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Aug 19 2014
Resisting pressure to "make something of yourself" before motherhood.

There are a number of reasons for the delay of childbearing on the part of women, who increasingly find themselves pursuing higher degrees, working full-time, and taking on leadership positions.

Babies don’t care if you just made partner, they arrive when they want to. Sick toddlers don’t care if you have an article due today, they need you to clean up their vomit or pick them up from daycare lest they infect everyone else. And back at the office, careers don’t wait for children. They move on without them. For a lot of women entering the workforce, that is a daunting prospect.

In a recent interview on the Today show, Julia Roberts reflected on her choice to slow down her acting when her children arrived. She reached a point in her career where backing away for a period of time wouldn’t really hurt her. She had made her mark and earned her right to stay home.

This philosophy on work and family has become increasingly prevalent in today’s culture, particularly among the educated middle and upper classes. Having kids is something we must wait for and earn. When a woman graduates from college we tell her, “Put your degree to good use, then get married and have kids.” When a couple ties the knot, we sniff around at their family plans, nervously hoping they won’t embark on the parental path too soon.

And women are heeding this advice: The average college graduate turns 30 before she has her first child, according to family life researchers at the University of Virginia.

Even in our Christian circles, we praise new life and fight for the unborn, but cringe when a 20-something has a baby before she could really make something of herself. We might not say it in so many words, but deep down many of us believe that a woman should earn her place as a mom and take advantage of all of the choices our culture has to offer her before she is held back by a baby.

There’s no denying the reality that children change our lives in dramatic ways, especially for mothers, who often are the ones to stay home to care for them. We’ve all been to the baby showers where mothers-to-be are jokingly warned about the upheaval that comes with each new addition. She’s told to forget sleep for the next several years. Her clothes are going fit funny for a little (or long) while, and she might as well stick to T-shirts and sweat pants, anyway, since the messy little bundles of joy will only get poop, pee, or spit-up on them.

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