When I was diagnosed diabetic, one of my parents’ concerns was if I’d get to have children.
As a young child, with a mum and dad who didn’t spend much time at home while they were growing up due to going to boarding schools, they didn’t have much of a social life outside of work. Few of their friends had children.
I did not feel a social pressure to have kids as a kid but it was a vague idea. I was absolutely certainly I didn’t want to be having kids when I was past 30 – at that age, I’d have had type 1 diabetes for 26 years and that didn’t seem a viable option.
I’d spent a great deal of time travelling round the country for work before I got to university. Many of the men I dated seemed to want to get married. Getting married wasn’t really an ambition either (I am coming up to my 25thth wedding anniversary this year). I’d dated and did feel quite sad when things ended, but it wasn’t love in those cases. My husband is the only man I’ve cared about enough to argue with.
The travelling (and dating) made me want my own home. I didn’t go on holidays or buy flash toys and cars. I bought my house as a singleton in 1998. It was near my family, as mum had promised to help if I had children – both my parents were still working when I had my son.
Of course, life happens around plans. My pregnancy was not the joyous experience we’d waited two years for: an ovarian cyst meant it was painful for the majority of the time. We’d also bought a house 8 weeks before our kid was born in another village. Whihc meant my savings were not going to cover a year – my savings were swallowed up in the move. My granddad also had a stroke.
So my folks went from looking after their grandchild for a day down to nothing. Indeed, we my grandfather died moved 45 miles, but 124 minutes journey away.
I was lucky, my childminder was able to pick up the extra day.
And here we are.
Yawn, so what? You’re a boomer…
No, I’m a gen Xer, I just happened to do the kid thing early. I did get sterilised when my son was 4. This shocked my friend, who ended up having three kids: the doctors agreed to that? Type 1 diabetic, I have had a child, I knew what I was asking for and, long term, it would have been much cheaper and less impact on my body. My husband wasn’t even there for the conversation though he did chat to the obstetrician on the phone.
If you are not diabetic, women do not seem to be allowed to do this, even if their partner feels the same way. This seems bizaare: pregnancy and childbirth are not trivial processes to go through.
Of course, my friends are not the only people not having children. The number of births last year per woman went down to 1.6 children in the UK. I was considered a little young at 27 when I was doing this long task, the majority of new mums are in their late thirties.
At least we’ve done our bit.
My son has no plans of having children, it’s so far off his radar as to be unviewable. House prices had trebled since I bought my house as a junior manager, and wages have not yet doubled. Doing this on his own is not an option.
Childcare costs have more than trebled in the time. Quid pro quo, only young adults with private income can hope to have a chance of having young while they are young.
Because their 60 year old parents are still working and likely to be for the next decade. Unless they are rich and actually, they are the people with the interesting jobs…
We’re so obsessed with older people “earning their keep”, the young are ending up not having jobs.
In the meantime, while interest rates have gone up, house prices haven’t deflated because if you have a job, you cannot afford to move.
The people having child tend to be in bigger, nicer houses, so are using flexi-time to perform their own child-care.
Being disabled, it wasn’t an option for me. I would have been doing two jobs badly. It was hardwork anyway, but I can see why many are delaying the start.
Oh yeah, what should we be doing then?
The minimum wage works here. A parent has enough to live on while the other can earn a bit more than they’d have staying at home.
More importantly, gran and gramps can take that dip in pay to help out. This is what happen for my folks when my brother and I were babes and for a few months, helped me and family.
That reduces the need for as much paid for childcare, which allows the prices to drop. This works.
It works at another level too. Life is difficult with young children if you work and don’t have a car. The costs of housing and childcare mean those having children benefit from having two cars, and best will in the world, a push bike with a kid larger than a baby is very hard work. This is a nightmare for the environment – I have never done as many miles as I did when my son was below 12 and we had full time jobs.