A funny thing happened to me on the way to pick up my daughter the other day. Well, it wasn’t “ha, ha” funny, but more like, “Are you serious?” funny. While I waited for Thing 2 to gather her things from a play date, I struck up a conversation with a couple of the other moms, including the mother of Thing 2’s friend. We chatted, small talk mostly, about this and that, but then the conversation turned to some of the joys and difficulties of raising children. Just then one of the moms said that she always knew that she wanted to be done having children by the time she was in her early 30’s because she thinks 40 is just too old. After all, you wouldn’t be able to keep up with your kids by the time that they are in middle school. She continued on to say that she thought that it was just plain selfish to wait too long to have children. Now, my daughter’s friend’s mother knows that I have adult children and had apparently done the math, because about this time she turned a really pretty shade of reddish-purple. Here is where I have a confession to make: I am ever so slightly passive-aggressive. Don’t judge me.
“How old are you?” I asked? “29,” she answered. “How many kids do you have?”
“Well, I had Thing 2 when I was 41 and my oldest child is 22 – years – old. We have five in all and I can honestly say that it’s been all good!”
Then, she looks at me and says “Why in the world would you start over having children at 40?” She truly seemed baffled. I was a bit taken aback, maybe by her being so forward, but not surprised. I have read several blog posts from women who take serious issue with moms over 40. Not to mention the various comments that my husband and I endured when we announced that we were expecting another baby to be delivered just 18 months after the arrival of Thing 1. Now, let me point out here that a couple who, at ages 40 and 47 are expecting their fifth child, more than likely did not plan that pregnancy. Therefore, I think we should have been afforded a certain degree of consideration before we were bombarded with unsolicited opinions. But, no, that was not the case. We heard everything from “Can’t you guys just watch t.v.?” to “Haven’t you ever heard of birth control?” On the upside, my husband achieved rock star status among his middle-aged male friends. By the way, don’t even get me started on the double standard of women being called selfish for having children late in life but, men being patted on the back for the same thing.
Yes, I am a M.A.A. I’m a Mom of Advanced Age. You want to know who first used that term with me? My high risk doctor. I kid you not. Obviously, he was not very charming. He would say things to me like “Since you are a Mom of Advanced Age we have to look out for blah, blah, blah…” and “Moms of Advanced Age are at risk for blah, blah, blah…” I swear that by the time he said that for the 10th time, I wanted to punch him in the neck. I understand that certain pregnancy risks increase with the age of the mother, but I think that there was another way of saying it. For what it’s worth, this M.A.A. delivered a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby girl.
So, as I considered this woman’s question, I decided to give her a serious answer instead of rolling my eyes and walking out (really mature, right?). By the way, it takes my daughter an insane amount of time to get her stuff ready to go. Believe me, I did speak with her about this when we finally got into the car.
Basically, this is what I told her:
1. Because I love my husband and I wanted to give birth to his children.
2. Generally when you’re older you are more stable and you have more resources.
3. I have more patience.
4. I LOVE being a mother and I wasn’t ready to watch them all go off to college.
5. Parenting from the rear view mirror is really cool because you can see things that should have been done differently and make adjustments, while other things just stay the course.
6. Things that cause a lot of angst in younger mothers don’t faze me. I do not sweat the small stuff mainly because I know what’s coming. Not to mention that there are some things that you will face as a parent that there is no way you can prepare for.
7. I’m much better at taking one day at a time and not planning or wishing their lives away.
8. In general, I really don’t care about other’s opinions (unless I ask for it). You’re welcome to give it, I just don’t care.
9. I am far more confident than I was the first time around. I think this helps me raise confident daughters.
10. I find it ironic that women under 40 are far more concerned than women over 40 about having children later in life.
I was a little more eloquent than that but, that was the gist of it. She didn’t really respond and that was about the time that Thing 2 and her doll appeared, ready to go. I bid everyone a good afternoon and exited stage left.
I wasn’t angry but, I was certainly annoyed. Motherhood is demanding enough without people making an issue out of a non-issue. I know a number of beautiful women who are also members of M.A.A., and they, like me, are very happy with their decision to have children later in life. It may not be for everyone, but that’s okay, it doesn’t have to be. I’m free to do me.
Obviously, I have no regrets. Big Poppa and I comment all of the time that we can’t imagine our lives without these two sweeties. Of course, retirement in the next 10 … 15… 20 years is out of the question. Sure, we will probably have grand-children before our last two kids leave home. However, we consider ourselves blessed with these two precious gifts. We are happy with our decision, and grateful for the opportunity to be their parents. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.