I’m not even sure how to start this topic, so I’m just going to jump right in. Last night, while we were lying together on our living room’s beige carpet after a long day’s work, I asked Junwen, “Do you think we’ll EVER have a kid?”
“That’s a pretty deep question to come out of the blue. What were you thinking about when you asked that?”
I thought a moment. “Well, we were talking about computers…and I thought about my laptop, and how I’ve had it since my Iceland trip…which made me think how thankful I am that my job lets me travel around the world to see awesome places, and I was also reminded of the Singaporeans I saw in Iceland…and that made me think about the fact that Singaporeans travel the world a LOT, so I wondered where they got the money to do that, is it because they don’t pay for their children’s education? Which made me think about kids, and the fact that we still have tons of student loans and just finished school and still don’t have “the urge” to procreate even though we both crossed 30, and the fact that many others our age also don’t have kids (though many others do)…Sorry that was quite a random walk…”
“Well, ANYTHING is possible.”
But now I was in my self-analyzing mode. “I think that it’s similar to what I talked to you about before…about how I worked SO HARD throughout high school, college, and then went straight to grad school, only to have finished it all a year ago…And that during that period (well, during my LIFE), I didn’t really “let loose”, like go out drinking with friends, or HAVE friends…Or just do things that normal people do…It feels like that all built up and now that I’m finally done with school, I want to do all those things…Meet up with my girlies for a drink on a Friday night (Sidenote: I NEVER got into dolling myself up to go out, I am an athletic shorts and t-shirt type of girl, so where is this coming from?!?!)…travel…etc…
“Plus, although we’ve been married for almost four years, it hasn’t been easy, we’ve been through a lot, and it’d be nice to just enjoy being happily married with some sense of security for a little while. And we only just got jobs that are paying us real money, and can start trying to tackle those student loans…Once we have a kid, we can’t be throwing over $1000/month at the loans anymore. But it will take years to pay them off!”
After I had gotten my thoughts out, Junwen agreed. “Yes, our first years of marriage were tough. Tough on you…” I wasn’t 100% sure what he meant by that, but instead of verifying I just sidled up to him.
“It’s true, a lot of my friends back in Singapore—and a lot of yours back in Wisconsin—already have several kids. In fact, I just had a long conversation with a friend who told me I should start having kids. But then, there are a lot of friends here who don’t have kids yet, or friends who are older than us who are just starting. I think we just have to live our own story, and not be worried about living someone else’s.”
Wise words. I think I had always expected to live my parents’ story, to some extent…I thought I’d go to the same college they did…I thought I’d get married right after graduation…I wanted to have three to five kids (my parents had four)…So far none of those expectations have come to pass. So, regarding kids, I think it is somewhat of an inner battle between my “early life expectations” and my current situation. Los Angeles is nothing like Sheboygan. The culture is as different as if I had moved abroad…And being far from parents adds a spin to things. Both of my sets of grandparents lived only ten minutes away, and their homes were as much our playground as our own backyard. Junwen actually lived with his grandparents for the first ten years of his life, and remained very close to them even after the family moved into their own apartment.
But we just have to live our own story.
Which also means not worrying about what “other people back home” might think. When having kids is someone’s ultimate life goal, or even just the natural progression in how his/her life is unfolding, it may seem that a 30-year-old couple that doesn’t have kids yet just…doesn’t like kids. But this is so far from the truth. I’ve absolutely loved being involved in various children’s programs all throughout my life. I’ve had plenty of opportunity, since my mom focused her education on sociology, child development, and has always worked with kids. When my sister was pregnant, I almost starting crying when I felt her tummy and the little one moving inside…When that little one came into the world, I found my protective nature truly awakened, and felt that I would do anything to protect that little girl with all of the deep love that was bursting forth from my heart.
But we just have to live our own story.
Each of us has a different calling in life. Some are called to be young mothers, and can therefore care for and bless not only their children but other young mothers who are naturally brought into their circle of influence. Others are called to higher education, and can therefore influence and bless people who would not otherwise enter their social spheres. Yet others may have the task of balancing both! The same view is extrapolated to working mothers, who are sometimes shamed for “not raising their own children”. We all have to live our own story, and working mothers have opportunities to influence and bless lives that they otherwise could not. In each story we are given people to love, to care for, to bring joy and comfort to…This may be your own child, or a co-worker who just needs a friend.
There’s so many more thoughts I have on the topic—specifically on how it relates to us—but let’s keep it concise. Maybe it will be fodder for future posts! So to close…I want to encourage us all and remind myself to avoid comparing my story with others’, or even with the plot I expected to unfold in my life. As Junwen said, we all have our own story to live, and all we need to do is take care of what (and those) we are currently given.