In my spare time, I like to play the “What if” game. I’m not talking about bashing myself over past mistakes or regrets. I mean in it in a more positive sense, to help me appreciate my current reality, so to speak. The topic of the “What if” game today is “What if I became a parent in my 20s rather than my 40s?” What would be different about the experience?
In my 20s, I was much more active and would have been in shape when I got pregnant, therefore my young bod would have snapped back after I had my daughter.
My current over 40 reality? Gravity is not my friend. I have lumps and bumps where they never existed. Workout now? Sure, if I didn’t throw my back out lifting my lanky 5-year old! If I had realized I was going to go through an infertility journey in order to get pregnant, I would have totally shaped up before I packed my bags! Those meds and the stress take a toll on you. I like to think that my over 40 mommy body is a badge of honor. I earned every one of those stretch marks and lumps of cottage cheese in my thighs.
In my 20s, I had a slammin’ wardrobe and was quite the label whore. I would have been more likely to be a put together, fashionista mom. I see all these young twenty something moms these days with their super cute maxi dresses and designer diaper bags. They even look super hot while pregnant!! That was what was important to me then too. I wanted to look good for others; to impress them. I would have done a damn good job looking good too!
My current over 40 reality? I’m lucky if I have pants on when I leave the house. I realize that it’s more important that my daughter is well cared for and has a decent breakfast in her before we leave the house. It doesn’t really matter if I put makeup on. No one dies on those days. But if Zoey isn’t fed and given time to get dressed and doesn’t get to have little mommy time before I drag her to daycare then no one is happy. I mean NO ONE! A happy morning is a morning without whining and filled with giggly knock knock jokes! That’s fine with me!
In my 20s, I was a reader. I devoured books. I would have read all the baby books while I was pregnant so I knew all the “right things to do” when the time came. I was very impressionable then and probably could have been talked into any trend!
In my 40s, I am so…tired! I never read any of the books by the “experts” except for the funny ones by Jenny McCarthy. And you know what? I’m probably a better mom because of it. I tend to parent by feel now rather than by-the-book. I learned what works for me and my child, not necessarily what was expected to work. So far, so good. (Although, I wish I had read a book on sleep training and been prepared to use it way before the screaming baby arrived and I was too tired to read past chapter 1!)
In my 20s, I was less of an activist or feminist. I wasn’t even aware of what was going on in the world, or at least concerned enough about it because it didn’t directly affect me. I ate without considering the consequences of my choices on the world; I shopped without considering how my money sent a message to humanity. And society’s impact on girls, whether it’s about them being “pretty” or “thin”–My head was totally up my ass about that for sure.
Now that I’m a forty-something mother of a girl, I have my eye on the world. My daughter is going to be here long after I’m gone and I want to make sure I’m an example of compassion and what’s right with the world. There’s plenty of time for her to be exposed to what’s wrong with the world, so for a while, I hope that I can shelter her. I want her to be kind to animals and people because that’s just how we’ve always been. It’s just what we do. I don’t want her to know any other way to behave.
I could play this game all day, but I hope you’re getting the picture. It’s no use to look at what could have been without seeing what’s in front of you. This much is true: I’m a damn good mom, right here right now. I know myself so much better than I did when I was in my twenties. I have so much more experience being me. I’m so glad I can share who I am now with my girl. I’m aged to perfection and I wouldn’t have it any other way.