2014-THANKSgiving

5 Reasons I’m Embracing My Advanced Maternal Age

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older-mother-and-babyImage via Shutterstock

A few words of advice: If you wake one day to discover that your finely wrought prose is being heralded throughout cyberspace, gloat about it on Facebook. InstaPinterTweet it. But do not read the comments.

A few months ago, one of my Scary Mommy posts was picked up by a website dedicated to family topics. It was a light-hearted piece in which I complained about embarrassing mommy lingo and the equally embarrassing output of various body holes. Notably, in the intro to my post, I mention that I didn’t become a mom until I was a few weeks shy of 37.

“Oh golly, I’m on the Internet,” I thought to myself, “I’ll finally be cool and popular!” So I gobbled up the comments, soaking in every effusive “LOL!”

Then, at the bottom of the thread, I spotted it, a comment that made my breath catch in my throat. To paraphrase: “We had all 3 of our kids by the time I was 32. How dare you endanger the life of your baby by waiting until you were middle aged to become a mom?”

I don’t remember the hour or so after I read that comment, but when I came to, an empty bag of Tostitos lay on the bed, my face was slimy with wrinkle cream, and I’d composed a lengthy list of synonyms for both “heartless” and “tit meat for brains” in my dream journal.

Every middle-aged, baby-endangering fiber of my being wanted to point out that, by her logic, my child would have been better off never having been born. But that emotionally constipated crab bag didn’t want to have a debate; she wanted to land the Internet equivalent of a sucker punch. Furthermore, I don’t owe some anonymous crotch snot an explanation for my procreational choices.

But, like it or not, Mrs. Mommier Than Thou got me thinking about what it means to have a child later in life. If my kid marries, I might enjoy our mother-son dance from the comfort of my Hoveround mobility scooter. And what if I have another kid? I may need a daily Geritol infusion just to survive the sleepless nights, the breastfeeding, and the toxically stupid judgment of self-righteous Internet thunder dumps.

Yet, given the chance go back a decade, to have my son while I was still in my 20s, I wouldn’t. And here’s why:

1. I like myself more. In my mid and late 20s, my bod was a rock — washboard abs, sweet guns, a butt of distinction. Now I have a frowny face where my belly button used to be. It’s all good though, because no matter how many obsessive hours I spent on the treadmill, I never caught up with perfect. At some point in the last 10 years, I gave up on my dream of becoming the world’s first short, pale, pear-shaped Victoria’s Secret model and instead focused on my family, my health, and my career. The funny thing is, my ass deflated, but my self-esteem got ripped. In my 20s, I wouldn’t have been prepared for the horrors that motherhood visits upon the body. And in the long, hard newborn nights, self-loathing is a miserable bedfellow. Yes, I wish my boobs would reanimate. But what I want more than a nice rack is to show my son that there is worth in pursuing what you love and in loving yourself for having the courage to pursue it.

2. I’m healthier. About a decade ago, the migraines I’d suffered off and on since childhood finally made a full-time commitment. What had been a bimonthly inconvenience became a daily descent into excruciating pain. Doctors jabbed, scanned, palpated, and medicated me. Then they sent me the $10,000 bill. It took me years, a loan, and a few strongly worded conversations with God before my health improved. I can’t imagine trying to mother a houseplant, let alone a newborn, when I was sick; there were so many painkillers in my system that “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” would have sounded more like “The Itchy Bitchy Schpiiiiiiider.” Nowadays, I’m an Amazon. Put some coffee in me and I can change a loaded diaper while doing the Hokey Pokey (true story).

3. I’m more financially secure. Quaint though it sounds to pop out a baby while one is in graduate school and self-employed, I prefer my present circumstances. In my 20s, I paid my dues — taking classes, working at low-paying gigs, putting in 50- or 60-hour work weeks. Had my son arrived back then, I would have been forced to choose between finding questionable daycare on my measly budget or quitting school and work. Thankfully, my son didn’t explode onto the scene (a birth metaphor I promise never to use again) until I was in my 30s, when I had more money and more work experience. After I became a mom, my employer valued me enough to agree to a family- and finance-friendly work arrangement: I telecommute 20 hours per week. This is the best of all worlds: I have enough money to pay for fantastic part-time daycare, I can continue to work and keep my skills up to date, and I get to spend more time watching my son throw metal kitchen utensils on our new hardwood floor and then cry when he trips over a garlic press.

4. I’m not as dumb. These days, I relish a night out with my husband or with a few friends. Give me a babysitter and a designated driver, and I’ll show you a woman who knows how to throw down at a neighborhood restaurant. “Another glass of sangria, ma’am?” Hell-to-the-yes (on the third Wednesday of every month)! But a decade ago, I’d be more apt to wile away an evening or seven in a dive bar, where I could sidle up to a drunken moonshiner named Dead Eye who insisted I was a “squirrel with a small brain” who should “run far, far away!” (Hypothetically speaking.) So, yeah, I didn’t always make sound choices in my 20s. I put adventure before personal safety. And though I occasionally pine for the days of (hypothetically speaking) chatting up colorful would-be murderers, I know that I need to be there for my son. This means putting money into a college savings plan and avoiding strange men with prison tattoos.

5. I finally met my husband. A decade ago, I didn’t even know that my husband, Shelby, existed. And, frankly, I couldn’t have given birth to my son without my husband; I’ve yet to master the art of spontaneously generating another human. It’s not just that Shelby is an amazing dad — the kind of dad who made pint after pint of baby food from scratch and who is more distraught than our boy during vaccinations — it’s also that our kid just wouldn’t be our kid without that 50% dose of Shelby genes. The kid is wildly independent, a bit easily frustrated, but always ready to tackle a new challenge, be it scaling a baby gate or fitting a golf ball into his mouth. That’s pure Shelby DNA. And, just like his dad, my son makes me laugh every day. So was waiting a decade for this family, the one I have right now, worth it? You bet your big, stupid assface it was, lady.

Related post: 10 Benefits to Being The Older Mom

Comments

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  1. 1

    says

    I didn’t even want children when my husband and I got engaged when I was 29, and I was no nearer to wanting one when we married when I was 31. I had my first at 33, my second at nearly 36, and I’m 38 and pregnant with twins now. I doubt very much I would have been a good mother, or any kind of mother in my 20’s. I had my kids when I was ready, physically, mentally and emotionally. Good for you, for embracing later motherhood! Also, 37 is NOT OLD.

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    • 2

      KB says

      I had my child at 39 and he is healthy happy boy. i have much higher salary then in my early thirties- so an added benefit . I had the chance to do travel and do many things that I would will not have the chance to do until my child is older. I have no regets

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  2. 3

    Tanya says

    I turned 36 a couple if days after my first, and only, child was born. Years of infertility was the main reason why she arrived after I had planned, but there were so many benefits. Like you mentioned, financial security is a big one – I have chosen to take the first few years of her life off to be a sahm, an option we could not have afforded years ago. A big one for me is that I was married almost 11 years before my daughter was born, so hubs and I have had years of being a carefree couple, and have done our share of traveling, bar hopping, fancy dinners. I have a friend who had babies much younger than I did, and she really misses her carefree days. Sure, I do occasionally, but not often. I had a chance to get it out of my system, I guess. Think my relationship with my husband is stronger than it would have been had we had wee ones earlier as well.

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  3. 4

    Bren says

    I had my first at 39 and my second at 42. When certain life events happen that make you wait (wrong husband, wrong place, wrong time) and don’t correct themselves until later than you expected – you roll with it!

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  4. 5

    Dayna says

    I’m 34 and still working on baby #1. I have always worried about (obsessively) being “too old” to be a good mom. Or that it’s not healthy for mom or baby. So thank you for this article! I will try to be less scared, and just focus on getting pregnant and enjoying every moment.

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  5. 7

    says

    Had my first at 30 & my second (and last) at 38.5. I have zero regrets & all of my fears of AMA birth defects were quickly addressed & put aside by my high risk OB. One big perk? “Older” skin isn’t as susceptible to stretch marks…so suck it, young moms!

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  6. 13

    JennM says

    I was 8 months shy of turning 40 when my son was born. Like you, i never would have managed motherhood in my 20’s or even early 30’s due to an alcoholic first husband and a myriad of heath issues.

    I wouldn’t change a thing!!!!!

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  7. 16

    Heidi says

    I laughed so hard at this I nearly bounced my four-month-old off my lap. Good for you! I have two kids…my first at 33 and a second “surprise” at 39. I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. Both kids are happy and healthy, even if I am cranky and sleep-deprived. Thanks for writing what this mom needed to read on a Monday morning after three hours of sleep.

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  8. 19

    says

    Well put! #5 All the way! I was just telling my husband, this weekend, that even knowing how having kids fills me with such joy and love, I wouldn’t have wanted to have them earlier in life, because it wouldn’t have been with -him-. And there is so much love, caring, and happiness in our family, that I wouldn’t trade that for being a mom earlier in life for anything. I love that our first little girl, with whom I became pregnant at 39, and our upcoming one (41) are -our- children, the fruit of the all encompassing, solid-as-rock love that we have for one another. Our babies are healthy, truly loved and wanted, and have the benefit of a very happy and stable family.

    Would I have loved to meet my husband, my soul mate, earlier in life? Of course. But I am thankful that we met, and that we were fortunate enough to have wonderful little girls together, to cherish and love forever. :)

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    • 21

      says

      I know, right? It must be exhausting being so judgmental. And certain health risks for babies born to young mothers also exist, so there’s that. There’s always one in the crowd … usually two or more on the Web.

      I had my first in my late 20s, second in my 30s and third at 40. I wouldn’t change a thing!!

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  9. 22

    says

    I am 42 with a 14 month old little girl I am always waiting for some one to think I’m her grandma lol she’s my second child my son is 13 and the difference in me and my parenting skills is huge there are days I wish I was younger but I defiantly wouldn’t be wiser.

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  10. 27

    carol says

    while i was 24 when i had my first son i had my last son of 6 when i was 41, and even though i wasn´t a bad mother while i was younger i am a better mother now …….

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    • 28

      says

      Thanks so much, Carol! Your comment in particular reminded me of something I didn’t include in my story: I know many younger moms (my youngest sister comes to mind), who are amazing and who, in fact, I aspire to be like. A decade ago, my sister was already married, settled into a career, and making a home. I’m 6 years her senior, but a decade ago, I was writing poetry and living on ramen noodles. To each her own!

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  11. 29

    says

    I myself was just shy of 36 when my daughter was born, not excluding the fact of two miscarriages before third time was the charm, I now also realize that no matter how much you think you are ready for children early on you are almost always way more selfish before growing up a little, i KNOW i am a much better mother now than when i was in my early 20’s (as planned?)

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