption that people have to do certain things (marriage, house, kids, usually in that order) is changing, at least according to some studies: http://www.childlessbychoiceproject.com/Childless_by_choice_book.html

    Also, for you or your readers who are interested, there is a group called No Kidding!, an international social club for adult couples and singles who have never had children. I’ve never been, but apparently there’s a growing number of childless by choice adults who join groups like this – often they host social events or gatherings, etc. http://www.nokidding.net/

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  6. I totally get where you are coming from! My sister has no desire to ever have kids ever. I think it’s great to just enjoy life and each other, you haven’t even been married a year. I had so much fun just living life and doing whatever we pleased when we lived in California. It’s a scary life changing decision even with the financial aspect in place. You do give up a lot of yourself once you have a house and kids. I miss not getting a full nights sleep every night and not having to be so responsible all the time. St. Patty’s day is always bittersweet to me now, because it reminds me of another time and place in my life that I won’t ever get back. But I wouldn’t trade my new life for the world, it’s a new fun. And no one else’s child will ever make you fully realize just how amazing it is. If you ever do get the itch, you’d be the most amazing momma ever, I can just see you making baby food in the kitchen now. And I promise, you do find time for yourself, your hobbies and your friends, at least the ones that are important, you just have to work harder at it.

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  7. Well I think you’re way more responsible for thinking all of those things through. Too many people jump into these big life decisions, and they wind up unhappy because they weren’t prepared. Good for you (but secretly I hope you have a kid someday because he/she would have no choice but to be brilliant and gorgeous).

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  8. I think having a genetic kid, especially in a world with so many kids who have no home is a really selfish thing to do. I don’t mean that judgily, I just mean it’s inherently for YOU, which is the definition of selfish. I think raising a kid by choice is as selfish as any other “hobby” or thing you choose to spend your time doing. You do it because you’re interested in it, not because it’s helping anyone else.

    I don’t think having an enjoyable life without kids is any more or less selfish.

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  9. With regard to No Kidding!, there used to be a pretty active Detroit area group that has fallen off the last couple years. We had dinners out, curling events, stitch and bitch, wine tasting, haunted house trips at Halloween, etc. Lots of fun. It would be awesome if it got started back up again.

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