Confession: I feel like an old mom. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. I FEEL like a 25-year-old. But I’ll just say it: this month I turned 39. Which means I’ve begun the countdown to 40. When it comes to being a mom, statistically speaking I’m old. The average age of a first-time mom is 26. My mom got married at 19, I got married at 29. My mom had her first child (me) at 24, I had my first child at 34. Are you noticing a trend?
And let me say right here THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A 40-YR OLD MOM WITH A TODDLER. I’m yelling that at you so you hear me. That’s not what this is about.
What this IS about is that I may or may not have cried in the shower the other morning because I can’t be sure I will ever see my grandchildren graduate from high school. If my youngest waits until 37 like I did to have him, I’ll be 92 when his child graduates from high school. I hope I see 92, but there’s no guarantee. I stood in the shower remembering how my grandparents were involved in my life, how they were there at those pivotal moments: prom, graduation from high school and college, grandparents day in college, my wedding, etc. Two of the four saw me have my own children. Here’s the stark realization of a 39-year-old mom: I may never meet my great grandchildren. And that makes me cry in the shower.
Wow. How depressing. I hope you’re still reading this far. Because you know what I’ve decided? Life isn’t just about what may happen in the future. What we did in the past matters, too. And I can honestly say I have no major regrets about my life thus far. And even if you do, I hope you’ve reached a place or are on a journey to the place where you can see the good that can come, even from mistakes or missed opportunities.
I had a great life before children: B.C. I followed my dreams after college, I traveled, I had fulfilling jobs and got two degrees. More importantly, I made wonderful friendships that have lasted across cities, states and years, and I met the man I believe I was supposed to marry at an age when it felt just right. Those 34 years B.C. made me who I am. And you know what, I wouldn’t give them up or trade them – even to see my great grandchildren. I stare at that sentence, unsure if it’s true. But it has to be. Because I can’t live in that space, crying in the shower every morning over something I cannot change.
No one’s time is guaranteed. We may not live to see tomorrow, so what’s the use in crying about something that may or may not happen 50 years from now? I believe there are some good things that can come from those tears: a resolution to be as healthy as I can be, to take good care of my body. Okay, so the goal of seeing my grandchildren graduate from high school may not always keep me from eating chocolate cake, but it does motivate me to exercise regularly. It also motivates me to keep my mind young. Wow, I am at that age where sometimes I don’t want to learn a new computer program (never thought I’d get there)! But I should. And having 20-something children when I am 60 will help me keep up with the latest trends and challenge me to learn new things. (BTW, I’m not bothering to learn Snapchat now because, by the time my kids are teenagers, it will be something else, probably on a device that hasn’t been invented yet.)
Us older moms rely on the extra years we had to mature and grow as individuals before our toddlers tested every ounce of our patience, but we sometimes mourn the loss of the energy we had in our 20’s and wonder if we would have been more apt to skip around the playground 10 years ago. Us older moms may be more secure in who we are and the choices we make with our kids, hopefully, less likely to take a side in the mommy wars, but we trade away the freedom of our retirement years for packing school lunches and filling out FAFSA forms. There are pros and cons to every path you take in life. I may have sadness about being an “old mom”, but I can choose to take the path of gratefulness, for what I have already experienced, for the life lessons I have learned and who I became B.C. I can make the most of every day that I do get to have with whatever extended family I end up having.
I’m going to spend year 39 looking at the pros instead of crying in the shower about the cons, because shortly after I turn 40, I’ll be sending my oldest child to Kindergarten and that, my friend, is permission for a full-on ugly cry! Until then, I’ll be saving up my tears . . .