Karen wonders: What advice would you give a couple on the best time (is there such a thing??) to start a family?
Oh, hahaha - one thing I've learned about family planning is that I don't know jack. What works for me in these areas will almost certainly not work for you - and vice versa.
Before I got further, I want to set the record straight on something that I've experienced an awful lot of this past couple of months. When people hear how many kids I have, comparisons are inevitably drawn and people make me out to be some kind of saint. Some holier than thou Michelle Duggar, who never loses patience and does everything perfectly. The speakers then end up cutting themselves down - I don't know how you do it - I can barely handle the one I have.
These conversations make me SO uncomfortable. I realize that it's fashionable to put your self down, to make less of yourself in order to avoid braggadocio - but it just makes me feel so uncomfortable that I often just want to walk straight out of the conversation and never return. I do what works for me, for my family - just as you do. After all, none of us would claim that we did the absolute worst and never expend any effort - right? There are great moms of one kid and absolutely crappy moms of eight or more.
Phew. Off my soapbox and back to your question.
The right time to start a family is when you decide. That's it. It's not when you've been married two years/ten years/have saved $10,000/own your own home/get a promotion at work/etc. Those are all great and powerful things that can make your day to day living easier - but some of the happiest families I've ever seen are completely unplanned - either a pregnancy came at an unplanned time, an adoption that has been long prayed for suddenly come to fruition, or a family member needs a new home.
If you wait for the "right" time, it is never the right time. Plug your nose and jump in; the water may be cold, but the more you move, the more comfortable the water becomes - and soon you can't imagine your life in any other way.