It’s a question we hear often. We ask ourselves. We ask our friends. People tell us when we “should” feel ready and when we “aren’t”.
Women who plan their pregnancies often do so because they believe they ARE ready. They’ve ticked everything off the list.
Stable relationship? Check.
Finances in order? Check.
Work / education in order? Check.
Home and family and time in order? Check.
You will read countless articles about how to know when you’re ready. What you should have in place before you decide to become a parent. And all those things are sensible. Because having them all in order makes life easier when you’re a parent. It’s not complicated by money or relationship or family worries. You have less to stress about. So you think you’ve got it under control.
Then baby comes, and reality hits.
The thing is. NOBODY is EVER ready for the changes that parenthood brings. So much is different. Responsibilities are different. Feelings are different – about ourselves, our families, our relationships, the world. Time is different. Logistics are different. Money is different. Clothes and hair and days and nights are different.
And so often, for all the plans you’ve made, even with all your boxes ticked on the list – it’s still different for everybody. It’s still a shock or a surprise when you realise how things are not what they used to be.
Some people cope with these changes well. They roll with it, go with the flow, do what needs to be done, sort out what needs sorting. And accept that life is not the same.
So – ARE YOU READY – is the wrong question. There is no magical age or stage in life at which you will be ready to be a good parent, suddenly and without upheaval.
There is no such thing as ready.
The RIGHT question is this: Are you WILLING?
Are you willing to go with those changes?
Are you willing to sacrifice what needs to go, in order to give your child a good life?
Are you willing to throw yourself into it completely?
Are you willing to learn?
Are you willing to struggle and make mistakes?
Are you willing to not always feel like you have all the answers?
Are you willing to say HELP ME – I don’t know what I’m doing?
Are you willing to keep going, no matter how hard it gets, because parents don’t get to give up?
Are you willing to accept that life is now different?
Being WILLING is what makes a successful parent. It is a decision. A choice.
Not a switch that miraculously gets flicked on at a certain age or bank balance.
So if you, as a young mother, say “I wasn’t ready” – and think that’s an excuse for not doing the job… it’s not.
This applies to parents of ANY age. Having the “READY” boxes checked does not equal willingness.
You can make the choice at any time to be willing. Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, you can STILL decide if you are going to take on the job, and do it well.
You can make the choice NOT to be willing. That’s the decision you make when or before you become pregnant.
Not having all those checkboxes ticked before you become a parent will make it more complicated. But it does not mean that you can’t do it. It doesn’t mean that millions of others haven’t done it before you. It’s not an excuse for not doing the job.
If you’re NOT willing to make those changes – OWN that decision. Say – I understand what this is going to take – and I don’t want to.
That is fine. Make another choice. Choose not to get pregnant, choose abortion or adoption.
But don’t think that it was out of your control.
I am willing. I’m hardly ready. But I will do what I must, because I choose to.
This might sound scary. Like it’s a lot of pressure on you. Because we all ask “Can I do this?” and the answer is simply, as it always is – “It’s up to you”
Instead of feeling scared, feel brave. There’s no magic bullet that will make you a good parent. There is only YOU.
It’s the good news & the bad news:
The bad news: it’s all up to you
The good news: it’s all up to to you
And you CAN. If you’re willing.