I never thought I’d be a very young mother, but I certainly didn’t imagine I’d be classified as a geriatric one either.
Yet here I sit, several years into my 40s, with a toddler in tow. And sit I do, because let’s face it, I’m tired.
I’m not the only one out there. Mommyhood is exhausting, no matter what your age. Lots of women have children later in life, officially making them ‘geriatric moms.’ There’s even a slightly classier medical term for it: AMA, or Advanced Maternal Age, if you’re 35 and over.
When I entered my 30s, and for pretty much the entire decade, I still felt like I was 25. My age only hit me when I looked long enough in the mirror to see gray roots. Even then, I started going gray at 21, so besides that initial shock, it’s never really set off aging alarm bells to me. Then I got pregnant, and while my prenatal chart was a vision of health, every medical appointment confirmed my age with that giant AMA checkmark. How could I be that old?!
At some point in my pregnancy, I took out a book from the library about Advanced Maternal Aged Moms. I skimmed through it, tossed it on the nightstand, and promptly returned it to the library. I don’t remember a thing I read. But here’s what I’ve learned about us ‘mature’ mamas since then, and these might be worth remembering:
1. We may be healthier than we were two decades ago.
Advanced Maternal Age is not a disease in and of itself. We are in a higher risk category due to more potential complications that could occur during pregnancy or childbirth thanks to our age, but that doesn’t mean we are automatically unhealthy. I’m pretty sure I made better food choices during my entire pregnancy than I did during my younger years. I also did yoga, walked a ton and took a daily nap on the couch. So take that, AMA checkmark.
2. We may have more patience than we did when we were younger.
We waited a long time for this, even if we didn’t actually know we were waiting. Some of us were on the fence about ever having kids, or having more, and decided to give it a go before we got too old. Others have struggled with infertility and/or miscarriages for years. We’re kind of used to waiting, so really, it’s no big deal that it now takes 20 minutes to walk to the mailbox with a toddler. Unless it’s raining, in which case, move that tiny 2T butt along.
3. We may have less patience though, with unsolicited advice.
People will always have an opinion about your pregnant belly. When you’re older though, people may think that they’re really entitled to give you their two cents, ‘for your safety.’ One medical professional basically called me a fool for choosing a midwife at my age. Never mind that her specialty did not include obstetrics, she felt it imperative to remind me of my age and condition (as if I could forget, at 36 weeks along) and the risks I was taking, without even stopping to consider that my midwife planned to deliver my baby in a hospital.
4. We may also have strong opinions that we’re not afraid to voice.
My pediatrician and I have butted heads on more than one occasion about night nursing, and I’m not sure I would have felt so strongly about it, or even breastfeeding in general, earlier in life.
5. We may be more tired.
Not because we spent the whole night partying (we did that decades ago), but because we’re old(er) and now chasing a child. We all need our sleep, but some of us didn’t fully appreciate it until now. College all-nighters and work deadlines, you’ve got nothing on us now compared to a teething baby.
6. We may be fine staying at home and ‘missing out.’
I had 39 full years of life before I had a child. That’s a LONG time to do my own thing. I’ve already had decades of globe-trotting, going out to work and attending social events at all hours. I still travel, go out occasionally, and I freelance, but this stay-at-home mom gig is pretty great too. (Plus I’m tired and going out late these days is exhausting. See #5.)
7. We may do things differently than our friends.
One of my closest friends had her firstborn over a decade before I had mine. I visited her when the Peanut was six months old and she tried to convince me to enforce her sleep training tactics. Maybe in my 20s, I would have been more persistent with kicking my kid out of my bed. In my 40s I realize that sleep is not the hill I want to die on. Frankly, I just want to take a nap there. (See #5… again.)
8. We may find it difficult to make new friends.
I managed to create a solid group of friends, long before social media and cell phones entered the scene. (Remember, I’m ‘old’…) However, they are scattered around the world, and I have found it difficult to make new friends nowadays, not only because I’m a mother, but perhaps because I’m an older mom of only one small child. Other moms my age often have much older children or even teenagers, in addition to toddlers. Many times they are busy families of four or more, with their last child arriving later in life. Their plates are full with school stuff and sports. My plate is simply full of cookie crumbs some days.
9. We may not get another chance at this.
Infertility can affect all ages, but the reality is that our eggs die off drastically after 40. Some of us may be wistful that we didn’t start earlier. Or we may be so exhausted from chasing a little human around at our age that one is definitely enough. (Again, see #5.)
10. Finally, we may not know what we’re doing, simply because we’re more ‘mature’ age-wise.
New and younger moms sometimes look to me for answers, when I am just as clueless about raising a kid. I may have many more years of actual life experience, but dear mamas, we’re all in this boat together. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do occasionally have cookies to share and we can still be friends. (Remember #8.)