Category Archives: Parenting & Motherhood

Top Countries to Be a Mother? USA Ranks #31

As I approach the years when — if it’s going to happen — I will become a mother, I’m thinking a lot about what that means, logistically speaking. Growing up in America we’re taught to think that we live in the world’s greatest nation, or at least one at the top of the chain — powerful, successful, prosperous. But in terms of places where it’s best to be a mother (at least according to an annual Save the Children report) the US is dropping fast in rankings, from top 10 in 2000 to above 30 in 2014.

This report largely focuses on the health, educational, economic and political status of mothers. While the goal of the report is to remind us that there are many countries where being a mother is terribly grim, it isn’t looking so great for America either.

For a country that’s so gung-ho about making abortion illegal, and pundits noting that hell is freezing over (or something like that) now that women earning the majority of income for their families, you would think that at least our conservative nation would support the family values of making it possible to afford being a mother. Not so. In fact, the U.S. is the ONLY western country that doesn’t require paid maternity leave.

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Behind or Ahead, Does it Matter?

Seventeen or so ladies crammed together in a tiny San Francisco space drinking tea and crumpets, celebrating an upcoming birth. At the adorable baby shower I arrived late, and sat in the back with the older friends of my friend’s mother, who commented on how their group of daughter’s were not yet procreating despite being over 30. This woman was the first. They seem stunned when I noted many of my friends and acquaintances from back east were already on their second child.

I sat and ate my crumpets with organic jam, sipped my Darjeeling tea, and soothed a panic attack from claustrophobia and life-o-phobia with pastries and ice water. I texted my boyfriend: let’s have a baby, now, soon, I’m ready. I am ready. And I do want a kid. I really want to have kids. Continue reading

My Goal: $500k Networth Before Kids

I’m terrified of having children before some sort of financial stability. While $500k networth does not mean financial independence, I think I’ll start to relax a bit once I hit this major life goal (the others are 2 kids, 1 house, + $1M by 40 and $3.5M by 65 all while being able to travel and see the world on occasion.)

This chart assumes that each year I can make an average 5% off my existing networth (figure shown below = the networth at the beginning of the year.) I reduce my monthly savings in 2017, at age 33, assuming some of that money will be going towards my first child!

Year Age interest 401k invest Networth
2014 30 $12500 $17,500 $36,000 $250000
2015 31 $15,800 $17,500 $36,000 $316,000
2016 32 $19,265 $17,500 $36,000 $385,300
2017 33 $22,903 $17,500 $30,000 $458,065
2018 34 $26,423 $17,500 $30,000 $528,468
2019 35 $30,120 $17,500 $30,000 $602,392
2020 36 $34,001 $17,500 $30,000 $680,011
2021 37 $38,076 $17,500 $30,000 $761,512
2022 38 $42,354 $17,500 $30,000 $847,087
2023 39 $46,847 $17,500 $30,000 $936,942
2024 40 $51,564 $17,500 $30,000 $1,031,289

This chart offers the same savings plan but at a better rate of return: 10%. Here I reach my $1M goal early by 38. Continue reading

Maternity Leave at Startups: Does it Exist?

They call us job hoppers. The average tenure of a millennial employee is just 1.5 years to 3 years, according to various studies. If only there were opportunities to actually move up within our own organizations, we won’t be so tempted to hop. But there often is a great divide between opportunity in one’s current position versus the opportunity outside of it. Leaving becomes the only way to move up.

I’m very committed to my company, so committed that I’ve probably stayed longer than I should have given the opportunities that have presented themselves. I am just hungry for a new challenge, a new topic, a new game to win. I also have, in my deep reflective thought over the past few days, realized that at this point in my career I need to surround myself by positivity and growth, not stagnation or worse.

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Getting to Where I Want to Be, Part Who’s Counting Anyway

Returning from a romantic weekend with my s/o, I’m tingling with happiness and love. Here is, for the most part, the man of my dreams – kind, gentle, caring, funny, and willing to put up with my shenanigans as well. We spend too much time staring into each other’s eyes and talking about our plans for the future together: getting married in 2014, trying to start a family soon after, and so on.

That’s where I hit a wall. The story I like to dream of still seems impossible. I’m pushing along as hard as possible, setting my mental health issues to the side, trying to save as much as possible without a so-called frugal lifestyle, and here I am, almost at 30, and feel so terribly far behind. I look at my friends (and I know it’s a bad idea to compare oneself to anyone) and they seem somehow more ahead and settled then I’ll be in the next few years. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with images of too-cute babies, some who aren’t even babies anymore, some who have siblings to boot, and all created by people who are my age or younger. The younger sisters and brothers of people in my class are getting married off, some who are 5, 6, 7 years younger than me, are already popping buns out of their ovens.

Here I am, nearing the big 3-0, with no clear direction in my life other than this fantasy of adulthood that doesn’t seem real at all. A very irrational part of me wants to wake up one day a mother. She no longer cares about a big fancy wedding – in fact, she’s been with her s/0 for nearly 7 years and with that practically feels married anyway. Vows are not necessary to prove love. Many marriages end before the seven year anniversary of a couple meeting in real life, what’s to say those marriages are any more real than the one that we haven’t signed documents or been stuck with needles to verify? I’ve always thought marriage was a silly concept. Either you love someone and you’ll stay with them or you won’t, but having a binding legal contract to tie you to another person doesn’t make sense (unless divorce were to be illegal. Otherwise, the only winners are the lawyers.) Continue reading

Marry for Love or Money?

When I mention my boyfriend and likely future-husband-to-be is unemployed, my commenters frequently point out that I’m an idiot for dating him. “He’s pulling you down,” wrote Erin on a post I wrote over the weekend. Maybe I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by falling for him, but I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:

I never knew what I wanted in a relationship until I met *Derek (names changed to protect the innocent.) I had dated a few guys before off and on, but everything felt fake, like I had to be something I’m not to be with them. Derek was different. We met performing in a local community theater. He was shy yet extremely handsome. His smile melted my heart from day one. As I got to know Derek, I discovered he was perhaps the sweetest man on earth. He cared so much for others and lacked all selfishness which was so common in my family and in myself. He made me realize that no matter how much money I had or didn’t, I could always be happy just cuddling up to him and watching our favorite TV show. For better or worse, wealth started to matter less when I met him.

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Forget Marriage, She Wants a Baby… or Two… or Three

In 18 months, less than two years away, I’ll be turning 30. While 30 doesn’t feel old, it does send stabbing pangs into my head regarding my biological clock. With PCOS, it’s already ticking faster than most other women, and it may very well be too late to have my own children. Even though I don’t necessarily want to be a mom today, I don’t not want to be a mom ever.

Yes, there are plenty of ways, such as adoption, to have children if you cannot reproduce because you’re too old or infertile, but a tiny, fast-growing part of me wants my own kids. I guess ultimately I feel like the purpose of life — if you choose to believe in a purpose — is to reproduce. Not everyone can do it and it’s not good for everyone to do it because of overcrowding. If I really wanted to not be selfish (unless you ask my mother) I’d avoid childbearing and help reduce the taxing on the environment of yet another human being.

Forgetting logic, though, I really do want to be a mother. Still, I’m terrified for so many reasons…

  • Will I be a good mother?
  • Am I just attracted to the idea of children because I feel like life has no purpose?
  • Can someone like myself actually be a mom? I can barely mange myself!
  • Will I regret having children because I’m terrible at commitments and this is something that clearly you can’t go back on…???
  • What about money? How are you going to afford kids? Yes, you’ve managed to save up $180k in investments and savings, and have a stock package that has a small tiny chance of being worth enough to put you over the $1M networth mark by 40, but raising kids is extremely expensive, and with small houses costing $1.2M, can you really ever give your children the life you want to give them, instead of one that leads you to debt?
  • Wouldn’t you just be better off continuing to work throughout your life and saving money?

Then, I remind myself that there are plenty of people who make much less than I do, and heck, are probably less responsible than I am, who have a child, or a few of them. That’s not to say they should or that gives me a right to go off and reproduce, but it gives me courage that I’m probably not going to be the worst mother on earth. I already know that I have so much love to give and have been waiting my own life to have someone or someones to give that love to.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts online about mothers who regret having children. Most complain about having no time in their lives to do the things they enjoyed — travel, go to galleries, hang out with friends, read a book — and it so happens I don’t have the time for that now with my work schedule, so I can’t imagine I’d miss too much. I’m sure it would be extremely hard for the first few years of having children and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like, but at the very least I feel pretty confident that I’m tired of freedom in my life and want something to life for.

It doesn’t help matters that so many of my friends are posting photos of their adorable first or second children — just born — with big eyes staring out at the world, so innocent and pure. I feel so confused looking at these images — part jealously, part awe, part horrified of what that means. Life is going by so quickly — I return home to my family a few times a year and each time I’m there everyone looks like they’ve aged another decade. My father is ill with termial cancer, my mother is neurotic as always yet turning into an old woman, her skin finally wrinkling as she approaches 60. My cousins and aunts and uncles aren’t who I remember them to be anymore. My family has grown up without me — which is my fault, having made the choice to move away — but I’m ready for a family to grow up with me.

My boyfriend certainly wants children. Half the time all we talk about is our future together with our kids. Other than his inability to obtain a full time job for the entirety of his 20s, he’ll be an absolutely wonderful father. I know that he’s the one — sure he’s not perfect, but he’s loving, smart, and wise, as well as more idealistic than I’ll ever be. I could (somewhat) easily find someone who has a more settled life, but ultimately I’d be too scared to live up to that person’s expectations of a wife. With my bf, I know he loves me for who I am, with all my many imperfections. And I love him in return, and despite being freaked out by the financial story of our relationship, I will always be with him.

It could be worse. He could be in debt, or have terrible credit. The good news is that he’s very smart with money, with the exception of making it. He lives in a free-standing structure behind his grandparents house and doesn’t have to pay rent, just basic electricity and internet. He’s received help for his car and covers gas and food with a part-time job, for which he gets paid to little for his role and experience. But he isn’t in debt. His parents aren’t wealthy, but they’re extremely frugal, and when the time comes both of us theoretically will have an inheritance of some sort from both sides. Today, he doesn’t have savings or a retirement account, which is concerning. Then again, deep down I feel like I’m the one who has to be the breadwinner and I’ve put all my chips on this startup where I was an early employee and – though odds are I won’t get rich from it — where I may just be able to eek out some life security without being a slave to work throughout my children’s lives.

The trouble is — what if that fantasy doesn’t work out? What is my stock ends up being worthless? Yes, I’m still being wise with my saving to some extent (I could be saving more, I bought myself a nice TV last month for $500 and managed to spend another $500 on Amazon odds and ends) but until I hit $1M in the bank excluding housing I won’t feel like I can have children. That cushion would not ensure that I can stop working, but it would make me confident that I could have the life I’ve dreamed of, and to somewhat — as a spoiled middle class person — expected. My bf doesn’t require any of the finer things in life, he’d be happy living in a tent somewhere, but I’d like an average upper middle class life for my family, and one where I don’t need to work 60 hours a week to obtain it.

But how long do I wait until I feel like this life is a real possibility before having kids? I know it is going to be extremely hard for me to have children no matter when I do it, and with 1.5 years left until 30, I’m panicing a bit. I don’t need to have children the day I turn 30, but I can easily see 30 turning into 32 turning into 40. I know I have about two years left until all of my stock is vested, so I’m commited to my current life for at least that long, assuming the company keeps doing well and I keep liking my job. After that — if all is going well — I’m sure I’ll have great professional options where my salary could increase, but I’ll be confronted with the dilemma of deciding on leaving the professional world to have a child or staying and putting off children for another few years, and likely never having them.

Ideal world, 2015 rolls around, I’ve just turned 31, I’ve been married for a year, and I am ready to take a break from the professional world to have children. And at this time, I’ve also at least saved $300k – $400k, which isn’t enough to put me at ease, but is enough where I could maybe have a child and not feel so scared about commiting myself and my family to a life of living paycheck to paycheck, or worse.