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For a long time, it’s been just us doing the family thing among our friends.

Whilst I often longed to have a friend or two who were at a similar stage in life, most of the time I have just been really bloody grateful that I’ve had the best of both worlds where my social life is concerned. I haven’t experienced that social drop-off when everyone starts having babies. My friends are mostly still in London, readily available for a good chat over dinner, and there is always something going on if I fancy a big night out.

Friends have remarked enviously that I don’t have to worry about being single in my twenties, with no hope of ever securing a deposit for a mortgage. I don’t have to worry that I’ll be 35 with no sign of a partner to make babies with. All those questions that plague our twenties and early thirties were answered for me a long time ago.

But I don’t need to spell out the huge drawbacks of starting an unplanned family in your early twenties. Life since then has been one big game of catch up, sprinting to keep up with a rolling ball of challenges – career, finance, living costs.

Now we are thirty and the engagement announcements and wedding invites are seriously piling up. Friends are buying proper family homes, and, most exciting of all, there are quite a few babies on the way.

Now our friends are catching up. And they are doing it better.

They are planning family life properly. Choosing where they want to live. A good location for settling down. An appropriate sized property. Calculated moves that need valuable time to execute. The proper way to do things.

Proudly displayed on the walls and in frames in their new houses will be the pictures of their travels and their weddings.

It is a weird thing, watching friends embark on this life-changing experience.

We all get moments of missing our ‘old’ life once you have kids. Now imagine knowing that you missed out on a substantial chunk of that life. When friends shake their heads and say “I can’t imagine having a baby back then”, I feel the opposite of angry, because it validates my feelings. It’s an acknowledgment of the challenges and major adjustments we’ve experienced.

Whilst I celebrate friends’ news with 100% excitement, separate to that, I know I have my own hang ups about my sudden plunge into parenthood that I’m honestly not sure I’ll ever fully process (*I love my children disclaimer*).

I don’t have much advice on maternity wear, antenatal exercise classes, or private scans. Questions that have Sam and me reflecting on a time when we were scared and counting every last penny. I didn’t have that surprise moment of realising someone was choosing to spend the rest of their life with me. I don’t know what it’s like to choose a dress that makes me feel special, to stand in front of everyone we hold dear and talk of new beginnings and adventures to come.

But I LOVE the weddings. And I can’t wait to meet the babies and get broody all over again. Being on the other side of things has made every wedding speech or pregnancy announcement that bit more special for me to watch. I didn’t experience all the adventures before, but I know the ones that lie ahead.

10 comments

  1. I’m a big believer in making our own path in life. I’m not sure that there is a right or wrong path or if one way is better than another but I do think we all have to go our own way. Sometimes that takes us in different directions or to the exact same place. Families are families either way x

    1. Yes, certainly none of my feelings reflect that our path or family is any less ‘valid’. I guess it’s mostly about acknowledging a time I feel I’ve missed out on, and a slight wondering if we might have avoided lots of our financial and emotional stress had we had that time. But at the same time, I’m also aware that I probably only have an appreciation for these things because of the path we took – I wouldn’t know any different or perhaps I would have taken it for granted had we started our family a little bit later than we did.

  2. I think that there is never a right time to settle down and start a family, that there isn’t a right way to do it that is somehow better – the later you start, the harder it is and the harder to let go of all of those years of single / childfree times and you are so much more tired

    Try and think of yourself as having thrust forward on a path, having a route that is not better but different and the fact that you’ll be in the wonderful post nappies, able to take your eye off them for a moment phase whilst they’re still in the terrible tantrums and bodily fluids bit

    1. I really do like certain benefits of having children earlier. I feel that I’ve had, in general, a lot of energy – despite the well known fact that my children are really rubbish sleepers. And I am happy about still being relatively young when they reach the more independent years. But the career (lack of) and financial side of things have been extremely stressful at times, we have racked up large amounts of debt and for a long while could not afford our living costs. There are definitely positives and I know there will be more good times to come, but I think it’s one of those things where when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to imagine it any other way. There is never any way that is ‘better’, but I would have liked to have had more financial security and a family house before we started a family.

  3. I like it when you write about this stuff. I started my family with an unplanned pregnancy at 24, now I’m 31 & a mum of 3. My friends are just about starting to have babies now. I’ve felt out of kilter with my peers for the last 7 years now, watching them achieve career success etc while I can’t earn enough to cover childcare…

    PS can you do a post on where you get your kids clothes? I love your boys outfits & now I have a baby boy to dress I have an excuse not to use all the clothes saved from my two girls!

    1. Thank you Anna! I’m trying to find the balance of writing more about it / not coming across as too moany. I’m not at all hung up bout it, but it is something that has had a big effect on my life in the past five years.

      Are you on instagram? I sometimes tag brands the boys are wearing on there. High street stuff is mostly from Zara and Next, and a few of my other favourite places to buy online I’ve mentioned here: https://sorry-about-the-mess.co.uk/2014/01/12/colourful-clothes-for-boys

  4. I can relate to this SO much Chloe. We did everything the ‘wrong’ way around, but like you, having the kids has never hindered my social life! I guess the only thing I’d change is that we caused ourselves a lot of stress at a time when we should have been really enjoying our babies (don’t renovate a shit tip of a house whilst 8 months pregnant and with a 14 month old). I feel that time was a blur, and I feel quite envious of friends now having their first babies. I also wish we’d gotten married before the kids, mainly for the cost and also planning a wedding with 2 preschoolers is a right ballache. I wonder if my feeling aboves are making me want that 3rd baby for the wrong reasons, to do it all again ‘properly’ *sigh*. Who knows- I’ll have to sit on it and think about it a bit more! x PS Loving your new blog layout, I’m still on the hunt for my dream one!

    1. We’d love to have a wedding/celebration one day, probably when the children are a bit older and I have more time (and hopefully money!) I think the biggest thing I wished we could change/have sorted before this point, is our house. It is smaller than most flats and by no means a family-sized home, it would have been REALLY nice to have been able to move before Arlo started primary school, as now we have a whole host of other factors to consider when we are eventually able to upsize. Added complications, but I guess not the end of the world!

  5. I relate to a lot of this post, I was pregnant at 27 and the first to conceive from my girlfriends, I do feel I was a little bit young in retrospect, not that I was that young really and not biologically speaking according to dr friends, I just think I could have been better prepared to some extent, a bit more mature to handle motherhood, but then are we ever that prepared anyway?! A really thought-provoking post. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts, please do add my badge or link back if you can, thanks x

    1. Emotionally I don’t think you can ever be totally prepared. It’s such a huge adjustment and there are so many factors. The financial side of things is easier to ‘prepare’ for.

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