There is no doubt in my mind that I had my children too young. It didn’t seem that way at the time, but I know better now. Just 21 years old when I had my first, I was naive and hopeful that everything would work itself out on its own accord.
Twelve years later, I am looking back with heartache and regret. I want better for my children, but the circumstances of life won’t allow for it. There is a price to pay for every course of action you take in life, including having children way before you are ready.
When I held my firstborn in my arms for the first time, I pictured a perfect happily ever after for him. I thought everything would fall into place like it does in the movies. He would have a magnificent childhood. One better than I had growing up. I continued to have the same fairy tale notion with each of my children’s subsequent births. Yet, here we are. Still waiting for the fruition of those fantasies to come true. Only, I realize by now that they won’t. Life just doesn’t work that way. I am being forced to accept that this below par life is all I will be able to give them.
Every single day is a struggle for us. Money is tighter than my pre-baby jeans, which won’t go on past my knees at this point. Sacrificing the fun things in life and constantly delegating the priority of basic amenities, like clothing, shoes, and household items, is not how I pictured raising my children. That’s the way it is for us, however. It breaks my heart to have to explain to my sweet-faced, innocent children that there isn’t enough money to have what other families have with ease. There’s only so much money to be earned when you failed to create a stable financial foundation before having children.
My children are missing out on so many life experiences as well. Experiences that are the epitome of childhood, some would say. They have never been to a toy store. Or a mall. They have never been shopping for new clothes at a retail outlet. Their clothes have always come from a secondhand thrift shop. There are no trips out to eat at restaurants, let alone the movies or the carnival. No arcades or theme park adventures. No camping or time at the beach. They have no idea what a vacation even is. These kids are trapped by the life I created for them, and I hate myself for it.
If only I had realized beforehand that life wouldn’t hand me the lemons with which to make the lemonade. Life doesn’t hand anyone anything, ever. If you don’t take it and make it yourself, you’re simply shit out of luck. Just like I am right now.
When I was growing up, I was always surrounded by extended family members and close family friends. I expected it would be the same way for my children. Unfortunately, when those same people don’t agree with the choices you have made in life, they won’t stick around and maintain relations. My children are burdens more than blessings in their eyes. For that, they will never know what it’s like to grow up and have a bunch of cousins to play tirelessly with, great-aunts who kiss their pinched cheeks, or grandparents who take them overnight, give them ice cream for dinner and teach them to play dimestore poker for Hershey Kisses way past their bedtime. They are missing out on valuable connections which will strengthen their ability to socialize and maintain relationships with others later on in life, all because I had them in the first place.
They are missing out on a sense of family unity that I cannot give them on my own. We don’t have anyone but ourselves to rely on–in good times or bad.
If I had only done things differently in my life, my children wouldn’t suffer the consequence of my mistakes today. It’s a hard truth to live with on my conscious. One I haven’t quite come to terms with. Many sleepless nights are spent crying over the life my children deserve to have that I am incapable of providing for them. I wonder if they will resent me one day when they realize all the things they missed out on because I couldn’t provide well enough. I ponder over all the things I should have done differently and how I could have done what has already been done to change the outcome of our life. There’s no turning back the hands of time, however. It is what it is. And it is not good enough for them.
If I had only known then what I know now. I was way too young to have my kids and should have made the choice to wait until I was ready. Left piecing together their lives right along with my own, I can only hope that one day they will understand. I wouldn’t trade ’em for the world, but I wish I could give the world to them much differently than I have been able to thus far. What mother wouldn’t want the best for her kids?