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The Pros and Cons of Being an Older Mom

older-momI’ll admit to a good bit of resistance to thinking of myself as an “older mom.” Yes, I had my kids at 34 and 37, but in the crowd I hang with that’s not especially old. Just about everyone waited until their 30s to have kids, and the vast majority of people I know had one of more of their kids after 35, and a few were 40 or older.

So this article about waiting to become a parent tickled me a little bit. Its tone was pretty awestruck that someone quite so elderly as 35 or even older could even think about attempting parenthood and that it must be so remarkably different for those of us that do than it is for people that are in their 20s. I’m suspecting the writer is pretty young — and I’m really not offended, I was that young reporter thinking people in their 30s were old and 40s were practically retirement age. This is also a small-town paper, and I find that in small towns you really would stick out like a sore thumb as an over-35 parent.

And honestly, the only time it’s bugged me to be an “older mom” is when someone my own age refers to herself that way. Because it’s much more unusual in my circles to have kids in your 20s than in your 30s, I never feel strange. At my kids’ preschool I was right around the same age as most of the other parents and younger than many; at my daughter’s very urban elementary school I’m older than lots of the moms but still quite a bit younger than the grandmothers, so again, it’s all good. And I’m not one of those people who put off childbirth thinking that the rule that fertility declines with age doesn’t apply to them. I met my husband at 27, we got married when I was 30, enjoyed being married for a year, and then started trying. Things did not go well, and it took us 2 and a half years to conceive baby #1. Luckily baby #2 came easier, but nonetheless I had just turned 37 when I found out I was pregnant.

And I mean yes, I have worries about being this age. My in-laws were the same age when they had my husband as he and I were when we had our second child, and now we’re dealing with my mother in law’s death last year after a fairly long illness and my father in law’s inexorable decline from Alzheimer’s. And when they were alive and in full possession of their faculties, they were stodgy and out–of-touch in a way I hope to avoid with my own kids. They were great grandparents, though, and my younger son will have no memory of them, which makes me sad.

On the other hand, I know I am a much better mother than I would have been had I had my kids ten years earlier. I’m more mature, less self-involved, and considerably less judgmental and more open than I once was. I still hate when my kids wake me up at 6:30 am on a Saturday, but I don’t consider it a personal affront as I may have if I were younger. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that’s how it’s been for me.

I mean, I’m a heck of a lot more conscientious about covering my grays than I would be if I were a younger mom, but generally I am proud to be an older mother. Even if I don’t think of myself that way.

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