I have a condition that doctors like to call “advanced maternal age.” For those of you who aren’t in the medical profession, that means I was a late bloomer. I met my husband when I was 30, got married at 31, and had my first baby shortly before I turned 36. I never really considered my advanced maternal age to be all that unusual. After all, my mom was 41 when I was born. But when my kids started school, I had an abrupt change in perspective brought about by the realization that I’m a good 10 years older than most of the other moms. Many of them are now my dear friends, and I usually don’t focus on the age difference. But I still have the occasional rude awakening. A few examples:
1. I realize I’m old enough to be my child’s teacher’s mother.
2. Some of the other kids’ grandparents are younger than my parents.
3. My friend is talking about her 10-year plan, and it takes me a few seconds to realize she doesn’t mean retirement.
4. I have to figure out how to explain the fact that I’m too old to have another baby to kids who don’t yet know all of the mechanics involved.
5. I sometimes horrify other parents by uttering such un-PC phrases as “Because I said so”; “Your face is going to freeze like that”; and “If you don’t stop eating those chips, you’re going to get fat.”
6. I have to bite my tongue to keep from sharing my life’s wisdom with younger parents. It doesn’t go over well when their kids are older than mine.
7. I get “ma’am”d by another mom. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a southern girl through and through, and I hold “ma’am” and “sir” in very high regard. I cringe when my kids fail to say it to another adult. (OK, I cringe when anybody’s kids fail to say it.) I say it anywhere and everywhere. On the phone, I’ve probably said it to people who are younger than I am. But for the love of all that’s holy, don’t say it to somebody who has kids the same age as yours! Even if she is 20 years older.
8. I get comments about my kids being so close in age. When you start as late as I did, you’d better hurry if you want to squeeze them all in. I had three babies in under three years—and Nos. 2 and 3 are only 11 months apart.
9. I wonder why my friend’s hair appointment cost less than half of what I paid, and then I realize that she just gets cute little highlights, not full gray coverage (followed by cute little highlights).
10. My husband and I chuckle fondly about “those kids”—and we’re talking about other parents.
11. I consider telling my 9-year-old daughter about periods because I’m worried that, by the time she has hers, I won’t remember what it’s like. I wouldn’t trade my advanced maternal age for anything; I’d have been a really lousy mom in my twenties. And probably my early thirties. But it would be nice if the other parents were just a little older. C’mon, just turn 40 before I turn 50. Please?