Then I posted a link to a short piece I wrote about it on Facebook and as might be expected when you toss out even a teensy pinch of fresh chum upon the waves of cyberness, it wasn’t long before the boat was surrounded with opinionated voices from both sides of the subject
So some Facebook friends and I ended up briefly engaged in a thoughtful and interesting discussion (on Facebook? I know…rare, huh?!) about just how old is too old when it comes to parenting a baby.
One or two shared their belief that someone as old as Martin might be doing a giant disservice to their child simply by being way closer to their time of death than most parents, who have children when they are typically considered young or middle-aged.
The other side seemed more convinced that it wasn’t really our place to judge how others live their lives, especially when it comes to something as personal and monumental as having a child. And granted, the fact that Steve Martin is pretty wealthy and could likely have a comprehensive net of insurance policies and trust funds set up doesn’t hurt his particular case, but still.
How old is too old to become a mom or dad to a new baby?
And who amongst us is really qualified to lay down the law when it comes to that question?
I don’t feel like I am.
But I’m not letting that stop me!
See, as a daddy myself, and a man who grew up for a really long time without a father around to love me, I have to come out on the side of older parents here.
How can you dare even think that it’s okay for people almost 70 years old to be cranking out kids? They’re gonna croak over a dirty diaper!
Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I know. Just give me a second though, okay?
There is no doubt that having a parent around in your life makes a whole hell of a lot of difference when you are a child. And having two of them, moms/dads/one of each/two of one, is even better. Truth is, when you break it all down, the most important thing in the experience of life, the absolute most critical sentence that is written in the story of anyone’s time here on Earth is probably this:
They were really truly loved by their parents.
They were not really truly loved by their parents.
Dig deep, deep down into the bowels of the fates of any man or woman who has ever made history or made waves or made love or made lasagne and their tale is inevitably linked somehow to the love they knew when they were children, the love that came from their parents.
Now, I suppose me saying that isn’t as heavy a water-balloon as if some so-called expert (Dr. Phil, anyone?) says it, but like you, I’ve been around the proverbial block once or twice in my 41 years and I think I understand a good bit about what it means to know love, to feel it shooting out of someone into my bones like a Love Laser pumping me full of the good stuff.
Hell, even now, long after I held my sweet Mom-Mom’s hand and stroked that tarnished gummed-up ring made out of a bent spoon she wore on her finger every day I ever knew her, even now, many years after I squeezed her soft warm hand in the hospital room that I can still smell like it was three minutes ago, even now all this time after the moment that I leaned over and whispered, “I love you, Mom-Mom,” into her ear; even now: I know that I still feel the love she was only able to give me for 16 years of actual life, still slamming down through space and time into my chest and my heart without reserve.
She still loves me, dude.
And hardcore, too.
And I feel it all of the time.
Likewise, I know what if feels like when there is that sad windy void blowing down through my guts where a missing living parent should have been inflating the low tires of my snot-nosed soul with kindness and caring and wisdom. With anything they could spare, really. I’m no sob story and I don’t feel like I deserved anything more than any other 9 year old kid, but man0oh-man, I would have taken anything, even just a one-minute phone call in the middle of the night; just a little something, some distant spark of love in the dark at some point during a ridiculously confusing twenty-some years would have been nice.
I got more love from a dead Mom-Mom than from an MIA runaway parent. That’s life, pun intended.
My point is this.
People who are old and decide to have kids might make us cringe inside. And after a couple of beers or down in the drafty tunnels of internet commenting, we might be so inclined to speak our minds in the name of love.
“I feel bad for that child,” we say, a confidence in our voice. “That old coot will be pushing up daisies long before the kid gets to high school. They’ll never have that parent there to see them make the varsity squad or to cry at their college graduation or to dance with them at their wedding.”
Which, hey, that may all be true.
But, still, that kid got born. And if they knew the love of their parents from a very young age, if they knew they were loved, if they felt that damn Laser filling them up when everyone in the picture was still alive and kicking, then, if you ask me, they are gonna still be feeling it for the rest of their lives, no matter how far mom or dad has to move away from them someday.
Yeah, I know, there may be obstacles along the way for the kid. To be perfectly honest, there will probably be some bumpy-ass roads to go down. But at least they won’t be traveled wondering all the time why they weren’t loved by a mom or dad who just failed them in the worst possible way.
And that says a lot about how old is too old to be a parent, if you think about it.
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