I recently got a request from a well known publication to write a short piece on older motherhood. I have responded to enough of these kinds of requests in the past to know they aren’t really looking for illumination. They are looking for inflammation. They are looking to stir up women who have (for whatever reason) delayed motherhood against those who have not, which creates drama, which creates traffic. But not illumination.
So I decided I would just skip all that and lay out the truth about older motherhood as I see it, right here. It doesn’t mean what I’m saying is universally true, it just means this is how I see it based on my own experience and world view.
You may be surprised to find that the truth about older motherhood, as I see it, is that it ain’t ideal.
It’s a blessing.
I’m glad I didn’t miss out on it.
Better late than never…
But ideal it is not.
I didn’t really choose to be a late-in-life mother, that’s just sort of how the chips fell for me. If I had the chance to do it over again, and I had a choice in the matter, I would have started my family much much sooner — if for no other reason than I would have liked for Sean to have known me when I still looked like myself. And given the benefit of time, I might have liked to have had another.
The truth is that there are ups and down, pros and cons, no matter when you have children, whether at 24 or at 44 as I did. But in hindsight, and as I look around, 24 seems a more ideal scenario than 44, if I am to be honest.
Why? Maybe because younger motherhood is more in keeping with the harmony of the universe. Fertility belongs to the young, it always has, even though thanks to modern medicine we can now prop that window open longer. All the same, having children younger rather than older increases the odds (although does not guarantee) that you will have healthy children, that you will live to see them grown and that you will get to enjoy grandchildren. And obviously reaping the benefit of those odds is more ideal than not, and who doesn’t like better odds?
But mostly what makes 24 more ideal than 44 is those extra 20 years of being a mom that you might get, that I won’t get. There’s nothing I did from age 24 to 44 that I wouldn’t trade double to get more time with my kiddo, even on the worst of days.
But it’s not even about what’s ideal for me right now. It’s about what’s ideal later for Sean, when under the very best of circumstances, age will catch up with me. Health issues are inevitable as we age, let’s not pretend otherwise. And when Sean is a young man, when he is in that exciting season of getting his life started, he will be stuck dealing with the complicated issues that go along with aging parents (if we’re still around), issues that AD and I are just now having to address with our own parents. That’s part of the less than ideal package of late-in-life parenthood that they never talk about.
Better late than never, but in my view, better is not so late — better for both mother and child.