This is the second post in my Mommy Mythbusting series. Since it’s my birthday today, the myth I’d like to bust today is the one about older moms being… well, you know. Old.
I’m 42 with a two year old, and I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t worry me sometimes.
I’m not worried about being the oldest mom in Zoe’s friend circle, because there are way more women having babies at 40 and up these days. Plus, for better or worse, I’ve never acted my age. I joke that Zoe has taken years off my life because people usually assume I’m in my thirties now.
I’m pretty sure I’ll always be one of the cool moms. I’ll certainly be the most heavily tattooed one, and up until I got pregnant with her I rode my own motorcycle, which some would say lends a certain edge. I have a pretty rockin’ career that I love, so she’ll grow up seeing me as a strong working mom role model. I’ll also be the mom who acts the silliest, plays the goofiest and has the most fun. And once Zoe gets old enough to think all my wackiness is uncool, well, like I said – I’ll always have my tattoos.
(Then again, growing up with a colorful, illustrated mama is probably a guarantee that not only will Zoe not want any herself, but also that she’ll think tattoos are generally uncool! Still, that won’t be a bad legacy to leave her: beautiful unmarked skin. My ink will have served a noble and unintended purpose if that ends up being the case.)
But back to this older mom thing. While I was pregnant with Zoe, it weighed heavily on my mind. We had a wonderful PR intern in my office at the time, and during a great conversation with Charlotte in which she raved about how awesome her mom was, she happened to reveal that her mom had her at the age of 41.
I was thrilled – I immediately wanted to meet Charlotte’s mom, talk with her about becoming a mother at that age, and find out any life lessons she’d learned in the course of being an older mom. I loved the way Charlotte talked about her mother: that she’s her best friend, that she’s hip and cool, that they share clothes and go out together, and that Charlotte’s friends all love her mom.
That’s the mom I want to be to Zoe – that’s how I want her to view me when she’s in her 20s.
So, Charlotte set up lunch for the three of us and I got to meet her mom. She is cool and hip and wise, and I enjoyed our lunch very much. But do you know what I figured out over the course of our lovely meal? It wasn’t Charlotte’s mother I needed to talk to at all – it was Charlotte herself. I was most enthralled by what Charlotte had to say, because in her I saw my future Zoe. I loved hearing about how Charlotte perceived her mom’s age as a child, when she first figured out her mom was older than the other moms (around age six), and how she felt about it (competely unconcerned, although she did notice it).
What I learned from lunch with these two ladies was that I could pretty much relax about the whole older mom thing. I just need to be my awesome self, and Zoe will be just fine. Charlotte’s mom never tried to be younger or cooler than she was – she was just herself. Charlotte grew up appreciating that and not obsessing over her mom being a little older. If the mom doesn’t stress over that little number, it’s likely the daughter won’t either.
Let’s face it, chronological age means so little these days. I used to think 65 was old until my parents reached that age and I saw them having the time of their lives, traveling the world and wearing Lululemons and being fit as fiddles. If I can grow older as fabulously as my own parents seem to be doing, I’ll be just fine and so will Zoe. And there are so many benefits to having waited to become a mom: I’m smarter, more secure and relaxed, and more financially stable than I was in past decades of my life.
I guess my one remaining concern with being an older mom is staying healthy so I can live a good long life and give Zoe as much time as I possibly can. To that end, I try to make good choices and not take unnecessary risks (selling my motorcycle when I got pregnant with Zoe was part of that). I keep a positive outlook, take care of myself and read up on longevity-related life hacks (I need to get more exercise).
But most of all, I’m just focusing on being myself – because that’s exactly what I want Zoe to do.
What about you? Do you worry about being an older parent – or do you have older parents yourself? Do you find yourself thinking about these things? I’d love to hear in the comments below.