I was 43 when my two boys (now 5 years old) were born. Although they came into my family through two very deliberate adoptions, I identify with moms everywhere who arrive at the parenting party just a little bit later than average. Besides, what’s really average anymore? While I can usually claim the “oldest mom with the youngest kids” title, studies show women are waiting longer to have first babies.
I can think of a few things that suck about being the older mom: awkward interactions with millennial moms, being mistaken for Grandma instead of Mommy, and having to stretch out my back before attempting to bend over the tub to wash my kids’ hair. But the good far outweighs the bad.
Here are seven things that rock about being an older mom:
1. More confidence
I spent my 20s and a good part of my 30s trying to figure out who I was. While I firmly believe everyone is a work in progress, at 49 I know exactly who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’ve had to grow into my self-confidence — but the fact that I’m less likely to second-guess myself makes me a better mom.
2. Less stressing about little things
My house is dirty. My kid probably has his underpants on backwards. I may have sent him to school without going through his backpack from the day before. The world won’t stop spinning. I’ve lived enough life to know that little things may seem like big things in the moment, but they probably aren’t even a blip on the radar of what’s important in the long run. I ask myself if an immediate annoyance or stressor will matter in one year or five years. If the answer is no, I don’t waste time worrying about it.
3. Not easily intimidated
I know the mama bear instinct doesn’t observe the boundaries of age, but when dealing with teachers, coaches, other parents, healthcare providers and that crazy lady who keeps trying to guilt me into doing PTA stuff, knowing how to stand my ground has served me well. I don’t accept the status quo and I’m quick to raise the B.S. flag if a situation calls for it.
4. My kids keep me young
Maybe this sounds cliché, but it’s true. It’s hard to have the mindset of a middle-aged woman when you’re chasing little kids around. And yes, I realize I have the back and joints of a middle-aged woman when I’m running after my kids — but that’s another story. I don’t feel old and my kids take the credit for that. Attitude is everything, right?
5. Financial security
My husband and I had both finished school and were well-established in our professional careers when our boys came along. We’re not rich by anyone’s definition, but the days of eating baloney until payday are gone. Money doesn’t make you a good parent; but the absence of ever-present stress over where grocery money is going to come from allows me to focus more on enjoying motherhood.
6. Major screw-ups are in the past
I did a lot of stupid things as a young adult. I made bad choices: career, relationships, money, you name it. If I seem to be good at adulting, it’s because I’ve screwed everything up at least once. I’m not suggesting I know everything now and that I’ll never stumble again, but I know my kids are getting a better me than they would have 20 years ago. They’re getting a more tired me whose knees pop and crack a lot, but overall, a better me.
7. I don’t take time for granted
I’m almost 50. My kids are almost 6. I’m in great health, and people today live longer than ever. But I also know that numbers aren’t in my favor. If my son waits until he’s 35 to start a family, that will make me 78 when I get to hold my first grandchild. I’ll be 96 on that kid’s eighteenth birthday. Possible? Certainly. Likely? Who knows? Something to take for granted? No way.
My children are a gift and yes, I might lose perspective when I’m nudged awake at 2 a.m. because someone thinks he saw a closet monster and I desperately need my freaking sleep, but these days are precious and I realize how lucky I am to have these moments.
I think being a mom rocks, period, no matter how old or young you are. But there are definitely some advantages to being that “mature parent.” My ego just has to get a little tougher so I don’t spend an hour crying in my ice cream when someone asks if I’m the grandma.