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Love and Hate

The ups, downs and overall delights of parenthood
Jun 9, 2010
10:56 AM

I Hate Being an Old Mom

I never intended to be a parent of young children at this age, but fate has its own plans – not to mention a sense of humor

I Hate Being an Old Mom

Maybe it's because I was never much of a joiner that I find myself in this rare club: The Old Mom Club.

When my friends and sisters started having babies, I went off to college and a career. I even went as far as living in Tokyo from the ages of 26 through 30, where I couldn't hear their biological clocks ticking or catch the pregnancy bug (it seems to spread like a virus, doesn't it?).

Honestly I didn't even consider wanting kids till I was married and had attained the grand old age of 36. At that point my biological clock suddenly hammered like Big Ben. I had no idea it would take more years of trying and fertility treatments and then the long winding road of international adoption before I could finally be a mommy.

A month and a half later, I turned 40. My sister, just one year older than I, became a grandmother that same year.

Of course I'll never forget the time I first heard the hideous G-word directed my way. At a grocery store the produce guy asked me cheerfully, "Is that your grandbaby?"

"No," I managed to choke out, as I burned rubber, racing my shopping cart to the next aisle. I was crestfallen. I'd always been told I looked young. And I'd only had my daughter a short while then, so I didn't have any gray hair yet.

So I tried to intellectualize my way out of it. Maybe he thought because I am a freckly blonde I couldn't have a dark-haired, dark-eyed child? But I could feasibly (by ciphering the genetic fractions on two hands) be the grandmother. Yup, I decided, that must have been why he asked.

But after the second and third time strangers popped the dreaded Grandma Question, I had to give in to the truth my husband sprang on me when I went to him for comfort. "Well, you are old enough to be her grandmother," he laughed.

Husbands are so helpful.

So we have accepted the undeniable – we're kinda on the old side for parents of elementary school kids. We get tired too soon, don't utter new-fangled words like "awesome" comfortably, and have orthopedic surgeons on our speed dial. My husband worries about how we'll combine our retirement years with their college expenses. I fear that my, um, "hormonal transition" shall we say, is going to hit right about the same time as my girls hit their teens, making for a dangerous hormonal cocktail under our roof.

And while I would love to put a whole plastic surgery team together to make me a younger-looking mom for my girls, there's simply no time for such silliness. Promoting longevity, keeping an open mind and maintaining a great sense of humor are going to be the keys to my parental sanity.

And most importantly, I can put up with the rude questions and desperately long, tired days because I know I'd so much rather be an old mom than never a mom at all.

Old to new | New to old
Jun 9, 2010 02:26 pm
 Posted by  catstarclimber

I have had the opposite problem. I'm 31 and had my son at 24. I once got a teenage mom lecture at the mall. When I was pregnant, peoples eyes would widen when they saw me and their eyes would immediately fall to my left hand. I was asked if I was the babysitter or the favorite aunt. And, I'm convinced that my neighbor thinks that I'm some girl who got knocked up with the way that he talks down to me. My other neighbor actually admitted that he thought that I was much younger.
People are ignorant and think that they can say whatever they want to. Unfortunately, this will never change.

Jun 9, 2010 02:50 pm
 Posted by  greenconomom

I was a first time mother at 42 and if I had a dollar for every fool who referred to me as my son's grandmother, his college education would be paid for. I really don't mind it, however. I am a much more confident mother with so much life experience under my belt and quite enjoy correcting the offenders. The looks on their faces is priceless.

Jun 9, 2010 03:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I love your comments! Same story here...we have two adopted kids, both in first grade...and I'm 50!!! I'd add that along with the getting tired too soon and the not knowing the popular radio stations, we have the wisdom and calmness and patience that comes with maturity!! There are so many things that just don't drive me crazy that probably would have if I were a parent in my late 20's!!! And, like you, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! Being "Mom" to my kids is truly one of the biggest joys in my life!

Jun 9, 2010 08:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Hilarious. I laughed out loud at your husband's response. We are never who we want to be, or our kids want us to be. But I suppose we are who we SHOULD be. You gain calm with age, I believe.

Jun 17, 2010 10:53 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I became a first time mom at age 39 so I loved your story. But I had my daughter in NYC and moved back to Michigan when she was a toddler. NYC had a lot more of us "old moms" who worked long careers so it was not so unusual and 40 was not considered "old". Let's bring that outlook to Michigan too!

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