I had my first baby at age 39, and my second at just shy of age 41. That makes me an older mama. As medical professionals put it, I was of “advanced maternal age.”
Do I regret not having my children at an earlier age?
If I do have any regret about waiting to have children, they are mainly related to time. Fewer of my years on this earth will have been spent as a mother. Being a mom is awesome, so perhaps I have cheated myself out of extra enjoyment.
This is actually a world-wide trend. As the average age of motherhood goes up, it results in a smaller portion of the living populace being mothers at all. Can’t you just see the headline: “Worldwide mother shortage looming!”
I feel bad for also cheating my parents out of grandparent time as well. They having been making plans for grandparenthood for decades, putting away favorite toys from my childhood in expectations to share them with my and my sister’s kids one day.
Already my own health and strength are not what they were ten years ago. The fatigue from midnight wake-up calls is really hard to recover from. I keep reminding myself this is an excellent reason to take extra care of my body. But when you are almost always running on fumes, both working out and eating healthy are really tough to stick to.
So much for the regrets. There are plenty of advantages to balance them out.
If I had had babies in my early twenties, parenthood probably wouldn’t have been as much fun as it is to me now. I am past my partying years, I have my career figured out (mostly) and I have a lot more patience.
So there’s no resentment that the babies hold me back from enjoying grown-up activities like going out dancing, or to movies, or to nice restaurants, or shopping for clothes, or going on spur-of-the-moment weekend camping trips. And so on.
Instead, I glory in the time I can spend with my little ones. I delight in both the adorable and the icky things. Like just this morning, I picked up my daughter from her crib and she puked all over me. I was just proud of the fact I managed to aim her in the direction of the bare floor instead of the area rug.
After cleaning both of us up, we cuddled in my bed and sang songs and read storybooks. I find it amazing how quickly she can bounce back from things. Does she get it from me? I don’t know.
In the years leading up to getting pregnant, I had a lot of anxiety that I might never get to have children. It wasn’t because I couldn’t, we just put off trying because our lives were really complicated. There was a constant background dread that I could never shake off.
Once I got pregnant, that aching sadness was lifted, and I have been a different person from that moment on. Family members have even mentioned that they notice I’m mellower since having kids.
One might say that I have found my purpose in life, as a mother. But I don’t think that is it.
Before I had children, I often felt like there were all these different pieces of my life that had no connection to each other. There were my creative pursuits – music, art, film. There was my connection to family. There was work and pursuing a career. But each piece stayed in its own lane. One doesn’t bring a euphonium to the office, for example.
Motherhood has become a thread that draws all the pieces together into one whole unit. I am so proud of my kids, I can’t help but share stories about them with everyone I meet. At the same time, I find that parenting demands all of my skills and talents in some way or another. So there’s no holding back any part of myself from sharing it with my kids.
Would I have found this to be the case if I had become a mother much earlier? I don’t think so. More likely, I would have fallen into the trap of making motherhood my identity, and missing the chance to develop the other parts of myself that make up the whole.