Singing superstar Stevie Wonder is a father again — for the ninth time. The 64-year-old — yup, you read that right — and his 40-year-old girlfriend welcomed a baby daughter named Nia this month. Wonder’s brood now range in age from 1 year to 39 years old, which begs the question: Why on earth would Wonder have another child at 64?
When the child is 10 he will be 74; in the UK, that is almost 10 years past retirement age. When his child heads to college, Wonder will be knocking on the door of 84. Let’s just pretend for a moment that the ages of Wonder and his partner were reversed. Imagine if he was 40 and his pregnant 64-year-old girlfriend gave birth. There would be outrage, no doubt. Everyone would be quick to jump on the bandwagon stating that 64 is FAR too old to be birthing a child.
Why? Well because deep down, age-old sexism still occurs and society still believes that moms tend to have the primary caregiver role. We assume Wonder will be too busy making sweet music and touring around the globe to really be a hands-on dad. But we expect the mom to be young enough to mother, what with all that diaper changing and running after a toddler, planning parties and arranging play dates.
Before you wag a finger saying you think parenting is equal, take a small look in the mirror. Who does most of the organizing and mothering in your house? The other day I realized my husband has never washed a towel or bought bedding for our home. He has never planned a single party for one of our kids (replete with party bags — the bane of my life), bought the Santa stocking fillers, or cut our kids’ fingernails.
We expect more from moms than dads, which is why Wonder having a baby at 64 doesn’t cause anyone to bat an eye. But it should. I think there should be a cut-off age for dads, just as there is for moms. I think there’s a reason that women’s reproductive organs have a shelf life: We should have children younger. It is mother nature’s way of saying: “Look, you need energy and stamina to raise kids. Do it when your body can recover and your mind can handle it.” It’s tragic that women struggle to conceive in their 40s while men can procreate at almost any age, but just because men can doesn’t mean they should.
Sure, Wonder has all the money in the world to pay for nannies and help, so it won’t be him running after a group of 8-year-olds at a party when he’s 72. When he’s 84 and his daughter heads to college, it sure as heck won’t be him moving her into her dorm room. So how hands on will he be? Perhaps I’m making a harsh judgment about his parenting, but tell me this: Do you really think he’ll be the best dad he can be when his child is celebrating her 30th birthday and he’s 94? Will he be walking her down the aisle if she gets hitched at 35 and he’s 99?
Parenting is relentless and exhausting. I had my second child at 37, and often I feel shattered by the time I’ve gotten my 4-year-old and 8-year-old to bed. I don’t have the energy I had in my 20s. I need more sleep! My knees hurt! I can’t stay out partying until 2 am like I used to! And I am only 41!
So while the world congratulates Stevie and welcomes his ninth child, I ask you to think about what the papers would have said if the shoe had been on the other foot. Isn’t it time men realized there is a responsible age to have kids? Because mother nature didn’t give us ladies a choice.
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