Growing Up

Family Pictures, June 2009 (go here, for updated pictures of the whole family)

♥♥♥

Sometimes I feel so old.

I grew up at the end of a long line of siblings.  As such, my brothers & sisters have always been a decade or so ahead of me.

Just to put things in perspective, I’ve been an aunt since I was 7 years old.  I spent my childhood surrounded by the elderly.  Both sets of grandparents were in their 80’s, & there were strokes, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s on both sides of my family.  My mom is also at the tail end of a big family, so all of my aunts & uncle also have always been older than what might be considered the norm.  Add this to the fact that I’m not quite 30 & I’ve been married for 8 years & have four children.

Getting married & having children & taking those responsibilities seriously, is a sure-fire way to grow up.

I watch shows like “The Mindy Project” (which, I love Mindy Kaling, for the record) & others, where the characters are in their mid-thirties & are still dating around & dealing with things I feel like I left behind in high school, or at the very least, college.  I find it amusing, a bit baffling, since I feel so much older than these people, yet I’m younger than many of them.

Ashlae, of OhLadyCakes (one of my favorite blogs–the photography, writing, & recipes are always stellar), got me thinking with this post, this morning.  She shares some of her reservations about settling down (it “scares the $#!* out of [her]”), & how instead, she’d love to travel the world.

Oh boy, oh boy.

This got me thinking.   Before I got married, I had lists, detailed & lengthy, that laid out:  “What I’m going to do with my life.”  Marriage & family certainly were in there somewhere (I’m Mormon, after all), but I was going to travel!  Get my master’s degree.  Teach English to inner-city kids.  Save enough money to travel the world for a year.  Join the Peace Corps.  (I know, this is getting really cliche.)  But point is, I had other plans for my life, than what has actually transpired.

And you know what?

I’ve found that my desires & what I “am supposed to do” don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  You can have a family and follow your (other) dreams.  I’ve found the sacrifice of family life is what makes my other dreams worthwhile.

Motherhood ain’t easy.  (If you’re a mom, you already know this.)

Creating a family is not easy & it does require quite a bit of sacrifice.  But it’s not sacrifice just for the sake of sacrifice.  It’s sacrifice for something better.

One of the reasons why I love the show Parenthood (I’m only on season 3), is despite the hardness of family life, that show always brings home the message:  it’s all about family.  Yes, there are fights.  There are really, really challenging things, inconveniences & annoyances.  But in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters.  Those relationships.

I responded to Ashlae’s post with this comment:

 When I was in college I think your dream of traveling the world really resonated with me. I certainly hadn’t envisioned that I’d have a lot of children so young, but everything has unfolded in a beautiful, happy way for my husband & I. I think that “settling down” has become terribly stigmatized, as if it’s a prison sentence, but I’ve found it to be quite the contrary. I’ve never experienced, or rather never knew I’d experience the high-high’s (& with it the low-lows) as I have as a mother. It’s life–raw, real, & I love it. It challenges & pushes me like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

♥♥♥

What do you think?  Can a person “settle down” & still find happiness, pursue personal goals & pursuits?


Comments


  1. Rachelle Marsden
    on November 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm said:

    I appreciated this post very much. I am 28 and have four little ones and one angel baby and feel “so old” most of the time. I too am LDS, but didn’t grow up with LDS friends, so even just now I see a few of my friends having their first child and it seems so surreal to me. I hope to still do my share of traveling and such, but either way, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks again. 🙂

  2. Melanie @ Nutritious Eats
    on November 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm said:

    Great post Janae. I have to remind myself that even now with 3 kids and being in my mid 30s I can still chase my dreams. I often feel “too old” to start a new hobby or job. I have to keep reminding myself that there is no such thing as” too old” to learn something new or live out a dream that’s been on the “to do” list. It might not happen when I want it to happen, but it can happen.

  3. Anna-Lena
    on November 15, 2012 at 1:11 am said:

    Dear Janae, I feel just the same. I always knew that I wanted to be a mom, but I had other plans, too, like a carreer. But after meeting the man of my dreams at 18 and getting married a few weeks after I turned 21, all I wanted was to have a family and stay at home. I had a stay-at-home-mom and I really enjoyed that she was always there when I got home. so we had our first child at 23 and our second at 26 and I stay at home and my husband has a really good job and we live in a beautiful house. Now I’m 30 and all other mothers I know are getting back to their jobs while we are planning to have more children. I’m happy because that is the life I’ve dreamt of. But I often have the feeling, that I’m not normal because I’m satisfied with my life while others can’t imagine having more than the average 2 kids and staying at home.

  4. Lauren
    on November 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm said:

    I agree that “settling down” is very stigmatized now in our culture, which is really interesting if you think about how it almost came from the backlash of women fighting for a choice between having a career or fulfilling a more traditional role. It’s really disappointing to me that rather than coming to a conclusion that it is okay for anyone to do whichever career that they choose (and yes, I’m counting motherhood/fatherhood and “settling down” as a career) that there is still more value placed on one that is outside the home.

    I guess this stigma is also a product of the economic state of our country – not as many people can afford to have one parent solely be the caretaker of the home and kids. Additionally the individualistic culture of the US is starting to choke out the value that family has. We become so caught up in this “higher” value of achievement and money, that we lose sight of other important parts of life (if not more important parts).

    There was another reason I thought of but I forgot it now. But I completely relate to Char because I’m currently in grad school too for another 5ish years. By the time I finish, I’ll need to earn a lot to pay off my debt, so I’ll feel like I want to push having children of farther into life but then the fertility window sneaks up on you so quickly! I’m really glad you shared that quote from Parenthood, I love that show too. 🙂

    I hope one day that I am passionate about my career, but I desire above all else to have a family that is more of a priority than my salary and achievement.

  5. Melissa
    on November 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm said:

    On a related note: someone once said to me “I don’t know HOW you could have married so young! I’m only JUST NOW finding out who I am and what I believe, etc. I can’t imagine having to be a ‘we’ before I was a ‘me’!” And really, the more I thought about that, the more I realized that I am only this insanely awesome person BECAUSE of the amazing person I married. I learned so much from him — not the least of which was more self-worth and confidence — and I really cannot imagine the train wreck I would have been had he not been there as I found myself.
    It’s funny how some people believe that their individualness ceases to exist (or something) when they marry. Poor souls!

  6. Melissa
    on November 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm said:

    Your SIL, Tiffany, said something to me very profound once in relation to family-planning: “I wish we had traveled more first.” There is an immense pressure to start a family after you are married, and there is immense pressure to marry young. So, when she was pushing 30 years old, had been married ten years with no children, even though she and her husband were barely getting started in their careers they began to sacrifice time and money toward that goal.
    Living in Seattle helped give me some prospective on it. And I took Tiffany’s words to heart. Husband and I have taken trips we would never have done with children, and won’t be able to do again for a while after this first one finally arrives. (But that’s because we are living off his terrible public educator salary!)

    • Janae Wise
      on November 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm said:

      I have no regrets about not having traveled before having kids. I got to travel quite a bit in college, & I realized, once I got married that traveling is fun, but I don’t think it’s what life is all about. Of course, every couple is different, & has different circumstances & challenges to overcome, so I understand that having children, & having children soon after marriage isn’t the right choice for everyone.

      I am actually quite happy about the fact that we’ll be moving around for the next while with Joseph’s job. Seeing new places & sites, & I get to share that with my kids. I know some people may regret having kids young, but for me, for us, it was one of our smartest decisions. I’m glad I have the brunt of child bearing behind me, rather than ahead of me.

      (& I can’t say this enough, but I’m so happy for you to be starting your family now. You’ve got that beautiful expectant “glow”)

      • Melissa
        on November 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm said:

        I think life is all about experiences. And we all will have different ones. I had hoped that mine would include having children while I was younger so I could enjoy my later-in-life with just as much youth left in me. (When you are young, you are poor, no matter whether you have kids or not.) But the older I got, and the longer it took to have a child, the more I realized NOW was the time to take advantage of that. So, whether you have more children in your future or not, your oldest will be graduating HS before you will even be close to menopause… leaving a lot of potential for “you and hubby” travel time in the future.
        I’ll have to wait a bit longer though. haha
        I haven’t seen you in FOREVER! You’d be surprised to see my “little” bump now. 🙂

  7. Melanie
    on November 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm said:

    You know what? I’m going to write a blog post in response, because my comment is getting *way* too long. :-p I’ll post a link when I’m done!

  8. jacqueline | the hourglass files
    on November 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm said:

    Being married and currently following my dreams, I definitely will speak up to say that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I have no kids, so I can’t speak to that piece.

    For me, there is something about marriage that makes me feel like I can soar higher than I could if I was single. I have the support of my partner giving me a boost. And he’s there to catch me if I don’t reach my target. Sure, I can’t go after anything and everything, but that’s not the kind of person I am regardless. He helps me plot and plan to get where I want to go.

    As for “settling down,” I’ve never liked that term. I think one can be settled down without being married or having children. I think it’s all about attitude. And I will probably not settle down until I’m old and super wrinkly.

  9. Char @ www.charskitchen.ca
    on November 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm said:

    Ahhh this resonates with me so well, yet in a different way. I’m 25 now, and though I spent some of my early 20s in school, I did party a lot, travel, and date. I didn’t really give much thought to my future. I’m now at the point where I’m taking my education more seriously and trying to finish my degree.
    The one thing that’s getting to me is that I’ll be 27 by the time I’m done my degree. Add two years for a Master’s, and another 4 to 5 years for my PhD and I plan to be in school for another 7 years AFTER my degree! Realizing that it’s cutting into my fertility years, I’m trying to figure out when will be the best time to start a family, and possibly just go back for grad school after.
    I apologize if this is a ramble of thoughts, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. I don’t want one or the other. I want a career I love AND a family. It is tough trying to find a balance, but I bet it’ll all be worth it 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on November 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm said:

      Your comment on fertility actually reminded me of a line from Parenthood. One of the characters, a 40 year old woman goes into her OBGYN & says, in response to the doctor saying that they needed to run some tests to check out her fertility, she says: “Wait, but I thought that 40 was the new 30.” To which the doctor replies: “Not to your eggs, it’s not.” So true. I think you’re wise to keep in mind the time factor for fertility. Fertility treatments emotionally & financially take a toll, & aren’t always a guarantee. Whether we like it our not, our fertility doesn’t last forever, & won’t always wait for a career.

      “I don’t want one or the other. I want a career I love AND a family. It is tough trying to find a balance, but I bet it’ll all be worth it.”

      Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be one or the other! There are different times & seasons of a woman’s life, & I think we should relish the fact that so many opportunities are afforded us. I think a supportive partner in life, especially if you decide to have children, is one of a woman’s greatest assets. Joseph & I have worked together all these years creating a family & careers & both of us had to wait at different times while it seems the other one of us has gone ahead, professionally speaking. Right now, my attention is mostly undivided to raising my young kids, but I’m keeping my foot in the professional world a bit, & I know that the day will come when my kids no longer need me full-time & I’ll have the time/energy/resources to pursue more fully my personal pursuits.

      Thanks for your thoughts (they’re not rambles)–I know you’ll figure it out 🙂

      • Char @ www.charskitchen.ca
        on November 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm said:

        “Wait, but I thought that 40 was the new 30.” <— This totally made me laugh.

        Thank you for your thoughts, Janae! I agree, it definitely doesn't have to be one or the other. What you said about your kids growing up and not needing you full-time, I thought about that, too. That maybe that will be the time for me to go back to grad school. In the meantime, there is a lot of other great work I can do, as well as just enjoy being a mother 🙂 I'm glad you have someone as supportive as Joseph, and that you are both able to work together and compromise to build the lives you want. I see my relationship with Dallas the same way, which is really nice. I'm thankful to have a partner who wants the same things I do, and that we're both willing to support each other through it all. I know we'll figure it out 😀