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Older Moms: Experience over Energy

P2149944I did not choose to be an older mom. No. In my plans for the future, I would marry in my mid-20s and have my first child before 30.

A funny thing happened along the way. It's called reality. The truth is, I passed my 30th birthday still single. A husband - heck, even a boyfriend - was nowhere in sight.

My mother told me around this time she'd given up on ever having grandchildren. Which I found very encouraging. But maybe she had a point.

The career I chose kept me traveling around the country and working weekend nights. It also gave me an easy excuse for why I wasn't meeting anyone. I wasn't entirely depressed about it. Just somewhat. 

And then I met my future husband on a layover in the airport in Atlanta in 1999. I was moving from South Florida to Orange County for a job. He was returning home from a business trip. We were married 2 1/2 years later. Two years after that - two weeks before my 35th birthday - I had my first child. 

My next child arrived 21 months after that, and yes, I was considered "advanced maternal age." My last baby, well, let's just say that old joke about how it could be worse, you could be 40 AND pregnant? Yeah. I was both.

So while I'm not an older mom by some standards (I'm talking about you, Hollywood!), I still feel my age. I'm the oldest among my friends from my mom's group. I'm right up there in age amidst the moms of my eldest son's kindergarten classmates. By the time my youngest is in kindergarten in four years, I'm guessing I will win that title.

There are definitely times where this really hurts. When my youngest is the age I am now, I will be in my 80s. What will I be like then? I try to eat (relatively) healthy and to exercise, because I want to be around as long as possible. I will not have the chance that some of my (younger) friends will to possibly see great-grandchildren, unless my kids start super-early, which isn't necessarily so great. It's simple math. But I feel I owe it to my children to stay active. It's not their fault they're stuck with old folks.

I freely admit that those moms who are in their 20s have more energy. I mean, I can run the bases and play soccer and keep up during tag. But I have my limits. Younger moms probably love - or at last have the patience - to play dolls and cars and endless games of Candyland and whatever else their kids want to do. Things that frankly bore me to tears and which I try to avoid, if possible. Don't judge, until you've played two straight hours of My Little Pony. 

Young moms also know that when they are my age their kids will be teenagers or even in college. They'll get to enjoy time with their husbands while they are still relatively young, while my husband and possibly me will be working til our youngest is out of college (circa 2030) and we are well into our 60s.

But I can't change things. I can't call a do-over. I wouldn't want to, because everything that led me here also gave me the three exact kids that I got. And I wouldn't trade them for anything (well, most days, anyway), including a gravity-defying bustline or smoother skin where my laugh wrinkles reside.

There is no right or wrong age to have a child. It's what works for you, what opportunities life has given you. It doesn't always go according to plan, but neither does motherhood. We learn to expect the unexpected.

What I lack in youth I make up for in experience. My kids will benefit from having a mother who truly lived life before them, even if they don't believe I existed before their appearance. I traveled. I worked. I loved. I lost. I made lots of mistakes. I lived alone. For more than a decade. 

You learn a lot when you're by yourself: how to be independent, how to be your own advocate, your own best friend. You discover can be very good company, and that sometimes you're awful.

 The more you know about yourself, the more you have to give your children. I don't need to live my life through them. I've already lived mine, and I'm too tired to do it again!

And I'm guessing when those young moms are in their 40s, listening to the quiet of their almost-empty nest, they will wonder how us old ladies ever got it done.

This is an original OC Moms Blog post by Cheryl Rosenberg, who reminds us that we're all in this Mommy stuff together at SpecialSauce in the House.


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