This One Realization Made Me Ready For Motherhood

As soon as I introduced my now husband to my family, we were asked questions like “When is the wedding?” The reception hadn’t even ended before the next line of questioning set in with “When are you going to have babies?” Standing there in my bespoke champagne dress, I realized that the questions were never going to end. The lines of questioning would simply evolve. Shortly thereafter, I began asking a question of my own: “When does a woman feel prepared to become a mother?”

By Freda Donnelly5 min read
Pexels/Gustavo Fring

Being uncertain of one’s parental readiness can be a factor that delays women from becoming mothers. As women, not only do we have to compete with our biological clock, but we also have to listen to an inner monologue that can relentlessly spin tales that make us feel unworthy or unable to raise a child. Initially, some of it can stem from not feeling like an “adult.” 

After asking many individuals whom I respect and admire, it turns out many women never have that milestone lightbulb moment of “feeling ready.” Societal expectations simply require us to act, despite not having it all figured out. This is particularly true when you recognize the wisdom in the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s song “But Daddy I Love Him” when she sings, “Growing up precocious sometimes means not growing up at all.” After all, it’s hard to feel like we could raise a child when we still feel like a child ourselves.

Why Women Struggle To Feel Ready

Being a mother is a significant life-long responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If we’re not yet parents we’ve never had this level of responsibility before. This untested challenge is one that cannot be understood until it is experienced, causing trepidation and a whole other level of stress when considering taking on the challenge of being responsible for another person’s well-being, both physical and emotional. Resources can pose another stressor causing would-be moms to delay motherhood. 2022 statistics from Brookings Institute, a Washington D.C. economic think tank, show that the average middle-income family with two children will spend $310,605 to raise a child born in 2015 up to age 17 in 2032. This is a jump from the figure posed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2017 which estimated the overall cost to be $233,610. 

Why is there such a fluctuation? The truth that many frequently misconstrue is that these statistics offer the median of what parents choose to spend. There are a plethora of goodies and gadgets that are intended to benefit mothers and babies alike, ones that are convenient but not a necessity. The belief that certain material goods and idealized resources are required certainly play on women’s emotions in a myriad of ways. It is natural that we want the best for our future children, but the desire to keep up socially with both our real life and aspirational peer groups can make us feel inferior. Yet, it need not delay us making the best of our current situation.

Balancing Babies and Boardrooms

Professional ambitions can also delay this era of our life. While we certainly should align our actions with our priorities, it’s important to recognize that some accomplishments are only available within a key timeframe. As a matriarch in my family is fond of saying, “You can do it all, just not all at once.” 

I myself, as well as several of my friends, previously believed that I had to crush the corporate world with a certain degree of elegance before I would be able to have babies and hire a great nanny. After all, this decision works for many families; I’d seen it firsthand working as a nanny. Yet, before I even graduated, my maternal desire reached a fever pitch. I was married before I matriculated, and I couldn’t wait to expand my family, especially after becoming an aunt. 

My friend Samantha shared some wisdom with me that really helped put this matter into perspective. She said, “The joy of children eclipses everything else, and every year you wait is a year that you lose with them.” Samantha, known as Pro-Life Sam on socials, is a woman I deeply respect both personally and professionally, as she is a Social Media Consultant for Live Action. This was a powerful reminder that our choices should reflect our deepest desires and aspirations, empowering us to craft a life that brings us fulfillment and joy.

Always an Aunt, Not Yet a Mom

When my sister-in-law welcomed her second child, my husband and I went to visit and help out. Altogether there were three couples there that weekend as my in-laws temporarily shared a house, my husband and I were both the oldest and the only ones without children. We recognized that although there were valid considerations that needed to be accounted for, these would be true regardless of when we chose to have children. There was nothing that necessarily made any of the couples around that breakfast table more or less ready for parenthood than the other. 

Although there were valid considerations that needed to be accounted for, these would be true regardless of when we chose to have children.

Though my husband and I had the same realization, we didn’t speak of it until the morning after we’d arrived home. We hadn’t expected anything to change, but when we woke up the next morning, my husband and I both felt a restless desire to fill an emptiness in our lives. The stillness of that emptiness bore down on us, a heavy weight we could not dispel. I went off birth control that next month.

Unfading Wisdom

In order to become the kind of women that we aspire to be, it’s helpful to have a circle of esteemed female connections. Throughout this journey, I have turned to mine for insight into the question “When did you know that you were ready to become a mother?”

My best friend’s mom, Sherry, told me, “Never, really. I never felt ready for parenthood, but together with my husband I just jumped in. I was older, almost 29 when we got married. After three years of marriage, we decided it was time. We wanted to have kids before we were much older so we would have energy for raising them. Sometimes we just bumbled along and did our best.” She raised four incredible children while being a missionary with her husband and now works as a Bible translator. If she could manage to do all of that, and for my bestie to be the formidable woman she is today while having a mother who felt like she was never really ready, the rest of us surely stand a chance. 

Being in my pre-motherhood era, I’ve been devouring whatever could shed more light on my situation. So, naturally, I read Hannah’s Children as soon as it was released in March 2024. However, I didn’t expect to become a collaborator with its author, Catherine Ruth Pakaluk. Recently, I asked her that same question, and her answer was not dissimilar: “Actually, I don’t think I ever did feel ready before he came. I loved my husband, and I trusted that our marriage was strong and that God would provide if we were blessed with children. I do remember feeling not ready many times! When my baby was born, I fell in love with him and I knew that nothing could come between me and my determination to be the best mom I could be. And so I think that moment of falling in love with my baby, that’s when I knew I was ready.” 

Catherine has been a mother for nearly 25 years and is now a grandmother. This lovely woman continued on her lineage despite not feeling ready prior to holding her precious little one. There are volumes that we can learn from both the sage wisdom given in her answer and her book. 

Girl Gang Guidance

I also turned to my experienced girl gang to see where they fell along the preparation pathway. Here are the sentiments that Evie Magazine writer Evie Solheim shared: “I’ve always loved babies, and did a lot of nannying, but it felt very scary to make the leap to having my own baby completely dependent on me for everything. But the timing felt right to jump right into having a baby after we got married (Margot was born about two months after our first wedding anniversary). Sure, we enjoyed our leisurely weekends before kids, but we both always knew that would be a relatively short season because we were ready for the next step. We just knew there was something else we were supposed to be doing, and that something was Margot!” 

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway speaks not only to Evie’s strength of character but the power of maternal instinct. As women, we have the strength and poise to tackle challenges, even those that may seem daunting. When it comes to motherhood, we’ll even get the prize of a precious child. 

Courtesy of Evie Solheim
Courtesy of Evie Solheim

My friend Samantha shared even more about this. She said, “I think about this often because it almost became my biggest regret. I thought I wasn’t ready for children until I had everything: a nice house, a good car, savings, a specific position at my job. My husband and I waited for years. My first child was actually born on our seventh year anniversary! The moment I was pregnant, I realized that I really would have been ‘ready’ years ago, and I felt a sadness knowing that I had lived all of these years without my children. But God has a way of redeeming our brokenness. The timing brought these particular children into my life, so I wouldn’t change a thing. But I do share a piece of advice with younger couples: If you’re in a stable, loving marriage and can meet a child’s basic needs, don’t delay for material comforts.” Samantha's heartfelt reflection demonstrates that the immeasurable joy of parenthood transcends any material possession.

Motherhood Musings

Another one of my friends, Abbey Kaiser, is a mother of a lovely tween daughter, and yet she told me flat-out when I asked her that “No one is ever ready, whether they think they are or not. I’m still not ready.” 

She’s not alone by any means. When I asked one of my favorite foodie bloggers, Courtney O’Dell, she similarly stated, “My kids are 12 and 13, and I’m still waiting to feel like I’m ‘ready.’ I don’t think being a parent is ever something you can plan for and really have everything together for. I definitely never feel set, and I’ve been at this parenting gig for almost a decade and a half!” 

Preparedness is not a destination, but a continual process of growth and adaptation.

Coffee connoisseur Kassy Lansdown, a mother to adult children, had this to say: “I don’t think anyone ever knows 100% that they are ready to be a parent. There’s always something that gets in the way of being ‘ready.’ I knew I wanted to be a mom my whole life. I just put it into God’s hands that when He knew I was ready it would happen.” 

Each of these women, despite the varying lengths of their motherhood journeys, share the common bond of embracing the joy of motherhood, undeterred by their initial feelings of unreadiness.

Closing Thoughts

Through the diverse experiences and heartfelt reflections of the women in my life, I discovered that preparedness is not a destination, but a continual process of growth and adaptation. We should take heart in knowing that if we wish to enter into the illuminating relationship of motherhood, we don’t have to have all the right answers to obtain a beautiful result. The questions will keep changing along with the narrative of our lives, yet we’ll keep finding poignant answers amidst our day to day existence. 

In the wise words of Evie Magazine’s founder, Brittany Martinez, when I asked her what the best parenting advice she has been given is, “You can have it all, but not at once. I think it’s a good realization. I try to soak in every moment with them and treasure it because I know it won’t be forever.” 

Readiness is not a prerequisite for the profound joy of parenthood, so enjoy the season that you’re in and know that it will soon change. 

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