When is the "right time" to start a family?

I’m 22 and in college. I graduate in a little over two years. I’m also desperate to be a mother.
Meanwhile, all my friends from 18-24 already have their husbands and their kids and their life all planned out.

I feel hopelessly like I am falling behind. There are nights I stay up late scrolling through social media, watching everyone else with their families and trying desperately not to let myself get sucked into the void in my heart where my children should be. I had to stop posting here because I became too attached to the idea of motherhood that it was weighing me down emotionally.

I’m not your typical woman. I didn’t date in high school. I’m uninterested now. I’m honestly uncertain if my [name_m]Prince[/name_m] Charming actually exists. But whether I adopt as a single woman or miraculously have my own - children for me are a must. A man I can live without, but I won’t give up the dream of motherhood.

So when is the right time? Am I falling behind at 22? Is having kids at 30 too old now?

Also, what are your thoughts on single adoption?

Honestly, I’m just needing some reassurance that my time will come. Did you ever feel this way?

I’ll be 22 too next month. [name_m]Just[/name_m] finished with uni, far away married and kids. And when I was (way) younger, I wanted to get married around this age… so of course I’m a bit desperate too. I’m clueless about my life at the moment.

We’re a bit similar actually. I didn’t date in high school too. Heck, I didn’t even like anyone. So I made two plans… 1) In case I get married (which won’t happen anytime soon. I just hope it’ll be around my mid 20s now), I’ll be happy with 2-4 biological kids or whatever number me and my future husband can agree on. 2) In case I’ll be forever alone, or assuming I’m alone until I’m in my 30s, I’ll adopt a kid or two. I also refuse to give up the dream of motherhood. :slight_smile:

You’re not alone. And no, you’re not hopelessly falling behind. 22 is (quite) young, you know. And we don’t know what will happen in the future. Maybe you’ll meet someone, maybe you’ll have your babies in few years. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t lose hope.

There’s no such thing as the right time, imo. The right time is when you feel ready. Either when you meet someone you want to spend the rest of your life and raise kids with or ready for the single adoption. Yes, we have biological clock, but having kids at 30 is perfectly okay.

I have felt this way my entire life. I met my fiance at 13 and had my son at 22. He was a sort of predictable oops, but it was right for us. I absolutely love where I am and who I have, but I have to say I think you should wait. It’s hard with the right person, and I frankly don’t think I could do it alone. You will find him. He’s out there and looking for you, and he’s just as anxious to start a family. I’m sure it won’t be as long as you think.

We truly are quite similar! Although, I rushed things along and have planned to start officially looking into adoption if I am still forever alone at 25. [name_f]My[/name_f] heart is so ready, I cannot stand to wait much longer!

Thank you for your kind words. I hope we both have little ones to call our own when it is finally our time. :slight_smile:

There is no optimal time of course, but I think for a planned pregnancy the absolute requirements are a) stability- you must be settled somewhere, not bouncing around from apartment to apartment or job to job with a rotating cast of characters coming through your life, and b) financial means to provide a life for the both of you. Obviously this is vastly easier with a partner. Stability is vastly easier with two parents living together-- no desperate scrambles for childcare.

As you are single and in college, I am sure you know that you do not have the means yet to stably provide for yourself and your child. Investigate day care options in your area and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, women in your situation become pregnant and make it work, but a single mother without a bachelor’s degree is consigning herself & her child to a lower middle class life at best. A struggle, always, unrelenting. Paycheck to paycheck. You have, in all likelihood, 18 years of fertility ahead of you. Invest in a career to stably provide for your child. This needn’t even be something that requires a bachelor’s degree; nursing and other healthcare careers will certainly do it, as would plumbing, electrical work, etc if you are so inclined.

I know in the South it is still common for people to marry young, but nationally the trend is rising year by year. On average women marry at 25, and men at 27, in the US. In the Northeast and [name_u]West[/name_u] Coast it’s 27 & 29. You have ages to find someone. Incidentally I don’t at all believe there is ‘the one’ out there, waiting for you. I think there are many people we run across in our lives with whom we could set up a partnership/marriage. Once the pieces of your life start to fall into place, you will run into more suitable potential partners.

Tbh-- my prejudices here-- I always feel a bit sorry for women who marry young and have children very young. They sacrifice a part of their lives they’ll never get back-- young, single adulthood, where a million formative experiences await them-- and once they have their kids, it’s like “now what?”

I would much, much rather have a baby at my age than a middle schooler.

Thank you for your insight! [name_m]Just[/name_m] to clarify, I do not have immediate plans to get pregnant or adopt. Not in the slightest. I must wait until my degree, then for a career, then for my house, etc. Mostly, I’m just struggling with how ready my heart feels vs. how not ready my life is.

I constantly try to tell myself that it is better that I am single and free right now. I still have many pieces of my puzzle to find, while many girls my age have half of their’s completed.

Somedays my emotions just get the better of me. Today is certainly one of them. It definitely doesn’t help that I work at a daycare and plan to teach elementary. When my life is so full of children, its hard not to yearn for my own.

It’s interesting how you think at 22 you’re “falling behind” your friends! I had my daughter a week shy of my 23rd birthday, and was only the 3rd of all my friends and acquaintances to have a child - the friends I’ve met through mommy and me are largely 3-20 years older than I am!

I always planned on children young (though not this young!) and I planned on kids at 25+ (I considered that young).

I also planned on adopting as a single mother, but that didn’t happen either. I agree with [name_m]Blade[/name_m]…there is no [name_m]Prince[/name_m] Charming out there for you, you meet someone you love and whom you share life goals and values with and you work very very hard at fostering that relationship with someone.

Being a single mom is a fine option, but be sure you first create a support network of family of friends who will help you in an emergency, and in day to day life.

I think you’re going to be fine. Being stable is really important for a baby. I have nothing against single mom’s or single adopting mom’s. I would use the guidelines for adoption in your state as a good judgment On When it’s right for you to have children since you want to adopt. As for the [name_m]Prince[/name_m] charming thing. I went by my Dad’s advice. He told me to marry my best friend. Husband and I were friends for a year and then we talked and decided to go on a few dates and 5 years passed just like that and we married and now have a little boy in the way. (:

Oh man, danger [name_m]Will[/name_m] [name_m]Robinson[/name_m]! [name_m]Danger[/name_m]!!

Volunteer in the 2 year old class. That will put a clamp on the ovaries, to be sure.

What [name_m]Blade[/name_m] said.

Or, volunteer to babysit a friend’s 2 to 3-year-old for a weekend by yourself.

I know a few single parents, and it seems like a relatively-unpleasant and difficult experience to try to parent long-term without a committed partner. Heck, it’s tough enough when you do have a committed partner.

[name_f]My[/name_f] sympathies are with you, but give yourself a few years before you really start to think about going there. In my [name_u]Baby[/name_u] & Me class with my youngest son, I am still one of the youngest parents at age 31. Almost everyone else is a first-timer and significantly older than me. I know it really varies by region, but these days it’s plenty early to start having kids when you’re 30.

I am a nanny in the summers. Last summer, I was a nanny for three boys (ages 9, 7, and 3). The parents wanted to go on a little vacation without the boys, so I stayed overnight with them for a couple of nights. The little one was really grumpy, complained of a backache, and had a lowgrade, so I gave him some Motrin. [name_m]Little[/name_m] did I know, the fun was yet to begin. :slight_smile: I put the little guy down early, and everything was fine for a little while, until he woke up at 1 in the morning screaming with a 102 fever. I did everything I could to bring down his fever, but the commotion woke up his brothers, and they started freaking out, so I texted the parents, and called my mom to make sure I was doing everything right. Anyways, things calmed down around 3 am and everyone went to sleep again… Until 6 am when [name_m]Little[/name_m] [name_m]Guy[/name_m] complained about his stomach hurting. He started crying and wanted to watch Mighty Machines so I stuck him on the couch with some water while I went to get towels to put on the floor incase he threw up. And, of course, while I was doing that, he started throwing up all over the (white) couch, so I grabbed him and we raced into the bathroom, all while he was throwing up on me. Again, the commotion woke up his brothers, and they came out into the living room. When they saw that [name_m]Little[/name_m] [name_m]Guy[/name_m] was sick, suddenly they didn’t feel well, and threw up all over the (white) carpet. :slight_smile: Then everyone was freaking out because they were covered in barf. Lots of tears and lots of Clorox wipes that day.

[name_m]Prior[/name_m] to this fun little sleepover, I thought, “Alright. I can handle a kid that comes before my ‘plan.’” Afterwards I was like THERE IS NO [name_m]WAY[/name_m] IN H***. You may think you “get it” from caring for kids all day, but at the end of the day, you get to hand them back to their parents. You don’t get to hand back your own kid when you get tired or you’re covered in barf. You don’t have to be up in the middle of the night caring for a sick baby. I can’t even imagine going through that if I had to wake up in the morning and go to my 8am O Chem class. Not to mention how much more manageable that may have been if I had an extra set of hands! Of course, it’s not like it happens every night, but it definitely is a lot harder when you have to take care of your baby 24/7.

[name_m]Don[/name_m]'t worry about your [name_m]Prince[/name_m] Charming. You find love when you least expect it. :slight_smile: [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t worry too much. It may not feel like it at the moment, but you still have plenty of time. Like a pp said, a baby needs stability. Your time will come. [name_m]Just[/name_m] live in the moment and don’t worry too much about the future.

Oh, but I work in the 2 year old class! [name_f]My[/name_f] assistant and I have 15 little hooligans. Call me crazy, but its only made it worse! I love those little crazy monsters. We have a good time. I cry when my oldest kids move up!

[name_f]My[/name_f] baby fever is tough to crack!

Thanks again to everyone’s replies!
I’m certainly not blind to the hardships and exhaustion of parenting. I definitely like handing my daycare kids over at the end of the day. But somedays I just wish I had my own little one to go home with.

I always need a reality check when I get really bogged down in all these motherhood emotions. I know my day will come soon enough, I’m just really impatient!

I think there is a lot of good advice here. I can’t imagine doing it alone though. I’m grateful for my husband and how we support each other in the care of our son. I’m in awe of men and women who do it alone. There is so much about parenthood that is kept hidden and quiet, that no one tells you about. It’s not just exhaustion, but the loss of your ability to make rational decisions pertaining to such a small life in the midst of that exhaustion, and the moments where you literally can’t process a thought because little ones are so busy and won’t leave you alone. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t get me wrong, I [name_u]LOVE[/name_u] being a mother, but without my husband I would be so much less effective and functional. I don’t know if everyone pushing 40 before they start families is the best thing either, but when you are really ready, really have a stable support system and life, you will know. Kids are great in theory, but overwhelming and all encompassing in reality. I’m 31 and pregnant with our second and (assuming everything goes well) last, married 11 years. I married “young” by today’s standards, but old according to previous generations. I haven’t regretted one moment of it. But we also waited to have children because I was ready for my husband but not ready for children. I don’t think people should just get married and start making babies. So many people don’t really know their spouse when they start procreating and it leads to heartache later on.

I know you long for babies, but enjoy right now. You do have lots of time. Have fun dating, when you meet the person you want children with, get to know them. Make sure you can work together to make a stable environment, then talk about kids. I’m so glad we waited. We had an amazing early marriage, there were no surprises with parenting when we decided to get pregnant, and motherhood has wonderful. But only because we made sure we were really prepared, not just giving in to instant gratification.

I’m not at that stage in life yet so no actual advice, sorry, but just to put things into perspective a little:

[name_f]My[/name_f] first thought was, wow, at 22!!! Of the women I know who married and had kids in the past 15-20 years or so (older generations married earlier, of course)… I could count on one hand the number who married before the age of 25. Probably at least half the mothers I know had their first after 30, and all but one or two after 25. (That’s obviously influenced a lot by social circle and community though.)

The average age for a first marriage in the USA is nearly 27 http://tinyurl.com/3fpopqw and 25 for a first birth http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm. So you’re not “falling behind” at all.

[name_f]Hope[/name_f] you figure things out and feel better about it soon. :slight_smile:

I am right there with you;)
I’m 24, recently married, but my grad program is in full swing and my husband is looking to embark on a change in career.

[name_u]Baby[/name_u] fever is hitting me hard. All of my husbands groomsmen ( and wives ) are expecting.
But the time is not right for us.

Here are my thoughts:

Firstly when I was feeling frustrated to the point of tears… I researched hormonal changes in women of childbearing years, I even spoke with a colleague who specializes in fertility. Some of this desire could be hormonal, not to mention that some of us are maternal from the moment our mothers handed us a doll.

Secondly, I have to remind myself do not use social media as a measuring stick as to where you should be in life. Things are never quite what they seem… And people have a way of showcasing the great and hiding the rest.

Enjoy today and where you are now.
Be intentional in your choices.

[name_f]My[/name_f] husband & I met online and dated with intent to marry … Within one month we knew we were meant to be.

I too never dated before him, I was picky and shy ( not a good combo).
Take one thing at a time, embrace the things that make you YOU.
You love kids… Look for someone that shares your same passion.

If singleton parenting is your choice, then take these next years to further yourself to become the kind of mom you’ll need to be.

Either way don’t compare yourself… If need be take a hiatus from Facebook ect…

I promise that you have plenty of time! It can be so difficult when you see your friends starting families and you feel like you are behind somehow, but you really are not at all at 22. I think one thing that might help is planning out what you want your life to ideally look like before you bring children into it. [name_f]Do[/name_f] you want to be a single mom, or would you prefer to have a partner? [name_f]Do[/name_f] you want to work or stay at home? You can start working towards some of these goals now.

Another thing that you can do if you really want to become a mom as soon as possible is look into becoming a foster mom. You can definitely do this as a single mom, in fact, the single adoptive moms that we personally know all brought their children home through foster care. The training and requirements can be pretty intense depending on your state. You do not have to commit to anything by signing up for training and everything should be covered by the state, cost-wise. You can start by doing respite care, where you would only have a baby for a weekend or so. Some foster parents just do respite care, others want to bring children into their homes potentially longer-term. It is not an easy thing to do, but nothing about motherhood is easy.

I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. It’s never easy when you feel like you’re “behind” where others are, and social media makes it that much easier to compare and contrast… but as others have said, you’re still very young at 22. Being married with a kid at that age is well below national averages. As [name_m]Blade[/name_m] said above, there is a lot of regional disparity. I’m 33, and half of my high school friends are just getting married now. Only a couple have children. We were by and large brought up by highly educated parents who encouraged us to finish our education, get careers in order, then have children. I’m not saying you need to wait 10 more years, but just that it’s not uncommon to be your age or much older without children.

It’s been said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” When I feel stressed about where I am compared to others, it can be overwhelming, but I try to turn off the computer and think about what is great about my life right now. Honestly,when I look back, I feel like there are times when I was so focused on where I wanted to be that I didn’t take time to enjoy what I had. Until you meet the right person and/or start the adoption process, take time to do what you enjoy, travel if possible, try new things, and make the most of your 20s in whatever way you can. You may find that you make friends who are at the same stage in life, or even meet your future husband, while you’re taking advantage of these opportunities.

I always wanted to be a mother but never considered the possibility of actually having a baby before 30. I got pregnant when i was 29 and I was one of the first of my friends, so I guess my experience with the whole thing is very different. 22 sounds young to me, and I really wouldn’t consider you to be falling behind at all! Honestly, there are times when I’m up all night with dd, or feeling exhausted and having to drag myself round the supermarket, or turning down another invitation because i can’t get a baby-sitter, when the only thing that keeps me going are the memories of all the awesome, wild times I had in my twenties! [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t wish that time away! :slight_smile:

As some who became a mother in her 30s who also got married in her 30s, I can tell you that you have plenty of time. Fertility in your 30’s isn’t the big scary thing that some make it out to be, and for most people, they have no trouble getting pregnant. In fact at 22, I’d consider you too young to get married and have kids honestly. In my circle everyone got married and had kids at the earliest in their late 20’s, like 26+. Now is a great time to get your life in order. Get work, school and finances in order, have fun and enjoy life.