I have two babies under two years of age and will be turning 41 this year. This is perfectly okay and normal … except it’s not. Biologically, physically, mentally, and emotionally, we older moms are just like our younger counterparts. But sometimes, it seems to me, that older moms are their own worst enemy when it comes to stigmatizing “delayed childbearing.”
First of all, let me say this: Guilty as charged. I know older moms have a tendency to joke about how old they are because I’ve done it myself—way more than once or twice. I suppose it makes sense: a new acquaintance is asking about your children and you see their face unmistakably grimace a bit when they find out just how young your babies are. So, as opposed to making someone uncomfortable for having said reaction or wanting to ask a wealth of questions, I go ahead and make a joke about being an older mom or I volunteer an explanation: “Yes, my husband and I wanted to get everything just right before we had children.” “My children are so close together in age because I was running out of time.” “I hope their friends don’t mistake me for their grandmother.” “Yes, I’ll be the oldest lady at the PTA meeting.” “They will probably have to bring me in from the old folks’ home to watch them walk at graduation.”
Of course, we all know that having children at 38 and 40 is not that crazy and dramatic. But the fact of the matter is, the world is still getting used to it. My mother’s generation wouldn’t dream of any family plan other than being done with childbearing before the age of 30. But now the range is a lot wider—I have high school friends with children starting college, and I have other high school friends who are pregnant.
Now, before the peanut gallery gets going about how becoming a mom at 20 and becoming a mom at 40 are different experiences, let me just say that I totally agree. Some might argue that you have more energy when you’re younger. Some might say older moms have more wisdom and maturity. And the jury is still out on which generation has more patience—younger moms might win when it comes to spontaneity and going with the flow since their habits haven’t festered an additional 20 years before having babies; but older moms might have a little more perspective and life experience to help keep them calm and centered.
And, of course, I am aware of the health risks that come with “geriatric pregnancy”—yes, that is the actual medical term—but people’s life journeys and family plans are their own decisions and their own private business, and they shouldn’t have to justify or explain it to anyone, ever.
So, here’s what we need to do, older moms. Stop apologizing. Stop acknowledging the elephant in the room. Yes, you are an older mom. Big deal.
Don’t feel like you have to clarify anything or elaborate on any of your decisions. When we point out how “strange” it is to be an older mom to someone else, we are teaching them that this is a rare and weird thing that needs to be explained. So, basically, older mommas, it’s time for us to just shut up!