Nina is on vacation this week. Her friend Alejandra Adán is our guest blogger. She lives in New York City and is the Co-Founder and Program Director of a dual-language preschool on the Upper West Side. Alejandra tackles the big question in today's post: Is there ever a right time to become a Mom?
This past Father's Day, my brother and I flew home to Puerto Rico to spend some quality time with our parents, especially my dad. We did a lot of the usual - watch movies, eat out, visit friends. This time around, I thought I'd change things up a little by staying out late gallivanting around Old San Juan with my (single, younger) brother... why not, right? You only live once. Staying out late is a thing of the past for me. I'm 34, married, and love nothing more than spending a quiet evening at home armed with a great flick, a glass (or two) of wine, my husband, and our dog Lupita. May sound boring to some, but for me it is heaven.
So, after a fun and lively dinner with friends and families, my brother and some friends headed out for the night. My parents looked concerned, unnaturally so, about their daughter staying out late, which seemed odd to me. I was given keys to the house BUT was told to call when I was ready to come home so that I could be picked up. I was shocked. Couldn't I just take a cab? "No," came the swift reply. "It's not safe to do that here." Um... WHAT?!? I grew up in Old San Juan, am over 30, and live in a rather sketchy part of Harlem. I like to think I can fend for myself.
I went ahead with my plans, feeling terribly guilty about having to wake my parents up in a matter of hours so that I could be picked up. In the end, my dad, who said he couldn't sleep anyway because he was worried, came to pick me up at 2 AM. I didn't think my parents' over-protectiveness would kick in again all of these years later, but there it was, rearing its ugly head and making me feel ridiculous and infantilized. On our way home (thank God it's a very short ride!), my dad explained that, as a parent, he can't help it; that he doesn't mind picking me up if it ensures my safety; that worrying goes hand in hand with parenting; that I would understand when it became my turn to sit in his place.
This, of course, is the question to end all questions in my life right now: when will it be time for me to sit in his place? I've been debating the issue of starting a family for while now; this conversation with my father brought it home, front and center.
I have wanted to be mother since I was 19 years old, when I (rather unexpectedly) landed a job as preschool teacher in Austin, Texas. I was enamored of my students - we developed an instant connection that was simultaneously rewarding, challenging, and engaging. From that first class, I learned how to be a caregiver; they taught me the importance of kindness, patience, and that unshakable zest for life that children bring to the table organically and share with the world willingly.
Since then, my winding life path has led me on a variety of journeys and experiences, all of them leading to the ultimate goal of marriage and children. Even though the light at the end of the tunnel always reflects the same dream of becoming a mother, I've put strict conditions and cement barriers in the way: find the right man, find a meaningful job I enjoy, finish my Master's, find the perfect house, wait until my husband finishes his doctorate, wait until my body is as healthy as it can be. My "To Do" list is keeps expanding, and for several years now it has gotten mixed up with my biological clock, all kinds of pressure from family and friends, and the biggest pressure point of all: the fact that I'm not getting any younger.
When is the right time to have (or adopt!) a baby? How many life lessons need to be learned before I become a parent? What am I waiting for, exactly? What kind of parent will I be? All whining aside (see above), I might end up being just like my parents, which would be just fine - my parents are amazing. But, that's another blog post.
Everyone says I will never be perfectly prepared to be a mother, that I'm as ready as I'll ever be, that it's time to take the plunge. Truth is, everyone's process is unique. We all value and prioritize different things; we have hopes, fears, and dreams that are our own responsibility, that we nurture, nurse, or discard as we move through life.
Truth is, maybe now is the time.