Are You TOO Old to Be a MOM? Take the Poll
When my twins started kindergarten, I befriended a woman 14 years my senior, who also had a child just starting school. I remember thinking then, how strange it must feel to be raising a child not much past a toddler, while in your 40’s. Wasn’t parenting designed for the young at heart, the newlyweds in their 20’s, the hodge-podge of premenopausal 20 or 30ish aged women in the prime of their fertility years who were pursuing parenthood over careers?
I also pondered the fact that she would be at least 60 something before her daughter got out of college and wondered if she felt odd among all the ‘young’ moms at kindergarten round up. In my book, at that time, I was thinking… wow, she’s old.
In a strange turn of ironic events, here I sit; one day passed my 40th birthday with a child who has not even started kindergarten yet. And I will be at least 60 before she gets out of college. And compared to most of the other people I know with a 3 year old, I am at least a decade older. Zoiks!
It’s strange really. At 26, when I had my first children, I can remember looking at 40-year-old moms of middle-schoolers with a deliberate sort of jealousy and awe. They were settling back into their own lives, were able to have a life detached from the planning of packing a diaper bag just to go grocery shopping, and were no longer lopsided from carrying a baby on their hip. Seeing them driving convertibles without car seats was similar to being a freshman in high school star struck by the seniors. “I’ll be there one day,” I can remember thinking.
And now that I am there, (or here) – I still don’t have the convertible (duh, where would the kids sit). And while I don’t lug a diaper bag around anymore, I do still have that lopsided swagger from lurching a four year old everywhere I go. And most of my current friends (with teenagers) mind you, have no real remembrance of what it is like to have a toddler anymore. This makes lunch dates at posh places and weekend long girls’ night out plans sort of hard to participate in at times.
On the flip side, being older than the other moms (by at least a decade) at most events geared towards toddlers is sort of unsettling too. I always feel like people are wondering if I am the grandmother (no one has asked me yet thank goodness), or wondering if I am one of those people making a career out of having children till menopause. I get some weird looks, and sometimes feel like I don’t fit in with the 20 something moms who have no real remembrance of the 1980’s. (And how could they; they were like 4 or 5 years old at best).
All of that leaves this 40-year-old mother sort of lost between worlds of motherhood, but in a beautiful place that enables me to put many things in my life in perspective.
The real point is this. There is no perfect or ideal time to be a mother. It doesn’t matter if you are 22, 35, or 47. It isn’t age (or even readiness, maturity, or desire) that prepares us for the maternal journey; it is love. I know women who became mothers at 18, who have turned out to be fabulous moms. There are others, who waited till they were 35 (or older) – who suck at being a mom, and plenty more in all the ages between that seem to be getting along just fine.
So, I want to know – what do you really think of moms raising ‘littles’ (very young children) in their 40’s? And how many of you are doing it? Is it harder or easier than you thought? In your opinion, does maternal age really play a factor in the quality of your mothering? If so, how and why? And if you are a mom over 40, how do you bridge the generational gap with other moms you meet that are much younger than you are?
What is the most important ‘mom’ accessory, besides the newborn?
A diaper bag, of course! And the funny thing is that sizing up a mom’s diaper bag can give away a lot about what kind of mom she is. So which one are you?
The first type of Diaper Bag mom is the Vera Bradley kind. These moms don’t just have a diaper bag, but a diaper bag ensemble, complete with wallet and matching changing pads. The bags are usually loud and proud, in pretty pinks (for a girl) or bold blues (for the little man). Some are even monogrammed! What’s inside these massive bags heavier than the babies themselves? As the old saying goes, “Everything but the kitchen sink.” And really, with hand sanitizer being what it is these days – who needs a kitchen sink anymore?
When you see the Vera Bradley (or knock off) Diaper bag mom, you can rest assured that she has everything for every emergency, big and small, that likely will never happen in the life of a child. Her assortment is so complete, she even has the little gadget designed to mimic a baby’s esophagus, which tells you what is and what isn’t a choking hazard. If you ever run out of wipes, need a band-aid, could use a toy to distract a fussy baby, or a few tips on parenthood (because she keeps books in there too), she is the one to ask! She doesn’t just carry a change of clothes; she carries a wardrobe because well… you never know when your child will have a photo op! (Yep, a camera is in there too).
While her preparedness is anything but casual, you can literally bet she is the kind of mom that worries A LOT, is over protective, quite the germaphobe, probably a first time mom, and definitely raising her kids by the latest and greatest parenting book ever published.
Next up is the Hospital Issued Diaper Bag Mom. She probably has at least one child already and realized that the free bag is just as good as any other money could buy. Her bag has the essentials – wipes, diapers, perhaps an extra pacifier, some formula, and maybe even an infant sized bottle of Tylenol. Her baby is the one riding in the stroller without socks, chewing on the rubber tip from the Tylenol bottle because she has learned that IT is the best teething toy ever. (Besides a Blow-Pop of course… and she likely has one of those too!) She may or may not have remembered an extra outfit, likely has a onesie, which may or may not fit anymore – and is more prone to distracting her baby with car keys than a full-fledged toy.
This mom is likely confident, has loosened up quite a bit, and realizes that not all germs can be combated with hand washing and sanitizer. Her common sense, laid back, and effective approach at parenthood makes her easy to be around, and you never have to worry about debating the latest parenting methods or feeling inadequate in her presence.
Last, and certainly not least, is the NO Diaper Bag Mom! Chances are the baby she has with her now is the result of one of those ‘unplanned pregnancies’ nobody warns married people about. She isn’t worried about leaving the house without an armory of items, and keeps extra diapers and wipes in the car for good measure. She changes her baby on her lap, no matter where she is, probably carries him or her in a sling to avoid the nuisance of strangers stopping her to talk about her baby, AND believes that if something doesn’t fit in her purse… well, she just doesn’t need it. The last pictures she has of her baby came from the hospital, and her baby is likely one of the most content, versatile, and flexible babies on the planet. You will see her out with her baby during naptimes, late in the evening, or even early in the morning, and her schedule is anything but routine. Her no nonsense, no fuss approach to having children may find her without a band-aid from time to time, but she knows her chances of running into a Vera Bradley Diaper Bag mom are pretty high, so she doesn’t worry about the small stuff. At least not anymore!
Of course, there are lots of moms hanging on to the “Vera Bradley” way of motherhood that are slowly but surely creeping towards donating their prized diaper bag to the nearest thrift store they can find. And the truth is, not only is there room for all of these moms, but life requires them – they each have something to teach us. So, which one are you?