When I was in my 20s, I didn’t stop to think much about what life and motherhood would hold in my 40s. I’m 48 now, and truth be told, my 20s are a bit of a blur. I was focused on career, relationships and having fun. I didn’t waste time wondering what I’d be doing at midlife. Because that was far in the future. And because 40-something was, well, old.
If 20-something me could take a peek into the future and see what life looked like heading toward 50, I doubt she’d have listed “parenting toddlers” as something she’d be doing. But, that’s just what I’m doing. I’m now one of those “older moms.” I’m the oldest mom on the playground, at preschool, at the pediatrician, the grocery store, and, well, pretty much everywhere. I am always the oldest mom with the youngest kid.
It doesn’t matter that I might be able to run circles around some of the young moms (or at least keep up with them). It doesn’t matter that my clothes are stylish or that I don’t have a visible gray hair. I am the oldest, and I’m far past the age where being the oldest is cool.
We’ve all heard young moms say things like, “I want to be a young mom so my kids and I can grow up together” or “I want my kids to be young when I’m young.”
But, things like, “I want to have little kids when I’m in the throes of menopause so they can interrupt the sleep I desperately need at my age to keep me from looking like a hag in the morning” are said by no one ever.
While this may not have been in my plans when I was in my 20s, life took some twists and turns that led me down this path.
Here are some advantages to being that older parent:
Show me the money
While we’re not exactly rolling in money, we’re financially stable. Extreme penny-pinching and living paycheck-to-paycheck are in the past. But man, am I ever tired.
I don’t stress over whether I’m doing something right and sometimes, age and experience bring more patience in parenting. I want to emphasize the sometimes part. My kid ate dirt? Peed in the tub? Are not potty trained at 2? Doesn’t know all of his colors at 4? Well, I can probably still sleep at night. Mostly because I pass out from sheer exhaustion. (Let’s be real.)
My 40-something confidence comes from maturity and life experience. I don’t have time (or energy) to care what other people think. I’m not easily intimidated by doctors or teachers and don’t accept the canned “this is the way things are” line. I’m happy to be that mom who unashamedly advocates for her child’s interest. I’m not afraid of ruffling feathers. I couldn’t have done that in my 20s.
Appreciating the small moment
As an older mother, I find humor in things that would have bugged me in my 20s: messy rooms, dirty faces, underpants on the floor, underpants on the door knob, leaving the house not dressed like an ad for Gap. I’m able to take time to appreciate just how rich my life really is. At this age and place and this time in my life, my two young boys are a gift. They manage to keep me young while giving me gray hair. I’m thankful for each moment I have — and also thankful for Nice ‘n Easy.
At 48, I know who I am and I know what’s important
I’m able to relish the moment I’m living in and make the most of it. I also know what’s less important, such as stewing over what people say or being picture perfect. The most important lesson I’ve learned as being the older mom is to allow myself to seize the moment and allow life to be just a little bit unpredictable. If someone would have asked me to draw a picture of midlife when I was a younger woman, that picture wouldn’t have included becoming a mom again at 45.
Learning how to let go and enjoy the surprises life has thrown my way is inexplicably sweet. Tiring, but sweet.
Jill Robbins writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and children, but it hasn’t really helped so far. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.
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