A really cool thing happened this week which took me by surprise. A journalist from a magazine contacted me for my humble views on being an older mum. What she really wanted to know and this being the angle of her story was what I thought the differences were between being a younger and older parent. I hope she got something. I did waffle on and on about everything other than her main question.
Would you like to know my line of thinking? There’s actually not very much to it. Only one thing shouted out at me. Yes, just one. And that was WEAR AND TEAR. I now know what my sagging, sun bleached, plastered in yogurt stains and sticky crumbs sofa feels like.
So speaking from personal experience all I could think of was that middle aged motherhood is by and large a more tiring experience. Pause. Rewind. Did I just call my self middle aged? I did. Blimey. I am. Middle age was something that always happened in my distant future. Something that beset others. But’s it’s here. I finally caught up with time. When did this happen? Have I missed something? You see I look in the mirror and still recognise the youthful adventurer and foolhardy risk taker shining back from the vital gaze of my blue grey eyes. That whipper snapper is ever present but now masquerades in M&S. Move over Twiggy there’s a new girrl in town.
Anyways finally reconnecting with the first paragraph, one optimistic study found that later motherhood gave women a new zest for life. Really? Who are these older mothers? What’s their secret? My daughter has blessed me with infinite opportunities for maintaining my youth, vitality and acting the clown, silly mummy, but I have to admit to feeling completely knackered at times. Let’s face it I had truck loads more energy in my twenties. I used to go out, party all night and wouldn’t feel the effects the next day. When I apply this to being on nocturnal duty with a baby I can see a clear winning formula for being a younger parent.
So was becoming a mum at 39 a foolish thing to do? Should I have done it when I was younger? One thing I worry on and on and on about is whether my girl will be an only child. The thought of her being alone in the world makes my stomach knot and heart beat faster. If I’d had children when I was younger time would have afforded me the opportunity to have more.
But I am still undecided about baby number two. I know I need to make up my mind as time will run out. Aggghh I’m feeling the pressure. You see I’m frightened of repeating the depression I went through in pregnancy and having another cesarean to recover from. How would my girl respond and cope if mummy was incapacitated? And then there was that exhausting ‘bye bye sleep’ first year. So do I want to go through all that again?
Yesterday while I was in my local park I struck up a conversation with a very sanguine woman in her early thirties as we were pushing our toddlers on the swings. She asked me if I planned to have another one. ”Mmmmm, I’m not sure, I just don’t know at the moment” was my vague response. She on the other hand was refreshingly decided about sticking with the one child. Nope, she didn’t want to go through the sleepless nights and teething again. Nope, she didn’t want to put her marital relationship under further strain. Totally resolute in her decision. As far as she was concerned her daughter has lots of friends to play with along side the visibly suffering pet greyhound.
I really wanted some of her parfume de certainty to rub onto me. I’m caught in this continual net of doubt as to how to proceed; do I do what’s best for me or my daughter? I just don’t want her to be alone. Maybe this fear is mine. There were many times I felt totally alone as a child. And maybe, just maybe my daughter will be fine. I can’t have another one if it’s just to provide a brother or sister for my girl. I have to really want another baby. You know, the whole kit and kaboodle.
BUT then I keep coming back to the fact that this is how it was supposed to be. I was meant to be mother later on. Yes, I might have had more energy in my twenties but a baby was farthest from my thoughts during a decade in which I gallivanted about and revelled in my freedom. Anyway I was a DJ spinning music all over Europe for nearly ten years. It was a wonderful life but hardly conducive to bringing up baby.
So when I look down the history scope I view a person who was far too wrapped up in her personal dreams to consider the insatiable needs of a tiny new life. Then there was the small matter of ‘daddy material’. Boyfriends came and went but no one I could really foresee meshing my genes with. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 33 and by that point I was in the throes of a career change having committed myself to a four year diploma in therapy.
When I eventually arrived at the ‘final countdown’, interpret as ‘late 30’s’, I had reached a place where if I had a baby, wonderful, but equally if I didn’t, that was okay too as I had a new career to grow and immerse myself in. But my husband and I got lucky. I was ‘with child’ after only two months of trying and the pregnancy luckily stuck the whole nine yards. Time sooner rather than later will tell if I decide to have another one. But for now I feel totally blessed that my daughter has lighted up our lives with all her love, giggles, made up jibber jabber songs and cool dance moves. She is the love of my life.
And do I really see myself as an ‘older mum’. No, not really. I’m just a mum but a more weary one. And is it worth it? ……. Hell Yeah!