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Mom of the House: Being proud of our choices

In this week's column, Brianna looks at the changing family dynamic

It’s no secret that Canadians are waiting to have children.

According to Statistics Canada the average age women are becoming first time mothers is 29-years-old. In Canada the average family size is under two children, a big change from our grandparents generations when families often had four or more kids.

Millennials are typically prioritizing post-secondary education and career before they start their families. Houses and the cost of living are expensive, and it often takes two decent incomes to maintain the basics.

When I married my husband at 21-years-old I knew that I was ignoring the basic rules of marriage and motherhood in Canada. I was barely finished University, my husband still had one year left to complete his degree, and neither of us were earning even a half-decent income. We had no savings and no life plan, beyond the simple fact that we wanted to spend our lives with each other.

Looking back as a nearly 28-year-old mother of three, I have to shake my head at our foolishness.

I remember talking to my Grandparents, who were married at 16 and 18, and hearing stories about their tiny first apartment. They didn’t even have a bathroom, and would have to wait until their scheduled times to use their landlord’s bathroom downstairs.

My in-laws also married fairly young and lived in a bachelor pad in Toronto for their first year of marriage. They slept on their pull-out couch every night, not even having enough space for a bed.

I felt like we were going back to the good old days when I was first married. We had our tiny apartment with our tiny kitchen. We learned to live simply and frugally. All we wanted was to be together, and we had everything we needed in each other.

When we found out we were pregnant only four months after saying “I do”, we were completely ignorant to the way our lives would change. I remember realizing that once again we were ignoring the basic cultural norm of Canadian families.

We’ve continued to ignore the rules. I chose to stay home despite not really having the funds to do so. My husband chose a career path that will never earn enough to meet even our basic needs. We’ve always lived in houses and apartments that made us feel as though we are bursting at the seams, especially recently. We’ve continued to have children even when it would seem unwise to do so.

In the last year I have grown and matured a lot. I have looked at our lives and realized our lifestyle and decisions make a basic statement that we will do whatever we want, even if it looks stupid from the outside.

“Screw the system,” is what we have to say.

I’ve asked myself a lot of questions this year as I evaluate where we are in our lives.

Should I go back to work? I don’t even know what that would look like. I’ve never really worked before, having completed university and having children soon after.

Should we move to something bigger and more suitable for our five-person family? Our kids wouldn’t have to share a room. We wouldn’t be tripping over each other in the bathroom, and I wouldn’t be constantly purging and donating our stuff.

If we find ourselves earning more money what would we do with it? Travel. Buy a house. Buy a second car. Buy me some new clothes.

My biggest question has been one I haven’t even wanted to say out loud.

Did we make a mistake all those years ago, getting married and having children so young?

What would our lives look like if we were the average Canadian family, only choosing to have children now?

At 28-years-old, it’s time to face the result of the decisions we made as young and immature 21-year-olds.

Today I am living the reality of my ignorant choices. I’m a cook, a cleaner, a creative income earner to my crazy circus in our tiny and cramped home.

What was I thinking?

At the end of the day, there’s one simple and basic truth, and the answer to all of my questions: I am so completely and madly in love with my family.

I am so proud of those 21-year-old idiots who did what they wanted, and stuck to their own truth. I’m proud of my husband and I for choosing a life that we wanted, not one that was expected of us.

I’m proud of Daniel for choosing to become a Youth Pastor, despite the fact that people still assume he’s a part-time volunteer and have no idea how much blood and sweat he’s poured into the lives of young people. I’m proud of him for choosing his passion over travel, and a second car, and even a home.

I’m proud of myself for knowing that being a working mom isn’t for me. I’m proud of myself for having three beautiful babies and not worrying that my body will never be the same, that my bank account will always be empty and my home and heart forever full.

I’m proud of us as a couple for growing. For choosing couples counselling when we needed it. For talking in the middle of the night about our hopes and dreams for the future. I’m proud of us that we never really gave a crap about appearances. I’m proud of us for doing our own thing and being confident in our choices.

I’m proud of us for knowing that despite the unspoken rules of the western world, there is always a choice.

And I am so proud of our choices.