03 Jan Being an “Older” Parent
I was never one to preoccupy myself with finding a husband and having babies, not setting deadlines for these life events. It had always been something that would “happen when or if it was meant to happen”. I was turning 30 and my career in Human Resources was starting to take shape and I wanted to continue to focus on developing that, all the while having a nagging feeling that if I didn’t pay attention to dating someone seriously I may find myself childless at 40. I knew that I wanted a family of my own it just really wasn’t a huge focus like many of my peers. Fast forward a couple of years and I met my now Husband and within 2 years of meeting we got married and bought a new home. The following year we had our daughter and two years later we had our son.
I am now 40-years-old and to me it has all worked out extremely well – I am in a loving marriage and had two children, my daughter who will be 4 in December and my 16 month old son. I first experienced the stigma that seems to come with being an older mom when I attended a mom & tot group and the women were significantly younger. There were many remarks and questions as to why I was so old and if we had trouble getting pregnant! These were not only personal questions but rather offensive to think that I couldn’t conceive at “my age”? The judgement continued at parks and playground. It felt like I was back in high school and the feeling of not being accepted. I remember coming home one morning crying and calling my husband at the office! I felt so belittled and old. Did it seem really unusual that we had our children in our late-thirties?
Fast forward to when I had my son, I am now about to turn 39 in a couple of months and again decided to participate in playgroups and try to socialize with other moms with children the same age as mine. This time, it seemed a little worse, as instead of commenting to me, directly it was comments to people I knew. Things like, “who is SHE, I don’t know her,” “We didn’t go to school with her”, “is she really that old? I found this to be so incredibly sad, as though something really was wrong with me. Did I look old? I had always been told I looked very young! Did I seem distant and cold, that they couldn’t relate to me? It felt like I needed to justify my actions.
Finally, I took some time and realized I couldn’t control what others said or felt. What I could control was how I felt about my circumstances. For instance, I took the time to be satisfied with myself first and didn’t require a man to make me feel whole. Second, I can see what is most important in life such as family and not be bogged down with what everyone else has or does. Third, my career is established and that allows me to take a few steps back and really be there for my family.
At the end of the day, I have always said “you meet who you meet, when you meet them”. I took my time and found the right person to build a life with, and didn’t settle out of fear that I would be older when starting a family. I relish each and every day that I get to be a mom and wife. As cliché as it may be, age really is just a number. Do I wish sometimes that I had met my husband 10-15 years earlier and subsequently had children when I was young-ish? Sure, for the simple fact that it would be great to be around a little longer and see my babies grow up and maybe have families of their own someday. But what I have learned in my 40 years, is that nothing is guaranteed and being a young mom does not mean being around longer, nor does being an older mom mean I won’t get to see major milestones. So with that I say, to all those Moms who are in the same boat, remember that it is not you who needs to question where you are in life, but rather on others to not judge. We criticize too harshly when we see someone who does not conform to what we believe is “doing things right”. To all those moms who look and judge, take a walk in someone else’s shoes and think how you would feel being snickered at, judged and left out because of your age or any other superficial reason. It hurts!