6 Things Older Moms Know
What we've learned ourselves by having kids later in life
When I adopted a 4-day-old infant at age 44, I didn't feel old. Physically, I felt stronger than I had at 34 (or even 24). I could say the same for my emotional state. I was tougher, smarter, and better prepared to take on whatever the world – or an infant – threw at me. So it was a surprise when, just a few months into being a parent, I began to feel like the oldest mom on the block. Being a new mom in my 40s seemed unremarkable intellectually, but I soon realized that I was not in the majority.
It wasn't just the supple skin gracing the younger moms' faces that upset me. It was how alone I felt. I was always the oldest mom in the room at kids' parties, daycare drop-offs, and the grocery store. I began to feel like a freak of nature. I feared being mistaken for a grandmother. And then came the obsessive age math: She will be this many years old when I'm that many. I'll be ancient when she graduates high school. Will I even be alive for her college graduation?
So I did what many of us do in trying times: I crowdsourced support. I wrote on Facebook that I was looking for "older" new moms to share what it feels like to them. I received a slew of responses from some of the warmest, smartest, and most accomplished women on my friend list, and suddenly I didn't feel so alone. Although each woman's path to motherhood was unique, there was one common thread: They were all perfectly ok with being a mother at this stage of life. No one was pining for youth or a different experience. And this has helped me do the same.
If you're adjusting to motherhood in your 40s, I hope this helps you too. Here are the top things I learned about being an older – and wiser – new mom.
1. People can be insensitive.
"Before I was showing, we were shopping for baby furniture when a woman asked us if we were shopping for our grandchildren. I have been mistaken for a grandparent and a nanny on several occasions, but it's more uncomfortable for the other person than it is for me." –KC, 50, mother of a 3-year-old in the San Francisco Bay Area
2. But we are uniquely equipped to handle parenthood.
"I've done an enormous amount of emotional and psychological work on myself, so I feel better prepared to be a parent than I would have been in my 20s or 30s, when I still had so many problems I hadn't worked out." –Kristen Edwards, a tech executive in San Francisco and mom to 1-year-old Quinn
"I have developed so much more self-awareness in the past decade than I had when I was in my early 30s. I feel like [then] I was still a child myself in many ways. I was a late bloomer and feel immensely grateful for the qualities I will bring to motherhood at this phase in my life. I know that I will be more patient, less stressed about the small stuff, and more appreciative of the incredible opportunity that I have to be a mother." –MeiMei Fox, a writer in Los Angeles and mom to twin 4-month-olds
"Every year in life we know ourselves better and better, and I feel that's given me a level of sanity and patience. I didn't have that grounding when I was younger. I'm able to enjoy my life more now." –Ali Berlin, a life and relationship coach in Menlo Park and mom to 1-year-old Ryder
3. Our oats are sown.
"I've done so much in my life already and feel I'm giving up very little by becoming a mom at this age. I have few regrets about being 'tied down.'" –Kristen Edwards
4. We are at peace with our journey.
"I wouldn't change my decision to have my son at this age. While many of my friend's kids are in college and some friends are even grandparents, our journey is just beginning. I had my fun single years and first 10 years of marriage freedom early. Now, my friends are feeling the freedom while we are raising a kid. It's all in the perspective." –KC
"Most of my good friends from college have kids who are at least 6 or 7 years old by now. It feels strange to be at a completely different life phase than them, but I don't feel any judgment or discomfort about it. This was my life path. I made the best decisions I could for myself along the way." –MeiMei Fox
5. We are more financially stable.
"I am the child of a teen mom, and I also had a child at the other end of the [age] spectrum. I am certainly more financially and emotionally stable now, and both of those things contribute to feeling more confident about motherhood." –Jennine Jacob, 40-year-old mom of almost 2-year-old Jasper in San Francisco
"I'm in a much better financial situation than I was 15 or 20 years ago. Both my husband and I have advanced in our careers, so we are making much more than we were years ago. As a result, I'm able to put my son in a better preschool and afford private school when he's ready." –KC
6. Our age doesn't matter one bit to our kids.
"My son has no idea that we are older than other parents. He just cares that we can get on the floor and play with him when he wants us to." –KC
And as for me, every time my daughter spots a Vogue magazine, she points to the models and says, "Mommy!" Clearly she's not noticing the ways in which my age makes me different from these young women. And in talking with older new moms, I'm learning to appreciate and celebrate the ways in which I am different.