With no work, no email traffic, and the manuscript of my new book almost done, I spent a relaxed and joyful New Year’s Day with my wife and happy jumpy 1y 10mo old daughter, Mi-chan, at Gero Hot Springs in Japan.
In the night, I had a brief break from the non-stop “daddy, play with me” and soaked in the open-air bath tab alone. Looking at the dark silhouette of the Hida mountains, I indulged in random reflections.
Around the time when I turned 30, I started hearing my friends discussing “the best timing to have a child.”
Well, it is not a easy question, but I think I can give a clear answer now.
I got married at 28, but had Mi-chan 5 years later. I was a student when I got married. I graduated a year after, but my wife and I were busy on our work. Then we lived separately over the Pacific for two years. In retrospect, we did not have much control in the timing to have Mi-chan. I happened to be 33 when the happiest gift in my life was delivered to us.
I have a friend who is usually a specialist of overly-complicated puns but sometimes says profound wisdoms. He once said that, because you will die at a certain point of time in the future, if you have a child one year earlier you can spend a year longer with her/him.
One of my undergrad friends unexpectedly got his first child when he was 19. I sometimes envy him because if I had Mi-chan at 19 I would have been able to see her future 14 years beyond what I will be able to.
However, there are certainly some benefits of having a child late. When you become 30, you must have gone through several challenges and hardships. And you must have learned some philosophies of life.
Raising kids is a non-stop parade of happiness and anxiety. If I got Mi-chan in my 20s, I would have been mad or panicked more often than I am. Being 35, I can rather enjoy those subtle events and turn them into expectations of Mi-chan’s bright future. I have more room in my mind to accommodate joyful mischief of Mi-chan.
After all, there are benefits of having a child soon or late. You can never be too soon nor too late.
Of course, the increasing probability of Down syndrome is a valid concern, but probability is not certainty. These days it is not uncommon that women in 40s and even 50s give a birth to a healthy child. With the rapid progress of medical technologies, soon it will be possible to have a child in 60s and 70s, or even posthumously. It is not a bad idea to consult with your friends, but each has different family and career situations.
After all, the best timing to have a child is when you feel you want to have a child with the one you love.