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Hardly anything polarizes people more than the topic of whether or not to have children.
When the topic is brought up, both sides immediately get defensive. They feel like the other side is trying to attack and convince them that they’re wrong.
It’s an instant argument.
The thing with this topic though, is that it’s not meant to be a public conversation.
The decision to start a family (or not) is a deeply personal choice that ends in unique outcomes for different people.
And if someone chooses something different, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong for choosing the opposite.
We often forget that.
So you want kids, but are you READY for them?
There was a time when Matt and I wondered if we wanted to have children at all.
For awhile, it wasn’t a matter of when. It was a matter of IF.
The reasons for our uncertainty were many and complicated, and I found myself often in the middle of the polarized debate between wanting to have kids or not.
At least I was there mentally and emotionally, if not verbally.
And then, with time, we both agreed that having a family was something we saw in our future.
The decision whether or not to have kids is the first big hurdle for many people.
But once you make the decision to have kids someday, there’s another question that looms:
“Are you ready to start a family?”
To me, that question means: Are you ready to start a family right now?
And more specifically: Is now the right time?
Once we agreed that yes, we did want to have children in the future, the question turned to: when?
Not Ready Yet
Neither of us felt ready.
Whenever we were asked about when we might start having kids, we’d say, “3 to 5 years.”
Each year that passed, our answer stayed the same: “3 to 5 years, probably.”
We both hoped that as time passed, we might start to feel ready.
Pretty soon, my birthday rolled around and I turned 29.
How did that happen when I feel 23 inside?
I know that age doesn’t hold the same “ticking biological clock” like it did in decades past, and 29 is not old.
But suddenly, our 3-5 year plan was starting to feel a little time-pressured.
We still didn’t feel ready.
So how would we know when we were ready?
Sometimes “Ready” doesn’t exist
I can’t speak for everyone, and I don’t pretend to.
Some people feel unequivocally READY to start a family.
I’ve heard some people say, “Once you are ready, you’ll know.”
That wasn’t true for me. For us.
Time passed, and nothing changed inside. I continued to not feel ready.
I eventually realized that I fall into the camp of people for whom this quote rings true: “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting forever.” [I’m unsure of the source for this quote.]
That quote is true for many things for me: big dreams, business ideas, and here too – taking the leap into parenthood.
For me, this is the truth:
I never felt 100% “ready” to have kids before we made the decision to try for a baby.
I never had the sure knowledge that NOW is the right time for us to start a family.
Those concrete, firm statements of “I’m ready now” just weren’t true for me.
If you feel torn between wanting to start a family but you don’t feel ready, you are not alone.
Ready Just Might Be A Myth
For some people, me included, “ being ready” is a myth.
If I had waited until I felt 100% “ready,” I don’t think I would have ever had a baby.
How do you feel ready for something you know nothing about, have no experience with, and that will change your life forever?
If you’re like me and deal with change reluctantly and slowly, this is especially true.
For me, feeling “ready” did not ever come.
If “Ready” Doesn’t Come, Then What?
So what am I saying? That people should have kids even though they’re not ready?
I am a firm believer in responsible family planning.
I believe that people should not take the decision to have children lightly.
Sometimes, people are very clearly and obviously not ready to have kids, and their lives are not set up in a way that would allow a child to thrive.
I think people should wait to have a baby in those situations.
I also think that there are a million other good and legitimate reasons why people would decide to wait or not have kids at all.
Whether you start a family or not is one of the most personal and private decisions you’ll ever make, and I think it should stay that way.
But what I am talking about here are people like me. People who know in their hearts that they want to be parents someday, and see children in their long-term future. But the problem is, they don’t ever feel ready.
Years pass, and they still don’t feel ready.
Prayer and Surrender
For me, I realized that I wouldn’t get to the point of being even close to ready on my own.
If I waited for “ready”, I’d be waiting forever and I’d miss my chance at being a mother.
I also realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to let go of control over my life on my own.
Change is not my favorite thing, and I knew I needed help in order to enter into this brand new, terrifying next phase of my life.
So I asked God for help.
Surrendering my future and my family plans to God was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.
I read a blog post written by Nancy Ray about a year ago, and in it, she wrote about her journey to getting pregnant, echoing much of what I felt in my heart. I cried when I read her post.
It was so comforting and reassuring to hear someone else share the same feelings I had about motherhood. It was also terrifying to see her pregnant at the time of her writing, knowing that I might be in the same place soon if I chose to fully surrender.
But in my heart, I knew I wanted my life to include motherhood, and I knew that I couldn’t do this on my own.
So I began to pray about my feelings toward motherhood and my lack of feeling ready.
I prayed for God to help me surrender my future and our family plans to Him.
With those prayers, my heart began to change.
Moving Forward Without Being Ready
After a time of prayer and conversation between Matt and I, both of our views on parenthood and the timing of our future family began to change.
Neither of us felt completely “ready,” but we were feeling more ready than we had ever felt in the 8 years prior.
So together, we decided to start trying to have a family.
We trusted that God would help us feel ready whenever He made us parents.
We also knew that many people struggle with infertility, so we were trying to surrender all of that into His divine timing too.
Things happened quickly for us though, and soon, we found out we were expecting.
Excited and Ready aren’t the same thing
As I type this, I’m almost 16 weeks pregnant with our first baby.
We were both completely shocked when things happened so fast.
Neither of us were or even are 100% ready.
But thankfully, excited and ready are two very different things.
We are both very excited for this baby, and for our new upcoming role as parents.
And we are trusting God to make both of us fully ready.
– – – – –
The decision of whether or not to have children is one of the biggest decisions people make in their lifetime. It’s also one of the most polarizing topics in modern society.
It’s a topic filled with judgement, emotion, sadness, struggle and even anger for many people, and it’s a deeply personal decision at its core.
However, If you’ve decided that you do want to have a family, a whole new question remains: Am I ready to have kids?
For some people, like me, the answer to that question never becomes a resounding YES. Sometimes, if you wait until you feel fully ready, you’ll never take the leap.
In our case, we leapt and trusted that God would make us ready by the time our baby arrived.
And I can say with assurance that as my baby grows and my belly expands, I can feel my heart and my mind growing more and more ready every single day.
*Edited to add: in the time since I wrote this post, our baby has been born and is the light of our lives. God paved the way for our hearts to welcome Raleigh in, and life has never been sweeter.