I might be crucified for saying this. I’m 43 and I had a baby almost a year ago. Here’s what I discovered: it’s not that hard.
Two years ago I would have wanted to read this article. Sitting on the couch, eating chocolate peanut butter Haagan Daas out of the carton, wondering if I had what it took to be a mom at my age. Or as I now like to call it, a later mom. Not only was I grappling with the fear of possibly having a child with a disability or a miscarriage, but I was absolutely petrified that having a kid was going to completely rock my world (and not in the good way).
I believed I was too set in my ways. Too selfish. I didn’t have the motherly instinct. I’m not maternal. I won’t know what the f*** I’m doing. I must be totally crazy to think I should pursue this at my age. Thank God that the Universe did not listen to that BS. I got pregnant at 42 with my first child. [First and only – no way I’m going through pregnancy again.]
The pregnancy was not “difficult” so to speak, but I did suffer. I was nauseous the whole time and found it really hard to keep food down. The whole time. I was hopelessly addicted to high fructose corn syrup and vegetables became vile. I was already considering myself a bad mom because I wasn’t eating all whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables all day and night. If I can’t even be selfless enough to eat well with a baby growing in me, I’m totally screwed as a mother. Or more accurately, that kid is screwed.
Now I have to go through labor (never have I been more scared of anything in my life) and the newborn stage when I’ll get no sleep and will surely have postpartum depression. Oh crap; I have bitten off way more than I can chew! What the hell was I thinking?!?
Fast forward 10 months. I’m sitting in the living room floor, playing with my sweet little baby while one of my sweet little pugs lumbers by. This is so much better than a regular job. I have had some shit jobs. Jobs with long hours, making crap money, on my feet all day and with no pay-off. This is so different. This is so much easier. This is fun. And I can’t help but think… why does everyone think this is so hard?
I read a few books, googled stuff, talked to my friends who are moms… I imagine that’s what every gal does when she learns she’s pregnant. I did nothing out of the ordinary in preparing for motherhood. I most certainly was not born with a maternal instinct of any distinction. So why is it different for me? What makes me good at it?
The short answer is who knows. I suppose there could be a few factors that play into this unusual point of view.
One reason could be that I lived 42 years before taking the dive into parenthood. I’ve seen many people do it before me. Some great ideas and some really, really, dangerously bad. Another reason? I’ve worked in the field of developmental disabilities for 20 years of my life and I’ve seen up close and personal what a true parenting challenge is.
Or perhaps I feel this way because I have the benefit of well-earned laugh lines and sun spots. Now, at 40-something, I don’t get too rattled by things anymore. I don’t really care if milk spills on the couch or if my boobs never return to their original shape (which they likely won’t). I don’t get too bent out of shape if the neighbors don’t approve of my parenting style. Things that don’t matter, don’t matter. Not anymore. It’s incredibly liberating to not have to keep up with the Joneses ever again. I’ve also had my fun and sewed some oats. I don’t have to wonder what my life would have been like if I’d traveled in Asia during my 20’s or lived in a van for a year to make movies. I was able to live out some dreams before raising a child of my own.
But at the end of the day, I believe this is easier for me because of my age, as opposed to in spite of it. I didn’t have kids at the typical time or stage of life, so it stands to reason that my experience would also be atypical. But more importantly, being an older/later mom affords me the tremendous advantage of perspective. That’s where us later moms have it all over the younger ones. Yes they have lovely, tight butts, but we have grit. And a great sense of humor about our huge asses and saggy under-eye skin.
I’m not about to profess to be a parenting expert or even a great mom. I can just tell you that I’m a calm mom. And from what I can tell from the many mom blogs out there, it’s not that easy to do.
People keep saying to me, “oh just wait until ‘fill-in-the-blank’ happens. Then you’ll understand.” And then that thing happens. And it’s still fun. I’m still enjoying it and it doesn’t feel like work. What the what??
Some of you may read this and scoff, thinking I’m a rookie and don’t know what I’m talking about. You could very well be right on the money. But what if I am right? Or at least convincing and encouraging? That’s not such a bad thing, right?
And while I, again, am no authority, I do think I’ve figured out a few things from speaking with other later moms and by listening and following their leads. I’ve put together a list of tips that will definitely be useful – and slightly unconventional – for brand new or soon to be moms. You can get it simply by signing up as a subscriber. You can do that at the bottom of this page or on the home page.
If you are an old, aka later mom like me (or thinking of becoming one), don’t freak out. Even if you feel like this mothering thing might not be for you. The simple fact that you made it this far in life and are still the slightest bit interested in being a mom speaks volumes. If you’re like me and the many other moms who did it later, you’re gonna see that later is better in so many ways and this was the exact right time to become a parent. Go ahead, girl.