"So, when are you going to have kids?"
This is the question that newlyweds fear, loath, avoid, and discuss at length. Afterall, as all grade-school children know, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ...
My husband and I are relatively lucky, in this regard, since given our age (young) and status (middle-class) we're not expected to have kids soon. The issue is certainly on the table, of course, and I am finding that I am terrible confused about the whole thing.
On the one hand, I want children. I have wanted children as long as I can remember, and I want them quite strongly, the sooner the better. Certainly if I were to get pregnant, I would be overjoyed and would not even consider abortion. We are in a position where we could afford children (in no small part because Quebec has some of the best maternity-leave and childcare policies I have ever heard of - certainly enough to make my European cousins quite jealous). My parents are almost retired, and are not too far away and quite supportive. We're both in a position where we could deal with kids, psychologically and so forth. By most measures, we're ready.
On the other hand, by many of the "intellectual class" measures, we're not ready. My husband is still in (law) school, we're young (not even 25!), and - perhaps most importantly - I don't have a career. I have a job, but it is temporary in so many ways. I have not ruled out the possibility of going back to school (it was always assumed I would get a ph.d. -- so much so that my parents didn't attend my graduation because it was only undergrad). One does not have children without being properly settled in a career, right?
Generally, I feel comfortable with the idea that I would have kids first, and then work out my career. Despite the added difficulty of navigating things once one has children, I think that the time it would take me to get oriented after having kids would allow me the time I need to figure out exactly what my career might look like. Articles like those by Linda Hirschman, and follow-up articles like this, just add to my confusion. Where do I start? How do I, as a young women only entering the workforce and my child-bearing/rearing years, use these discussions to guide my choices? Although it is interesting to read impassioned arguments from people who have made their choices and are now defending where they stand, I don't feel like they offer me the kind of information I need to make the best choices possible. I don't want to "let down" feminism, but neither am I seeking to be a poster-child for a cause (or a sacrificial lamb!). I am not a 20-something who is afraid of children - if I thought it reasonable, I would have kids tomorrow. But I worry about the impact children will have on my future - what if my marriage doesn't work out (God forbid)? What if I put my husband through law school, have one or two kids, and then wind up a single mom with no career propects? Terrifying. What if I have kids and go crazy because I don't feel I have a career to bolster and affirm my identity apart from the oh-so-dependent person I am raising?
Yet it would make good sense to have kids now: physically, I'll never be better off. My body can heal easily and (relatively) quickly. Sleep deprivation is something I can work through more easily now than in 10 years. I have the energy. I am so uncertain when it comes to career that another few years of stalling would be ideal, and why not use those years to start a family? Most importantly, of course, I just want kids.
(For the sake of this discussion, it is reasonable to assume that my husband is flexible when it comes to having kids - he would perhaps wait a bit longer than I would want were it entirely up to him, but he is not opposed to starting a family in the next few years.)
Questions. Are there even answers? Or just best guesses?