This Is What It Means To Be A Mom Of Advanced Maternal Age

by Heather Candela
Originally Published: 
A mother's and a baby's hand on a wooden table.
AlenaPaulus / iStock

I’m an “older mother” — at least that’s what my OB chart plainly labeled me. AMA: Advanced Maternal Age. Apparently, any mother over the age of 35 gets that acronym. And I suppose I am really advanced, having surpassed that baseline by 12 years. I’ve always been advanced though. I was an early walker, an early reader, and an early bloomer. And continuing in that vein, I currently teach and coordinate advanced-placement classes at my school. So, yeah, I freely accept the AMA acronym.

But what else does it mean to be a mother of advanced age — an older mother, if you will?

Well, it means I can no longer do somersaults. I discovered that this past weekend as my sons were perfecting theirs. Tate, all nimble and quick and wheeling across the floor like a roly-poly bug. Parker, thudding onto his back from his leap-frog position like a Big Wheel with a flat tire. Me, I suddenly and foolishly felt compelled to demonstrate my long-dormant expertise. Big mistake. Frightful. I heard my neck go all crunchy — crunchier than my granola hipster students with joggers and facial hair. I think there are some residual pieces of vertebra rattling around in there like spilled trail mix. So there will be no more deliberate, premeditated tumbling routines in our living room.

It also means I don’t wear high heels much anymore. When the girls were little, I wore heels to work every day. That was pure nonsense. I shouldn’t have. Not because they contribute to bunions and plantar fasciitis (neither of which I have, mind you. I’m not that advanced), but because teetering after toddlers on stilts is not ideal. (Although, note to self: Putting toddlers on stilts might be. I suspect it would slow down their capacity to gain speed in a short time frame. It could potentially save my nerves and their lives in parking lot situations. Plus, Tate might even like it. He did inform me last night that he’s a Disney princess.)

Being an older mother also means my hormones are in a manic tug-of-war. Half my face thinks it’s a teenager and the other half is pleating and creasing its way toward Botox. The ensuing brawl is wreaking havoc on my skin. I have laugh lines and crow’s feet on one side and acne and oily patches on the other. My face is a tangled-up coastline of contradictions.

With my girls, I bought and used every exciting new cosmetic fad on the market. But as the mother of twins, I no longer have the time nor energy (nor money, for that matter) for expensive skin regimens. But that’s okay — I use the boys’ products without shame and quite possibly without good sense.

For example, over the past week, I’ve had a ginormous zit riding my bottom lip (yes, bottom lip — I told you my skin is haywire right now) that people have mistaken for a fever blister. So last night, I slathered a bit of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste on it and woke up this morning to a barely negligible pinpoint of a pustule which I promptly scrubbed away with the boys’ clinically proven, gentle formula baby body wash. Who needs fancy zit creams and expensive cleansers when your twin toddler products can ante up? Oh, and there’s an added bonus: I smell good enough to swaddle, and my cheeks are soft (and dimpled) as a baby’s bottom.

Yes, I’m a mom of advanced age. I can’t deny it. But that really doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I can think of plenty of good things that get even better with age, like blue jeans, for example, and cast iron skillets, and fine wine.

So time for a little metaphorical role play to analyze and legitimize my advanced maternal age worth and potential:

I am the mama equivalent of a pair of blue jeans. That makes me functional and durable and classy, or casual as needed. I’m always, always ready for the weekend. I’m soft and broken in, with an extra-long inseam for flexibility and just the right amount of Lycra to keep me snapping back when I’m stretched too thin thanks to my tendency to bite off more than I can chew. Still, I can cover most problem areas and make sure everything vital is covered. So that’s all good.

Heather Candela

And I’m a well-seasoned cast iron skillet of a mother. I’m valuable and irreplaceable. Nothing compares to me. I’m tried and I’m true — a tough, heavy-hitter with a satin finish who serves up comfort in ample doses. I weather the generations with strength. Hell, I perform better with time. I’m certainly no poser, no wannabe, no nonstick newcomer who turns all flakey and can’t handle the heat. Me, I’m multifunctional and sturdy, and I produce quality product time after time. Take a look at my girls, if you don’t believe me.

Heather Candela

And since I started motherhood all the way over again at 47 and am now a mother of twin toddlers at 50, I’m a miracle of Jesus. So that must make me…fine wine. And sure enough, all the classy descriptors fit. I’m full-bodied and sweet, with high levels of residual sugar ready to be unleashed.

But don’t underestimate my undercurrent of acidity. My sarcasm is subtle but ripe, and it will cut through with clarity and confidence at just the right moment. I’m strong and lush (not to be confused with a lush), and I can make your knees weak and your head swim. I’m complex (just ask my husband and AP students — I confound them all), and I’m earthy (consider my love of Chaucer and four-letter words), and believe me, I’m far more palatable if I’m allowed to breathe a bit here and there.

So, yes, I am a mama of AMA. But just like blue jeans, cast iron skillets, and fine wine, I am better with some age on me. So go ahead, put a stamp on me — a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or a Levi patch or a fine French label. I see your metaphors, and I raise them. I transcend them. Motherhood is ageless and limitless. It is powerful, miraculous, metaphysical, and absolutely the most important and perfect thing I’ve ever done.

Motherhood is a category all by itself.

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