Why I’m Choosing My Career Over Motherhood … For Now
Words: L’Oreal Thompson Payton
This writer explains why she’s had a change of heart and five-year plan when it comes to having kids.
Back in college, I had my life planned out… or so I thought. Graduate and get a kick-ass magazine editor job and move to New York City at 20. Get married to the love of my life at 23. Have my first kid at 25, second kid at 27, and third kid at 29 so I could have all my kids before I turned 30 and be a “cool, hip mom.”
Well, I never got that hot-shot editor job in New York and I didn’t get married until 27. As soon as we said, “I do,” it seemed like everyone—from well meaning family members to co-workers—was inquiring as to the status of my uterus. Spoiler alert: it’s currently unoccupied and I plan to keep it that way for a little while longer.
Even though my husband and I originally discussed starting to “try” when I turn 30, I’ve had a change of heart. Back then, 30 seemed like a long way away. Now that it’s basically staring me in the face (I turn the big 3-0 next year), I’m essentially freaking the [bleep] out.
There’s so much we want to do just the two of us before we have kids—travel to Europe, vacation in Hawaii, buy a house—but there’d be so little time if we were to adhere to our original plan. Plus, there’s the whole matter of moving. We currently live in Chicago and want to be closer to family when we start our own family because that’s how we were raised and, quite frankly, the cost of living here is too dang high. So moving back East would require a) finding new jobs, b) saving for a home, and c) finding said home. All within a calendar year. Yeah, that’s not happening anytime soon.
There’s so much we want to do, just the two of us, before we have kids...
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t want it to happen soon. Recently, I had to have a heart-to-heart with my hubby and tell him I’m not ready. Simple as that. And then there are #CareerGoals I want to accomplish before I add “mom” to my list of titles.
It’s not just that I want to obtain a director-level position before we have kids—I want the higher salary that comes along with it so I can make more money when I’m on maternity leave. Did you know the United States is last among developed countries when it comes to paid maternity leave? (Psst... the only other country that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave is Papua New Guinea, according to a recent Forbes article.) And even if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that has paid maternity leave, it’s most likely only partial—unless you live in San Francisco, which became the first U.S. city to mandate fully paid maternity leave. Thus, the higher my salary, the more I’ll earn during maternity leave.
But there’s part of me that’s terrified of waiting too long to have kids. Everyone knows 35 is considered “advanced maternal age” and the older you get, the riskier the pregnancy could be. I don’t want to become so career-obsessed that I miss out on my prime baby-making years. And I don’t know if it’s more prevalent or people are just talking about it more, but infertility seems to be everywhere. What if I get to 35 and it’s too late?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the infertility rate is between 7-9% for women 15 to 34, 25% for women 35 to 39, and about 30% for women 40 to 44.
"In general, most women will conceive in the first year of trying," Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a LennyLetter.com article. "Eighty-five percent will conceive after 12 months of regular intercourse."
Well, that makes me feel better.
While my ovaries sometimes ache whenever I see babies on my newsfeed (four newborns this week alone!) and walking around the city, I know in my heart that I’m not ready to usher new life into this world … and that’s okay. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind (again) by the time I actually turn 30. But for the time being, I’m perfectly content lounging around in my yoga pants, binge-watching HGTV with my husband, and sipping vino. Diaper-changing and bottle-making can wait.
A Charm City girl in the Windy City, L'Oreal Thompson Payton is a media and marketing professional with a passion for people and a penchant for purple. When she's not busy blogging at LTintheCity.com or freelancing for various girl-powered publications, she can be found mentoring young women, reading ALL the books, dancing to Beyoncé and eating her way through Chicago with her husband, Jeff.
This article is part of our fulfilled series. Read more from women discussing what it means to them to feel fulfilled.