I have as good a chance as any mom. I don’t plan to die of old age any time soon. Fatal illnesses don’t run in my family and I’m not currently addicted to anything that will kill me (not anymore:)). Freak fatal accidents occur to people of all ages and the grim reaper does not see crow’s feet when it comes to facilitating an early check out.
Lots of us ‘later moms’ have an irrational fear that we will die before our child graduates high school, including me. The facts about longevity, however, paint a very different picture. On average, a child born to a mother at age 40 would be approximately 41 when his mother passed away. In my opinion, the fear is indicative of a culture that sees motherhood as being for 20-somethings. The fear of the later moms is exacerbated by the younger moms with an ax to grind who write mean comments at the bottom of Huffington Post articles about how we’re selfish and calculating because we didn’t have the kids until we hit, as the medical community affectionately calls us, ‘advanced maternal age.’ Other names include elderly primigravida (a Latin term referring to older first-time moms) and my personal favorite, geriatric pregnancy.
There really aren’t that many women (and none that I’ve met in person) who wait until their 40s to have children simply because they wanted to work on their careers. Career-ladder climbing is not the primary driver for most. Not all of us had the good fortune of meeting the person to become our partner/baby daddy/boyfriend/husband until later in life. It didn’t make sense to have kids with someone who we didn’t want to be connected to forever. More commonly it’s a fertility issue that just takes time (and sometimes lots of money) to sort out.
The thing is this… there is a very slim chance of dying due to age-related causes before 65. So let’s all take a deep breath and slow it down a little. We need not worry about being around for our minor-aged kids when we will almost certainly live to see them hit 20 years old. I doubt a son or daughter would feel they “missed out” on having a mom or dad if that parent happened to pass 20 years into their life. And if you’re a planner (which most of you are, I’m guessing), you’re a bit more practical and you’ve made the necessary arrangements so that your elder care would not be a burden to your child/children.
The current trend is for twenty-somethings to live with or be dependent on their parents until close to age 30! That, in my opinion, is way too long and I’d venture to say the kid did not develop adequate life skills if they are still not able to manage their own lives at that age. As Gen-X’ers, we were not raised this way. We were latch-key kids who got home from school on our own, made our own snacks, were made to do chores, and did not get away with any lip. We couldn’t wait to be on our own, live independently and make our own rules. Is that so wrong?
Besides all that- let’s just say that you did take your final bow a few years early. Wouldn’t that just cause us to savor every moment we have with them? So why don’t we just do that anyway? That’s a win-win for everybody.
Having a kid late is the absolute best reason out there to start taking care of yourself (if you aren’t already, that is). I actually want to work out so I can get stronger, not just thinner. I’m more motivated to eat better so I’m not in a food coma when she wakes up from her nap. I do push-ups so I have the upper body strength to carry her heavy butt around the house and lift that 100-ton car seat. I throw her in a stroller and go for walks to increase my stamina. It’s not about looking good. But the fabulous bonus is of course that I do look good, largely because I’m focused on things other than myself. Another win-win.
Don’t fret about the things over which you have no control. Focus on the things you CAN control: your self-awareness, food intake, physicality, staying in the moment when playing with your little one. Teaching them to be the best versions of themselves and have respect for others. Think of all the things you’ve learned by watching your friends screw up their kids. [I’m kidding, but there is some truth in there.] You remember what it’s like to talk to people and not rely on texting and social media. You remember life with the internet. Even life without cable TV!
Many studies have shown that children born to older parents live in more wealthier homes, do better in school, and have happier and more stable home lives. You have vast knowledge just waiting to be shared with the fortunate little souls who have entered the world on your watch. Those are some lucky kids you have.