Part 4 Of A 4 Part Series On Midlife Motherhood!
Ready for a baby | Picture-perfect pregnancies
Feedback & finances | Midlife mothering
Bifocals and babies?
Aches, pains and the rigors of pregnancy aside, the one thing older mothers seem to worry about most is how their age will affect their children in the years to come. Rest assured, moms: Age has absolutely no bearing on your child-rearing ability, nor will your children be any more embarrassed about you than any other children are about their parents. To them, you will always be "mom" and "dad," and what you may give up in energy levels you will more than make up for in expanded interests and abilities.
Age has its virtues, and the most important one is maturity and selflessness. Sandra says, "I am a lot more prepared than I would have been in my twenties. I believe it has been to my advantage having children later in life, because I have lived a full life, and I am more than ready to make the necessary sacrifices a parent has to make. I am more mature now than I was in my twenties, less selfish and less self-centered. And, let's face it, parenting is all about not being into self."
"I tell my 'old' moms that I was 38 when my daughter was born, and that, yes, now at 41 I am tired working more than full time and running around after a very energetic 3-1/2 year old," says M Kelly Shanahan, an Ob/Gyn and author of Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide (Prima). "But it is the most satisfying and rewarding thing I have ever done in my life."
Don't get me wrong, it won't be easy and your age will matter at first. You'll be tired -- probably very tired at the beginning -- especially if you have a colicky baby as I did. Beatrice confirms this when she says, "More life experience and maturity does not help the first few months when you are sleep deprived to the max." However, we have the perspective to realize this is simple one stage of life, and a short one at that.
I'm not her grandma!
As the children grow, many mothers worry that they will be much older than other parents. Charlotte says, "Once my younger children start elementary school, I expect to be one of the older parents in their classes." She continues, "I'm hoping that our ages won't be too much of a factor for our children in the next few years. I will not, however, be surprised or offended if I'm mistaken for Grandma one of these days."
While you may indeed be one of the oldest parents, you may be surprised to find you are not alone. There are not only other parents my age in my son's preschool class, but there are many grandparents there as well.
"The great thing about parenting later in life is that you've got a lot of life experience under your belt," says Ann Douglas, the mother of four and the author of several books including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (Wiley). "Little things, like having your toddler throw a tantrum in the grocery store, are less likely to faze you than they might have when you were younger. After all, as you get older, you stop caring as much about what other people think -- something that can be a decided asset when you're doing your tour of duty through toddlerhood!"
Having a child in your 40s is not fraught with as many dangers and problems as people would you believe. As I discovered -- and you will too -- these naysayers are almost always wrong. I had a healthy pregnancy and an easy delivery. I survived the first colicky months, chased a toddler with only a minimum of creaking knees.
Without a doubt, being a pregnant woman at 40 and having a child at my "advanced" age brought me more satisfaction than anything else could possibly have done. Like me, you will feel complete joy in watching your child master his world... even if you need to take an aspirin to keep up.