This post was inspired by my friend, Shayna’s post titled, Fears of an Older Mother.
When I was younger, I had my life all planned out. I had a timeline, like many girls do when they’re young and dream about what their lives will be like when they’re older.
I never thought I’d be “an older mother”.
I had everything mapped out and wasn’t going to let anything let me stray from my plan. Ha!
I’d finish high school, go on to CÉGEP, then complete my university degree. I would travel while I was young. I’d begin my career. Once I established my career, I’d fall in love, get married, own a house with a white picket fence (I know! How corny!), I’d get a dog and then my husband and I would start a family. We’d have three children and we’d live happily ever after.
My plan did not go completely the way I had planned it.
I did finish high school, CÉGEP and university all within the time frame I had allotted for myself. Growing up in an Asian family, it may sound stereotypical, but education was of the utmost importance. My parents always said that education was the one gift no one could take away from you, and it was the foundation for all future employment. Education = Opportunities and as a result that equaled stability for your family.
What I didn’t realize was that:
- A) By the time one finishes university and starts earning good money at their career, they’re almost near their thirties when they reach that point!
- B) You don’t just meet someone and fall in love and get married! If you’re lucky or if it was meant to be, you can, but for most people, it takes dating a few Mr. Wrongs to meet Mr. Right-for-You. Sometimes you need to meet a few frogs to find your prince.
- C) Sometimes it’s not a matter of meeting someone, falling in love, getting married, and getting pregnant! That’s the sequence of events young girls have been told was supposed to be THE one to follow. It doesn’t always happen that way, AND sometimes starting a family isn’t as easy as one would think.
By the time I established myself, I was in my late twenties. I had dated people, but none were any I would consider marrying. Then I met a farmer. The whole situation was funny because I was a world traveler, English teacher from the city and I was vegetarian. I ended up falling in love with a beef farmer on an island in rural Northern Ontario!
I was twenty-nine when we met. We married the following year and I gave birth to Little One right before I turned thirty-two.
Thoughts on being an older mother
I always knew I wanted to finish school and have my university degree. I taught ESL from 1998 to 2012 and I thought that was what I wanted to do forever (okay, until retirement age). For myself, I knew I couldn’t have a family when I was in my early twenties. I have friends who have had their first babies in their early twenties, but back then, I wanted to live my life and see the world. I wanted to fill my passport with as many stamps as I could and I wanted to experience other cultures, lifestyles and have my independence.
In hindsight, I see now why many women have babies when they are younger.
I was thirty-two when Little One was born. I see pros and cons of having a first child in my thirties.
- In my thirties, I was more financially secure than I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, I had more life experience than I did when I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, I knew what I wanted more than I did when I was in my twenties
- In my thirties, I was in a stable, loving, secure relationship. I wasn’t when I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, I felt I had more to offer a child (emotionally, financially, etc).
- In my thirties, I had a little less energy and patience than when I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, the window for fertility was not as wide as it was when I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, chances of high risk pregnancy were higher than when I was in my twenties.
- In my thirties, fifty looked a lot closer than it did when I was in my twenties.
- The thought of being fifty when my child would turn eighteen sometimes seems jarring to me.
I have many friends who are in my vintage and have young children. I also find myself to be one of the older moms around here. I often joke that what saves me is that I feel young at heart and that I have Asian genes, so I look like I’m thirty and not like I’m turning forty a week before Christmas! I sometimes still get carded at the LCBO and SAQ!
Age is just a number and it’s all in your frame of mind. This said, age also brings up real concerns like “How long will I be around for my daughter?” or “Will I be around to see all her accomplishments?” or “Will I be here when she gets married and has kids?”
I guess these questions are valid at any age. Whether a parent is twenty, thirty or however old, one never knows what will happen.
I’m just happy to be able to enjoy all the experiences we’re having with Little One. She doesn’t think I’m an “older mother”. This is what she knows.
The one drawback of being an older mother, or rather, having my first child later in life, is that now that I’ll be turning forty this year, I think that this is it for having kids. Little One is six (seven in November), and it doesn’t look like she will ever have a sibling. This is something I am sad about. She has been begging for a baby sister (not a baby brother! A sister!). I don’t think it’s happening and now that I’ll be forty, I don’t know if I even want to attempt anymore.
I had a heart to heart with Little One recently and it made me cry. I asked her if she would be okay if she was an only child. She paused and then said, “Mommy, I would really like a baby sister, but if I’m an only child, I’ll be okay. I’ll still be happy.” She went on to talk about how she sees lots of her friends all the time (we have her friends over regularly) and that she feels the love of all her cousins, so she’s never lonely.
“Mama, it’s like I have tons of brothers and sisters! I’m okay! I’m not lonely!”
That made me cry.
Even though I’m an older mother and even though I only have one child, I am happy and I feel blessed and know that I have enough.
That is all I need.
You may also like:
- Women of a Certain Age
- What it’s Really Like to Have a Preemie
- I’m Never Going to Be What Everyone Wants Me to Be