It wasn’t supposed to be this way. My life plan was to get married by 25 and be finished with having kids by my early 30s. I achieved the first part of that goal, having gotten married at 25 to my college boyfriend, but the second part didn’t happen as planned.
Initially, it wasn’t that we weren’t getting pregnant; it was that whenever we looked at where we were, we weren’t READY to have kids. When I turned 30, I was working full-time in NYC (commuting 2 hours each way), finishing up my MBA on the weekends, living in a tiny house, and looking for a job closer to home. That last part, I justified to myself, was my prerequisite to starting a family…and so we waited. Then, the job closer to home came, but we were still living in a tiny house and wanted to move to a better school district…and so we waited. Eventually, there wasn’t much left to wait for…and so we decided to try.
And try. And try. All while trying, life continued on – we continued to work, travel, and do the things we enjoyed doing. Yet, eventually, the dreams of being “done” by our early-30s had passed – we found ourselves living in a large home in a family neighborhood with great schools, and no children to fill the home. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d likely end up with just one child (and maybe a few dogs).
And then, it happened. By the time it happened, I was 36; technically “advanced maternal age” (AMA). While it wasn’t too much later than we had hoped, the truth was that I’d be 37 by the time “this kid” was born. When we found out that “this kid” was actually “two kids,” we joked about it:
“I guess we made up for lost time.”
I thought initially that being a little older would be much more difficult than it would be had I had my first child earlier. With hindsight, I’m not so sure that’s the case. I’m loving being a mom to preschoolers at 40 (yikes…am I REALLY 40??) and here’s why:
- If you’re “AMA,” you tend to be monitored more during pregnancy. Between being AMA and having multiples, I was going in for screenings every 2-4 weeks. I got to hear (or see) my babies at least once a month before they even came out.
- I’d gotten my “partying” out of my system. Don’t get me wrong – I love “Girls Night Out” every once in a while…but those outings are truly only every once in a while.
- By the time my kids came along, hubby and I had already traveled a fair bit. Now that we’re facing years of family vacations at the Jersey Shore or Sesame Place, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
- I had time to establish my career. I think that the push/pull between parenting and work is one of the hardest parts of being a working mom. At my point in my career, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove – people know me, they know my capabilities, and they know that I’ll get stuff done. It makes leaving at 5:30 to pick up my kids just a little bit easier.
- Because my husband and I spent over 15 years building our careers and saving up before the kids came along, we were able to establish ourselves financially.
- We live in our “forever home.” We initially moved because our old home wasn’t the best home for raising a family. When we were buying our new home, we decided that we could afford to move into a permanent location and so we did. Unless our work takes us elsewhere, I don’t plan to move anytime soon.
- THE BEST PART of being an older first time mom: many of my friends have older kids who have the wisdom and experience of motherhood. These friends are the first ones I turn to when I have questions about my kids – and I’ve found that their advice is more important than any child-rearing expert’s. AND…a lot of my friends have kids who are old enough to babysit! Score!
There are definite downsides to being older, but I find these to be very few and just reality-based. Specifically:
- Socially, it’s tough to be older. When I try to get together for playdates with moms of kids the same age, I find that many are significantly younger than I am. While we have our kids in common to talk about, we’re at very different stages in life. This is particularly noticeable when we get together with the dads because my husband is a fair bit older than theirs – there just isn’t much for them to relate to on a social level.
- I worry about death – yes, it’s morbid, but the truth is that at 40 (and my husband at slightly older), the chances of suffering something like a heart attack are higher. We’ve put in place all of the appropriate measures to ensure our kids are cared-for if this happens, but that doesn’t make these worries go away.
- I don’t plan to stop working until my kids are well-established and out on their own. This means I’ll still be working when I’m about 65.
- Even if they had kids early (if they decide to have kids), I may find myself being an older first-time grandma.
When all is said and done, the upsides of being an older first time mom, for me, outweighs the downsides by a large margin. I feel that I don’t have as much stress as I would have had if I’d started a decade earlier. This, in turn, allows me to focus all of my time and energy where it really belongs – on my children.
Now, can someone please pass me my reading glasses and my walker?