Postponing Motherhood: Is It Possible To Build A Family and A Career?

I was 27 when I married the man with whom I created two children—at the height of my career as a political reporter-turned-journalist and just as my first book made its way to store shelves. Two years into our marriage, we decided to have children. Each of them was made from love. Wanted. Mari arrived when I was almost 31—Lila three years later, almost to the day. I can honestly say that by the time my second daughter arrived, I was exhausted—working an exacting job as a magazine editor, traveling from state-to-state promoting my published books, writing more books in the middle of the night—later, dealing with the grief of losing my mother and a massive move South and the bold journey to becoming a full-time author and freelance writer. In other words, I built my career while I built my family—something the women from my generation were wont to do. But I saw a shift in the sisters coming right behind me—women who put career-building ahead of family-building, and suggested that I was “rushing” into having kids when I should have been nurturing my burgeoning career as a journalist and author. They wanted love and babies, but not at the expense of the jobs they’d studied for and worked so hard to get. They understood the stakes. Took the chances. And some of them are just fine with their decisions. But some of them, now in their late 30s and 40s, are not.

I was reminded of these sisters and the choices they made when I read, Baby Maybe: How Modern Life Conflicts With Your Baby-Making Body, a thoughtful piece MyBrownBaby favorite Danielle Belton of The Black Snob penned for Clutch. In it, she reminds women that while postponing motherhood is a woman’s absolute right (and sometimes unavoidable), doing so comes with serious consequences:

…some of us will spend our prime “baby making” years single.

And while waiting for your family makes sense as women who start their families in their late 30s/early 40s tend to be more educated, more financially stable, happier with themselves and in healthier relationships, there’s on little hitch. A woman’s fertility rate still drops dramatically during your mid-30s.

While you’re a modern woman, your uterus may as well still be fitted in a loin cloth, living in the Stone Age.

If you’re serious about being a first-time mother you need to learn the truth about fertility. While science has improved and our world is striving towards equality, your womb is still on the same biological schedule as it was back when people got married as teenagers. Don’t let the female celebrities-over-40 baby boom fool you. Complications, fertility drugs, debates over surrogacy are all the reality for many who delay having children – including the uteri of the rich and famous…

If you’re waiting until what you think will be the perfect time to become a mother, I encourage you to read Danielle’s post in its entirety over on Clutch. And for those of you with children, what were your challenges balancing building your family with building your career?


1. Daddy Denied: Jay-Z Says Fatherlessness Made Him Delay Becoming A Dad
2. Motherhood Denied: The Dark Legacy of North Carolina’s Eugenics Law, Through the Eyes Of A Black Mom
3. Beyonce’s “Maniac” Work While Pregnant: Please, Baby—Slow Down!
4. {Bringing up Boogie} For Colored Girls Who Are Pregnant, Alone & Unable to See the Rainbow

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. I’m in the same boat you were in, building my career while building my family. I think one of the challenges is that you are still somewhat limited by your career choices when you have a family. The thought of working a 80 hour week in Investment Banking seems pretty challenging when you are raising children and you have a spouse. Once I had my daughter, I became very selective of what I spend doing with my time. I don’t think you have to worry about that when you are single with no children.

  2. I always tell people I’ve been a mother longer than I’ve had a “career,” since I gave birth to my first at 20, and my second at 22. The beauty in this is that my kid notice the progression in my career. They (kinda) remember being in a tiny (maybe 400 square feet) apartment, then we moved to a bigger apartment, then we bought a house. I’m happy to be growing side-by-side. I don’t think there’s a perfect time to have a family. I knew I had a man in my life that I loved and we wanted our children so we went for it.

  3. Balance comes completely with having a strong community and village. If not for my core village my career/family ratio would be completely off. There is no “perfect” time to have a family but I do keep my business and career goals in mind with family planning. Always have. It does not create a perfect situation but one that I am comfortable with.

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Denene! I definitely struggled with PWP (Parenting While Pursuing) myself. Neither of my daughters started as planned pregnancies (faaaaaaar from it!), but I struggled with the idea of a dual commitment to my roles as a businesswoman and a mother. I figured I couldn’t possibly do both things well, but thankfully I was wrong.

    I take no issue with responsible planning of one’s life, but I do take issue with the idea that women might be better off waiting until their careers are “in order” before they venture into motherhood. By all means, plan away, but know that millions of us are committed mothers, happy wives, AND successful women in our chosen careers.

    Building a support team is key, as is reminding ourselves that balance is not always attainable, but work-life harmony is ALWAYS a viable option.

  5. Thanks for this site!! I just found it today!! I am struggling with the family/career issue right now. So many of us have just worked hard with tunnel vision so long and then we find ourselves at a crucial point in our career and at a crucial point in our family life at the same time. I will be returning to 80 hour work weeks in less than 6 months after taking a 2 year “hiatus-ish” time to have my daughter. I am pretty terrified and trying hard to build my support team. The hard part is how much I want to be with my daughter in a way I never could have known before she was here. But now I feel like I am too far into my career (and into student loan debt) to walk away from what I’ve worked for, even though a big piece of me wants to.

  6. I found this site today and I am excited to finally have a blog for pregnancy and parenthood for women of color! I recently got married in Sept. I am 29 yrs old. I have had baby fever for quite sometime but now that I am married, its even stronger. I suffer for PCOS and my husband got a vasectomy at a young age and we are going through the process of getting it reversed so we can start a family. My faith in God brings me peace for a successful pregnancy and healthy babies. As far as the career is concerned, if I could afford to, I would be a stay at home mom until my children became school age. I just feel like I dont want to miss those moments of watching them grow up but because im working all the time i miss those moments. My husband and I sat down and decided to find careers that would fit the lifestyle we want. I decided to go into the field of education, switching from salon ownership( at this point) because i like the flexibility that educators have. I am home by 5 most days, off on the weekends, summers, winter and spring break. It gives me the oportunity to still have a fullfilling career doing something im passionate about but still the time to be a wife and a mother. I’m old school and I like the idea being a homemaker. Owning a salon would require 60+ hours or more a week, every saturday, no paid time off. My husband choose to do law enforcement versus the FBI. While those are still our dreams, we prioritize the life we want with children included and chose the best option. I think it is possible to have a career and family but you just have to know what you want and what makes sense for you and family. For me personally, I dont want to work until my fingers are raw and miss the once in a lifetime moments with the family i created for the sake of money, power and prestige….

  7. Hi! Newbie here… just want to say that I really appreciate this article. I married in 2010 and am currently pregnant for the first time at age 34. We said we wanted to wait a year before trying for kids (which we did), but we found it interesting that some people said that it was fine to wait even longer… you know, so we could enjoy some more time together as husband and wife, travel, etc., before having kids.

    While that’s all well and good, who’s to say that we’d be able to have kids when we wanted them after doing all that? It’s one thing to say that to a 20-something newlywed, quite another to say that to a 30-something newlywed! I know there are plenty of women who conceive and have healthy babies in their late 30s and even 40s, but there are many we don’t know about who are struggling mightily with infertility.

    People need to be a lot more realistic about the limitations of one’s body when it comes to pregnancy. All of my relational role models managed to get their education, start careers, marry and start families in a way similar to Denene, so the idea that this generation puts forth that one has to wait for years after a career is established to have children honestly makes no sense to me. I guess I’m part of that generation that came after Denene, and I understand what she’s saying about being pressured to “keep waiting” and keep working on that career before bringing babies into the picture.

    Instead, I made a sacrifice to downshift my career to focus on being a mother… and I can’t wait until our baby comes! I wouldn’t have chosen to do anything differently.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment—and welcome to the MyBrownBaby crew! We’re so excited for you and your new baby. Congrats!

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