I'm The ‘Old Mom’ With A Young Kid & Yes, Sometimes It's Weird
We don’t have to pretend that I’m not at least 15+ years older than some other parents in my son’s class.
I’m an “old mom.” Don’t freak out, okay?
For some reason, this is a term that makes people uncomfortable. “You’re not old,” they’ll say, as if it’s a subjective concept and not a fact. But I know what the birthdate on my driver’s license says. We don’t have to pretend that I’m not at least 15+ years older than some other parents in my son’s class. I promise that it’s okay! Besides, American women are now having babies at an older age so it’s not as if I’m setting a record for the world’s oldest mother — not by a long shot. But after moving from a big city, where older moms were the norm, to a suburb full of younger moms, my age now feels like less of the afterthought it once was.
I’m really not that different from other moms. Sure, my knees crack when I stand up. Or walk. And I was in high school at the same time as the West Beverly students from the original Beverly Hills, 90210. But I promise that doesn’t make me eligible for Medicare. Yet.
My son once made me one of those Mother's Day cards at school where kids fill in answers to prompts like "my mom's favorite food is" and "my mom is XX years old." He wrote that I was 45 years old. One of the other moms saw it and laughed as she said, "could you even imagine being 45 right now?" I didn’t clarify that I was actually 46.
I didn’t plan to be an older mom. When I played with dolls as a child, my Barbie didn’t tell Ken that she wouldn’t be ready to even consider getting pregnant until she was at least 35 years old. It’s just how my life unfolded: I didn’t have my son until I was 41.
I don’t proactively disclose my age when I meet other parents — does anyone? — but I don’t hide it, either. If I’m asked outright, I answer truthfully. Though I will admit that sometimes I feel like a fraud when I’m among a group of moms and they start talking about TV shows or music from their junior high or high school years and I don’t offer up that I was in college while watching and listening to the same things. Don’t get me wrong, there have also been some outright awkward moments, like the time when I mentioned having seen Depeche Mode in concert and was met with blank stares. And when the silence was finally broken it was only because someone said “I think my uncle used to like them back in the day.”
I've made mom friends in a range of ages, both younger and older. And while there is a special connection with my fellow “old moms,” I think that’s the case when you meet anyone with whom you share commonalities beyond parenthood. Not only are we in the same stage as parents but our lives in general are also more parallel because we are fellow GenXers who remember when MTV debuted, or the thrill of making prank calls before caller ID ruined the fun.
Age shouldn’t preclude any of us from becoming friends, though it has on occasion for me. When I’ve shared my age, some people have been visibly shocked and began to treat me differently. I somehow became less of a peer and more like I was their high school biology teacher they’d just run into at the grocery store. Maybe they assume my interests include eating dinner at 4:00 p.m. or reading the latest issue of the AARP magazine. Regardless, they don’t give me a chance. Any potential for a friendship dies a quick death in front of my (wrinkled) eyes.
I get it. We live in an ageist society, and while more and more people are truly starting to believe that “50 is the new 40,” not everyone feels comfortable having a friendship with someone who is even a few years older than they are. I can usually tell fairly early on who those people are. It doesn’t upset me, but I also don’t spend a lot of energy trying to cultivate a friendship that is anything more than casual with them because I know that will never be possible.
I’ve been asked if I wish I had “started sooner,” which is strange and, frankly, a little insulting. It’s almost implying that somehow things would be better had I been younger when my son was born. I wouldn't change a thing, but I also don't know anything else. I wasn’t nearly as calm in my 20s and 30s, and I think my son benefits from me being a more fully formed version of myself.
And he also probably appreciates the fact that at my age, I’m also quicker to tire out… which has been known to make me more likely to allow a little extra screen time.
Becky Vieira has been wearing mom jeans since 2016. She writes for a variety of parenting outlets, and can often be found oversharing intimate details of her life on Instagram. She's immensely proud of the time she thought to pee in one of her son's diapers while stuck in her car, as opposed to her pants.
Vieira’s debut book: Enough About the Baby: A Brutally Honest Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood is a guide book for women who recognize the necessity of self-care—even if sometimes the rest of the world does not. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, son, dog, three cats and a partridge in a pear tree.