I scroll TikTok and pause at a cool new mom with her eighteen-month-old son. She shows off her daily fit — a thrifted sweatshirt, wide-leg pants, and platform Converse. She seamlessly plugs a lip gloss brand, flashes a cute smile, and the video ends. I immediately head to Depop for a sweatshirt, knowing I need to replicate this trendy look. I am sure I will look equally cool in an outfit similar to hers. Because we are both young moms, into fashion... except wait… I am not that young. I am thirty-seven. I’m arguably too old for Tiktok and I certainly should not be shopping in the twenty-three-year-old section. (Which is essentially what Depop is, if you aren’t familiar.) Is this new mom even old enough to remember the first time we all wore the terrible flared jeans that are now making a comeback? I doubt it!
This life stage feels so strange — I’m not young per se, but I’m also not old. It’s weird, and I feel lost in the land of the late thirties.
It feels strange, straddling the line between generations with one foot in each life stage. I watch The Kardashians and Teen Mom, but I am asleep by 9pm and my hips hurt after a long walk. I love inappropriate jokes and use adolescent slang, but I am drunk after one cosmo. I shop at Abercrombie and listen to Bieber, but I am passionate about butcher block oil and full-coverage underwear. It’s like I am right between two worlds. One feels desperate and the other feels sad. So I am here just standing still — feeling confused.
I am not a new mom, but I am not totally seasoned either. I have little ones, but I am no longer in that building stage. My fourth child is a year and a half, and I am no longer adding any more players to my roster. My family is complete and today, at 37, it is simply time to play. But it is a strange feeling, scrolling social media and seeing pregnancy announcements from acquaintances and family friends, all so much younger than I.
That girl is a kid, I think to myself. But of course, she isn't. And it’s her turn now — to have a baby shower, create her first nursery, and start her motherhood journey, while I’m on the other side. But instead of feeling accomplished and excited about my new life stage, I feel lost. Because I don’t want to say goodbye to the babies and toddlers — to my motherhood youth. I do not want to become a middle-aged mom of older kids. But here I am.
Maybe I need to take this transition slowly, and lean forward a little at a time. I mean, it is the only logical direction of travel in life after all. Maybe I need to be a little less fearful of leaving this more youthful stage and a tad more embracing of the next chapter. And I think I can do it with grace and balance. I don’t have to run straight to Ann Taylor Loft and start playing pickleball. Instead, I can slowly transition out of this weird in-between.
I’ll start with small changes, like less comparing myself to young moms and influencers. More light reading and less TikTok. And I will start encouraging myself to recognize the beauty in my own age and experience instead of seeing it as a one-way ticket to Loserville. I will focus on some of the wonderful things that come with this next motherhood phase — more independence, body autonomy, and quality time with my husband.
I’ve even heard women say that they reach a new-found level of confidence and happiness in their later years, caring less and giving themselves more grace. Now I can get down with that. And until I am safely on the other side, I will just continue to tread water as best I can in this confusing in-between. Kind of young, kind of old, and really weird.
Samm Davidson is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.