Early in our marriage, Candice and I used to take long walks in our neighborhood to discuss the week ahead. Sometimes we talked about the future, but there was always a clear line between immediate tasks, like “get the oil changed in the car,” and future plans, like “get rich and build our dream home on five acres.”
One day in the middle of a walk, Candice said, “I want to have a baby.” I thought, in this particular instance, that she meant a hypothetical baby set somewhere in the future. So I agreed that it was a good idea. Then she clarified that she wanted a baby now.
At that point, I suspected she was just having an emotional flare-up. There was simply no logic in what she was saying. She knew the status of our bills; she knew we couldn’t afford to have a baby. Besides, we had only been married a little more than a year and still had a lot of exploring to do as new residents of Colorado.
I realized I had to play the role of crisis manager. I had to talk her back from the ledge and encourage her to abandon the dangerous leap she was contemplating. Reasoning from logic, I talked about our finances not adding up. I reminded her of the dramatic adjustments a baby would require to our social lives, our living arrangements, and our concept of free time.
She nodded her head a lot, but I didn’t seem to be getting through. My reasons weren’t working. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. But I knew I wasn’t ready to say yes. The impact of this decision just seemed too significant to be made during a casual walk around the neighborhood. I wasn’t against having kids—I just didn’t think this was the best time. I had to find a compromise. Knowing she wouldn’t accept no, I said, “Yes … but … let’s just wait a little longer. Let’s pay off some bills, squeeze in some more adventures. Why hurry? We still have plenty of time.”
I waited for her response. She seemed to be considering my counteroffer. As she nodded her head in consent, I knew I had done it—I got her to hit snooze on her biological clock.
That is, until we went on another walk—this time with an older couple that had mentored us when we were dating.
Hubert and Mary Morken are action people. They like their walks brisk and over rough terrain if it’s available. My breath ran short several times as we climbed hills and dodged rocks with this couple the age of our parents. A sign along the path we hiked read, “Beware of rattlesnakes,” but I was more afraid of the conversation taking place between the women in front of me. Mary and Candice were talking as intensely as we were hiking. I couldn’t hear everything they were saying, just an occasional word—fertility, baby and money—among them. I knew the issue of having kids was, once again, front and center.
(From the prologue of Start Your Family)