This weekend I had a childhood friend come and visit me. She congratulated me on finishing my degree and then remarked, “It’s like you’ve done things in reverse.” She’s referring to the fact that I got a man, got a job, got married, got a house, had kids and then got a degree. It got me thinking about Kirstie Alsopp who was bemoaned for suggesting women should got to university after they have kids. That’s not exactly right, what she did say was this, “I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying ‘Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.’”
I didn’t exactly do it that way either. What I do tell people is that when I first went to University at the age of 18 I did Engineering. I did it because I was good at science and people expected me to do a science subject. I didn’t want to be a doctor like most of my family across the pond because I am squeamish with blood, and I didn’t want to run a business like my brother and my dad. I actually just wanted to find a nice boyfriend, and it probably helped that the gender ratio in my class was about 50:1 so I inevitably fell in love with my lab partner and married him. I didn’t get the degree, I hated the course, but I did fall head over heels in love and I wanted nothing more than to settle down and have beautiful babies with him. And so we got married, bought a house and boom, I was a mum at the age of 28. I waited as long as I could, and having seen the broken hearts of around five childless women in my family, I knew that this was the right choice for me. I didn’t get a degree but I got a husband, which sounds very 1960’s, of course. The point is, my body was ready for having babies at that age and I was with the right man. I hated my job at the time, working in Pension Administration and I knew I wanted to go back to University but at the time it was right to have children. I didn’t want to run the risk of fertility issues by waiting for the perfect moment.
I felt a lot of silent criticism from women my age who were putting their careers first, over relationships, children, etc. If I had a penny for every time I heard a woman say, “I’m waiting for the perfect man/job/house before I have kids”, I’d be a rich woman today. There is no perfect man/job/house. I’m not saying how I did things was perfect, especially as we have suffered financially from my decisions. What I’m saying is that I did things in the way that was perfect for me, as an individual.
Finally, obtaining these big goals in life is a lot easier with support from a wonderful family. My husband has looked after my children, cooked meals, and been there for me every step of the way. My children, bless them, I will never forget them saying, “Don’y worry mummy, we’ll be good while you finish working on your assignments”.
I didn’t do things in reverse, as old blue eyes sang, “I did it my way…”.