40 Reasons Why Being a Mom Over 40 is Amazing
Being a mom over 40 has its advantages and disadvantages. Or so they say. As far as I am concerned, I only see the pluses. No minuses. Really. Let me explain.
How I Became a Mom Over 40
My whole life, as far back as I can remember, I thought I would have kids later in life. Well, yes, as far back as I can remember actually being able to think about having children. Which was… hm… around the ripe age of 5. I think. It was not really a nicely, neatly formulated thought like “One day, when I grow up and around 40, I will have kids.” It was more of a feeling. First, it was the feeling that having kids of my own was very, very far away. I would have my dolls to practice, for quite some time. Then, the feeling that I’m not like the other girls at school, who thought about having kids right after school / college. I wanted to see the world, explore, read a whoooole lot of books and meet a whooooole lot of people before having kids. Then, in my early twenties and as women around me actually started having kids, I got a very definite feeling, for no particular rational reason, that having kids was going to come for me later in life. In my thirties… late thirties perhaps?
I even remember saying to my sister-in-law, who had just given birth to her children (twins) at the age of 33, that I would have kids when hers would be 13-14. Which would have put me in the 37-38 range. She thought that was a preposterous thing to say and exclaimed, with great surprise, “How long are you going to wait?!”.
Skip ahead a few years… I did travel the world, lived in different countries, read a whoooole lot of books and met a whoooole lot of people. By then, in my early thirties, I was beginning to actually want to have kids. Or at least meet “the one”. I did try… to meet someone, that is. I came close a couple of times but… it didn’t happen. False alarms. So I kept on going with my life… my teaching, my books…
People around me were beginning to get worried. As I rang in another birthday, eyebrows would start going up. The higher the number, the higher the eyebrows… tick-tock… My mother went to church to pray for me. Without telling me. I found out much later, after she died, when I found notes in her night stand.
After thirty-five, I started to get worried myself. Just a little bit. I fought it every single day. I managed to stay fairly serene through the ticking clock and the hissing of the wrinkle-counting gallery but I could not deny it: time was… well… not running out but…
But then again, I’ve always done things at the last minute. My whole life. It’s as if a part of me is always waiting to see if there are any other possibilities to explore first, before committing to something. Perhaps there was some of that too…
Whatever it was… destiny, subconscious (or not so subconscious) desires, unsolved issues, resolved issues… the fact is I met my (now) husband when I was 36. We connected over a span of 2,000 km (about 1,250 miles) and managed to date long-distance for a year. It was a mere formality because we both knew that “this is it”. But we wanted to take our time and do things right. Well, sort of…
Our first child arrived just after my 38th birthday: a healthy baby boy who lit up my life in ways I did not know were possible. Yes, it’s cliche. When it comes to motherhood, I’m full of them. They are all true, by the way: the sound of little feet on the floor, the giggles, waking up at night to hear them breathe… The other side is also true: the heightened anxiety, the postpartum blues, the tiredness…
As for my age, I forgot all about it. Not once did I think “Oh, I’m almost 40. Had I been in my 30’s this would be different…”.
I went on loving my boy and taking care of him with all my heart and all my strength. I had no issues during the pregnancy – or afterwards. It was all from a dream.
My second baby arrived 8 days before my 42nd birthday. Again, I had a perfect pregnancy, sprinkled with heartburn, hip pain and nausea. Nothing unusual – for my age or any other age. Perfect delivery. Perfect baby. A little girl.
I know… it is pretty awesome.
My little girl has just turned one. Thing are much more settled now. The early growth pains of changing from a family of three to a family of four have abated too. My boy is not so jealous anymore and his anxiety has considerably diminished. My girl is sleeping very well through the night and is the most easy-going child you could imagine.
So I can breathe. And reflect. On many things.
One of the things I think a lot about is this “being a mom over 40” thing. The other day I read somewhere (maybe The Atlantic? I’m sorry but I don’t remember) that in the US only 2% of babies are born to women over 40. So it is still pretty rare.
I am also aware of the fact that many women feel judged and awkward about it, for one reason or another.
Me? I only see good things. Really.
So here they are:
40 Reasons Why Being a Mom Over 40 is Amazing
- Life wisdom. I have learned a few things in my 40-somethin’ years… things that I can pass on to my kids.
- Maturity. Because I have learned a few things, I am more mature emotionally and mentally. I shudder to think of the mistakes I would have made in my 20’s and 30’s. I took a long time to grow up…
- No regrets. I took my time with starting a family, but I used that time to have a lot of other experiences I also wanted to have. I can honestly say I have no regrets. I have a lot of things I want to do in my life, but they will either include my family or be better because I’m better because of my family… (I hope that makes sense :)).
- Better social skills. This one translates into so many things… one is that I can pass on to my kids better ways to interact. Including with each other.
- Better conflict resolution skills. Yeah, I’ve done some fighting in my life… Glad I got that out of my system!
- Much more self-acceptance. Which translates into a happier me, which translates into a better mom. Had I had kids in my 20’s, with the levels of self-criticism and insecurity I had then… well… let’s not even go there.
- Clear priorities. I took my time, yes, but I know very clearly what is important to me and what is not. From experience.
- An amazing romantic relationship. No, it is not “luck” and it is not a coincidence that our relationship is amazing. We are both over 40 now and we have both matured a lot in the (almost) 7 years of our time together. With each passing year, it really is getting better.
- Emotional stability. I have always been the “artist type” with a “practical streak” that kept me going. Sensitive and intuitive too. That’s a recipe for… being a sort of emotional yo-yo. I was like that for many years, unable to get a handle on my emotions. It took me a long time but that is one of the perks of maturity: getting to know yourself and learning ways to live with yourself better and better.
- Life-long friendships. I have a few of those and I am very proud of them. I am also very happy with the fact that I will be able to model that for my kids.
- Choosing my battles. Young(er) people can be very feisty. Which is a very good thing. But it can also be bad. The “eternal revolutionary” meet “rebel without a cause” can get very tiring. I was like that. Nowadays I can choose my battles and that is SUCH a good thing.
- Not easily provoked. You might think that this is a minor one but to me it used to be huge. I would have bad days (or months) at the push of a proverbial button if someone pushed it the wrong way. Again, it took me a very long time to grow out of that.
- Made peace with (most of) the past. Let’s leave it at that. Suffice it to say that the demons are scrawny now and very far away.
- Made peace with my thighs. Unless you are a woman, you do not understand how big that can be. I know what to teach my daughter – by example.
- Still young, no matter what the numbers say. That’s how I feel physically, not much different from my 30’s. Sure, I have a few more wrinkles now but I really don’t care. No, really. I don’t. My husband loves them. How awesome is that?!
- Determination and drive. Just watch me go after my dreams!
- Better pace. I used to burn myself out a few times every year with great enthusiasm. Now I can pace myself and I know how important it is to get enough sleep. I just feel better. By the way, now I know how important it is to not skip over my feelings. Which brings me to…
- Honoring feelings. No, I’m not trumping over them anymore. It took the wisdom of a woman to be able to sit with all of them, sort through them and carry them day in and day out like a bunch of brightly burning heart filaments.
- Honoring my intuition. How many times (how many times!!!) during my 20’s and 30’s I had that gut feeling telling me “Don’t!” or “Do!” and didn’t listen?!
- Done people-pleasing. Yes.
- Enjoying my sense of humor. Perhaps it came out of a profound sense of inadequacy, but I couldn’t always allow myself to laugh at what I genuinely found funny. Even that was an area riddled with social expectations. And yes, sometimes I laugh at my own jokes. I’m good company!
- Whole libraries in my head. I’ve always been a book worm. I sometimes think about the hundreds of thousands of pages that are now sitting somewhere in the basement of my mind and I feel proud. Because I’ve read a lot of good books over the years and I am sure that they sprout good thoughts.
- Best years of my life. Maybe it’s because I am a late bloomer, but I genuinely feel that I am living through the best years of my life.
- Keeping up with others is not so important. As someone who has gone through a lot of years watching others do things I longed for, I had to come to terms with the fact that the world was not going to end because I was not “up to snuff”. In fact, the “snuff” was not all that great, as it turns out. Being me is. Flaws, “late to the party” an’ all.
- Creativity is booming. All those false starts, all those trial-and-error runs, all those experiences, all those failures, all those successes… what a strange mixture of life lived and life wished for. It does come out in creative ways that can take your breath away.
- Failure is not the enemy. To paraphrase a movie character, failure is useful if only to show you how much nicer it is to be successful.
- Confidence. Hard-earned.
- See the difference between routine and structure. Kids need the second – and they get it through the first. I could not have told the difference 20 years ago.
- There is still so much to learn! Now I look for things to learn because I want to and it gives me joy, not because I “have to” or to please a teacher or a parent. I can pass on a genuine “love of learning” and that is something I cherish.
- I stopped apologizing. Oh am I glad I did… Not when it is needed, obviously. I mean I stopped apologizing all the time, for everything and everyone.
- Perspective. I can look backwards and I can look forward and know where I am and where I want to be. That’s clarity.
- No longer gullible. Well, yes… okay… I used to be. Pretty gullible. Maddening, I know. It came from all that people-pleasing.
- Catch and release. Some things and some creatures just need to go back to their natural habitat – where I do not belong. No hard feelings.
- Can feed a family of four healthy meals. That is no small thing for someone who used to live on sandwiches.
- Seen the cleaning light of tidying up. Judging by the success of Marie Kwando’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“, I was not the only one in need of that one. I have to confess though that my kids keep me in line big time. I still slip and mess up (literally, as in the house), but it is much more manageable.
- Things are meant to serve me and not the other way around.
- The games are made… and isn’t that great?! I know which game(s) I am playing and from here on I just want to get better.
- My BS detector is working really well. That’s from Hemingway.
- I can admit when I’m wrong and not punish myself into never trying again.
- I live in love every single day. Because I now know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this is what it is all about.
Yes. Life is better at 40. Perhaps it’s just a matter of personal preference… in any case, they make some amazing looking glasses nowadays and wrinkle creams are becoming better and better. I am proud of the person I have become – for many reasons, but one of the biggest is this: that person is now a much better mom than at any other point in m life. And, for that, I have some thanks to give.
I realize that this list makes my life look like an Eternal Summer Wonderland but please know that I could have gone in the opposite direction too. There are things that are hard. There is grief sometimes. There are goodbye’s to be said and there is nostalgia. There are sad days and temperamental days. There are botched epidurals and bodies that take time to heal. There are… there are things… but I choose not to dwell there too much. That’s part of the wisdom that I have gained after all these years – and that I will pass on to my kids: get the lessons, learn from mistakes and move on. Hold on to the love. Every. Single. Day.