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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: celticblue on September 18, 2016, 06:44:48 PM

Title: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: celticblue on September 18, 2016, 06:44:48 PM
I have been working on FI for a long time. My main reason was to achieve personal freedom. I recently reached FI. As it approached I developed a plan to have children (via necessary surrogacy). This would require 2 more years of work starting now. Then after that instead of freedom I would have intensive single parenting until they reach adulthood. At 44 now that means putting off freedom until my late sixties.

In the back of my mind I wonder whether I have a fear of freedom. Am I replacing work with parenting because I would not know how to live with the lack of excuses for personal growth and meaningful purpose that freedom gives. Have I been institutionalized by work and am avoiding freedom? Is it a for of One More Year syndrome?

All thought are welcomed. Face punches as well if I am just being self indulgent (I know this is a first world problem)

Thanks in advance
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: pbkmaine on September 18, 2016, 07:17:39 PM
I guess the first question is, why children now?
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: frugalcoconut on September 18, 2016, 07:19:10 PM
I'm curious if you've intentionally (or subconsciously) been putting off the children thing until you're essentially done working ... so that, as a single parent, you could really experience every moment with your child(ren) and avoid daycare, avoid worries related to money/layoffs/etc., not be stressed out from work and juggling multiple roles, etc.

I imagine that the challenges of being a single parent can be somewhat alleviated by a solid support system (not sure if you have that available through family/friends) but that doesn't make it easy.

Also it's possible that on the journey to FI, you were searching for your passions and ways you wanted to spend your time once a job was removed from the equation ... and this thought kept creeping up in the back of your mind.

I can even see myself in your situation someday ... unfortunately there's no return policy and it's not like a hobby where you can simply give it up if you don't like it (well I guess you can, but that would be seriously screwed up), so I have been leaning strongly towards "no".  Will I feel the same way in 8 years?  I have no idea.  Achieving financial freedom has been a driving force in my life ... although that may be different than the "personal" freedom you mentioned. 

Have you always envisioned yourself as a parent, or did something recently trigger the desire to procreate?

Since you are still working ... is there an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) you can utilize to discuss these ideas with a therapist (if you're comfortable doing so)?
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: celticblue on September 18, 2016, 07:39:45 PM
Wow frugalcoconut. You did nail a few things exactly.

So yes I did not think I could manage single parenthood and work. Not the work I am in which is very well paid but not family friendly.

I have no support systems in this country (zero, nada, zilch)

For medical reasons I wasn't sure surrogacy was possible until the last 4-5 years so it was not even on my radar. It is something that I have thought of a lot over the past 2-3 years and I keep coming back to it. I just keep imagining not having kids and feeling regret. I also imagine not having a substantial period of freedom in my life and that also is something I feel I would regret.

Surrogacy was also not possible financially until now. At least in my mind. I am very conservative financially. Basically I have costed for the kids in reverse. I have saved up for their college, then after that I saved for their living expenses until they were 21. And finally I am now working on the expense of actually getting them "made". I feared something would happen to me and I did not want there to be any chance of them being at financial risk if something happened to me.

Thank you for your point about getting counseling. I am mentally resistant to that I am afraid. Not for any particularly good reason so I will try not to dismiss it and see if I can get used to the idea.

Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: little_brown_dog on September 19, 2016, 09:51:32 AM
Wow this is a deep question. As a parent though, I can tell you that I view parenting as something completely different than working (even if you absolutely love your field/career). I really don’t feel like being a parent has trapped me, even though technically I have far less time for myself, and I am constantly attached to a demanding little person 24/7. I did however feel trapped and suffocated while working full time….something about the work schedule, the commute, the constant expectations/requirements/demands of the workplace was far more difficult for me on a day to day basis than being with an infant/toddler all the time. I don’t know why…maybe it is because I genuinely enjoy parenting, so being with her doesn’t feel like a sacrifice or a trap at all. Or maybe it is because the rhythm  and flow of a day with my daughter is far more natural to me than the rigid 9-5 rat race, which in turn makes the workload and challenges far more tolerable than they objectively should be. Who knows.

Parenting is hard no matter what path you take...try not to overthink it too much. I will say that if you are planning on single parenthood as an older parent, you may want to take it 1 baby at a time and explore the idea of having a single child. You mentioned "children" plural - one little will be far easier to manage in the long run and being open to a solo child family will relieve some of the pressure/time crunch you might feel to get the babies made ASAP. I would also really try to build a support network before the baby is very difficult to care for an infant completely on your own and a newborn's schedule naturally creates a situation where even the most well connected parents can quickly become isolated and lonely.
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: TheAnonOne on September 19, 2016, 10:39:35 AM
You are looking at this with an odd assumption...

A kid is = to work

You say you wouldn't be free, but you are literally now free to raise your kid without worrying about money!

No one is going to be able to tell you if a child is going to be a "good thing" because, like all of life's choices the answer is some shade of grey.

Q. Will you be as stressed at work as with a kid?
A. Probably not, but more stressed than no work and no kid

Q. Will you be unfulfilled as a person without a kid? Or conversely, will you be fulfilled with a child?
A. Neither entirely, a child does not automatically mean fulfillment, just as much as no kids does not equal feeling unfulfilled. There are many ways you can help other people and gain the fulfillment you desire.

Q. Are you afraid of freedom?
A. Maybe, this one is up to you to answer. However, most here feel this way, and after 6-months (decompression time) they realize they had nothing to fear!

Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: oldtoyota on September 19, 2016, 10:52:57 AM
People  have addressed other areas of your question in smart ways, so I will add something about the community.

You can absolutely create community, and these people could help you. In return, you can help them.

I joined several parenting groups and now I find it fairly easy to have the kidlet spend the night when we need a night out or find backup for the various carpools. And I've found plenty of emotional-type help--hearing what others are going through and know that what we're going through is developmentally normal and expected.

You might be surprised at just how many people you meet once you have a child.

That said, I can say that the first year is a whirlwind. As with any new venture, you have to learn the ropes and it takes time and persistence while you're already tired (if your baby is not a great sleeper). Not working during that time would make it so much easier for you!

Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: celticblue on September 19, 2016, 11:13:23 AM
So much thoughtful and kind advice here that its giving me 'feelings' :)

To add a bit more info I am intending to have twins. The reasons are that I am older and on a compressed timeline. I already feel it is late to become a parent to be fair to the children. I would love them to have a sibling who they can relate to. So there is not time to have two successively. I still have 1-2 years to go to save. And if any of you are familiar with the surrogacy process you might be aware that the difference between a single and twin child is really not that much financially versus it being a prohibitive cost to go through 2 successive surrogacies.

I am very aware that I am articulating having a child as "work". I know that is an odd way to look at it emotionally but it does seem reasonable to say it on a practical level. An awful lot of work :)

Thank you for all the comments so far.
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: mozar on September 19, 2016, 11:39:10 AM
I'm not sure you will be able to have twins easily. Even if two embryos are implanted one might die.

Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: FLBiker on September 19, 2016, 12:03:52 PM
My situation is quite different, but DW and I also debated having kids.  We had one 1.5 years ago (I'm 40, she's 36).  It has been awesome (very challenging at times, of course, but awesome).

My resistance to having kids was 1) I'm not particularly optimistic about the direction that my country (US) is heading in and 2) I worried that I was "too selfish" -- too focused on doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.  Re: 1) having a support system of like-minded people has been very helpful and re: 2) it hasn't been an issue.  There's nothing I love more than hanging out with my daughter.  I still work full time, but DW has been able to stay home for the past year, and will stay home for another year.

Re: FI, I'm sure we pushed it back a couple of years, but who cares?
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: frugalcoconut on September 19, 2016, 06:25:27 PM
What does freedom mean to you?

Can you brainstorm things that you'd be interested in doing and/or excited about doing post-retirement if you remain child-free?  Which of those things might still be attainable if you have 1-2 kids in tow?

You've already done most of the planning (the fun part) and saving up toward the possibility of adding children to your life ... and now it's almost time to push the big red button which is super-scary.  You can take the plunge or simply do nothing (which represents another unknown) but it's a very personal decision.

You may have dedicated so much of your life energy toward your career that it would be beneficial to start your journey of self-discovery (gradually!) and figure out who you are and who you want to be when you "grow up".  :)
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: Bicycle_B on September 19, 2016, 09:42:00 PM
OP, you're pretty clearly focused on surrogacy.  Is there any chance you would foster or adopt?

I don't mean to dissuade you from surrogacy, or the committed decisions you are considering.  However one advantage of the foster parent route is that it can be done on a temporary basis - there are always children in the system who need a foster parent for a limited time.  Perhaps such an experience would clarify what you want, and how you feel while parenting.

Best wishes regardless of which adventure you choose.
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: celticblue on September 20, 2016, 07:29:25 AM
Thanks again

Frugalcoconut - yes some brainstorming is required. I am working on it. My general feeling is that I over committed to my career and neglected personal and familial relationships in the process. I moved around the world and missed out on family events, long term friendships and the really ordinary  day to day process of just sharing time and moments with people I love.  I do want to recoup some of this in the next stage of my life. My other passions (personal study, art, politics, theater, reading, cooking) are all compatible with parenthood.

Adoption - i think people will dislike this answer. But its the most honest that I can be. I always felt like the kid who wasn't chosen, the awkward one that people didn't dislike but didn't really warm to. The kid who was last to be picked for teams, socialising etc.  I think I would find it devastating not to be selected as a parent and I really do not want to go through that. I think it would confirm all the insecurities I have ever had. And hopefully have made strides at overcoming. I don't want to be judged by other people when for a large part of my life I have noticed my values seem distinct from a lot of people. Hence why I like this forum :)

Fostering - I would consider fostering as an addition if I had my children. I would love to be able to offer a home and love on a temporary basis to a kid who needed it. But I don't think I want the process of detachment that I imagine it may require. I would prefer permanent parenting.

Surrogacy - I have no particular need for the child to be biologically mine. What I like about surrogacy is that its definite (within biological constraints). If I have the money and determination I can make it happen. It seems like the option that would most work for me.

Am sure the above will invite many different opinions. These are just my own personal and subjective conclusions
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: SKL-HOU on September 20, 2016, 07:44:40 AM
I am a single mom with no family around. I work full time. As hard as it is, I would not change it for anything. You are FI so I think that will be less pressure.
Title: Re: Am I afraid of freedom?
Post by: FrugalFan on September 20, 2016, 10:59:57 AM
I think having twins as a single parent with no support system nearby would be very challenging. Perhaps you could make sure you have a bit of extra money saved so that you could get a sitter every once in a while. It can be difficult in the first year if one or both of them don't sleep well (sleep deprivation sucks!), and having someone who could look after them while you get a bit of sleep could be helpful.

Don't think of having kids as taking away your freedom. Look at arebelspy traveling all over the world with his daughter, or
If you enjoy spending time with your kids, and you don't have the stress of work to contend with, you can do whatever you want. 

Also, I know there are varying opinions on this, but I don't think saving for college needs to be a high priority.