There are 11 girls in my friend group. Four of them are mothers, and another is currently expecting after struggling with infertility for years. All of my friends are 28 to 38 years old, and the majority became moms after age 30. So are Millennials really popping out fewer babies? The answer lies in why so many Millennials are waiting to have children in the first place.
I’m turning 29 this month, and I’ve married twice.
In the past year, I landed my first full-time job in my field. I still rent a one-bedroom apartment. Had someone asked me where I thought I’d be at almost-30 years old, my answer would have mentioned being a mother. In reality though, becoming a mother scares me so much that I’m not even sure that I want to have children.
The trajectory of my life has taken a different path from what we consider “normal.”
My mom died from breast cancer when I was 26. My father, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 2019, lives with me and keeps my schedule so busy that you’d think I was a soccer mom. Dealing with my family’s medical conditions has delayed my progress in my own life. And the more I feel disconnected from who I am and who I want to be, the less enticing becoming a mother sounds. I’ve already put my life on the back burner out of necessity, so why consciously decide to never make myself a priority before I’ve accomplished any of the things I want to?
I think a lot of the blame for the lack of Millennial moms, though, stems from the way that 90’s children grew up. As a child, I remember my parents telling me that when I grew up, I could be anything I wanted. In reality, though, I graduated from college during a recession and took a $12 an hour job outside my field. I lived rent-free in my parents’ attic, suffocated under student loans for a useless degree, and searched for love on Bumble, where polite greetings were swapped for unsolicited dick pics.
We have become a generation of adults bogged down by our inability to function on our own.
If we can’t make enough money to move out of our parents’ houses, then how can we afford to raise children? If we go to college to jump-start our careers, only for companies to offer unpaid internships, then we want to climb the corporate ladder, not change dirty diapers. As children, adults promised us that it’d be easy to obtain the life we wanted, but I live with $60,000 worth of student debt on top of debt from the credit cards I need simply to survive. I can’t afford to take care of myself most days, let alone any offspring.
That’s not to say that I don’t want kids someday. Also, I don’t place blame for my life’s trajectory on anyone but myself. My choice, though, is to not have children yet.
Before I have children, I want to be selfish.
I want to travel and be successful. I want to make a name for myself, even if it’s just for my own satisfaction. And of course, I want to pay off my student loans. Children bring immense love to a person’s life, and my friends’ children make me smile like crazy when we’re together. Still, I know that it’s just not my time for motherhood yet.
I know that my life will still have meaning after I have children, but right now, I want to be so much more than just a mom. I want to be a writer, an artist, a voice that our generation so desperately needs. At the end of the day, I want to feel fulfilled. At this stage in my life, I don’t find worth in having my belly expand with a baby.I find my worth in pursuing the dreams that I’ve continually worked for and not stopping until I earn them.
So why are Millennials popping out fewer babies? Because we’re still working to be enough for ourselves, let alone enough for someone else.