A few weeks ago, I had a bit of a shock in the school playground. I was chatting to another mum about our son’s teacher. She was saying she had a hard time communicating with her and I was saying I’d found the opposite to be true. I was then stung with this: “Yes, but its ok for you. You’re an older Mother, she respects you!” AN OLDER MOTHER. I was thrown! The girl I was talking to is 26, so not super young. I’m 38. I am an OLDER MOTHER. People see me as an OLDER MOTHER! I laughed it off but I was suddenly very aware (as I hadn’t been previously) of my age.
I am an older mother…apparently. When I had my first kid at 33 (a week shy of 34) I was aware that I was oldish and actually older than I had hoped to be having my first child. But I didn’t massively dwell on it, I’d not settled down earlier in life because I hadn’t met anyone I wanted to settle down with. Most of my friends around my age, give or take a few years, were having babies at the same time. It didn’t feel that alien a concept to be having a baby in my 30s. Even when pregnant with my second baby at 37, having to have an amnio to check for chromosome disorders, I still didn’t think that I should be getting me pipe, slippers and mangy stray cat collection at the ready.
The average age of a first time mother is at an all-time high according to The Guardian at 29.8. And further investigation shows that between 1973 and 1999 the largest age group having bubs was 25-29. From 2008 onwards this had grown to 30-34. Which I am surprised about. Not so much the latter stat but that as early as the 70s the majority were mid to late 20s having their kids. (The stats do show that it’s still a close call with 20-24 age group though, much less so going into the 80s and 90s). I grew up with a young mum. She was 20 (going on 21) when she had me. I thought that was the norm.
|Excuse poor quality. It was the 90s. Mum's 40th.|
And I loved it. I do still love that my mum is so young. I love that there is hardly a generation gap between us, we like the same music (give or take a McGarrigle sister or two) and we have shared clothes since I was a teen. I remember her 40th birthday party like it was a few years ago and yet I will be having mine next year. As a result of this I DID always want to have kids young. I wanted to be that cool mum that my kid’s friends would want to hang out with! But as I said, it just didn’t happen.
I do worry about how old I will feel and how able I will be when my kids are in their 20s/30s. Will I be able to help them out with childcare pre-school if they have kids themselves? Will I be a rubbish, decrepit old bag incapable of nothing other than moaning, dribbling and drinking sherry?!
|Mum looks like my sister, right? She's 40, I'm 19.|
But actually I am glad. I am SO glad I am an older mum. I think despite my worries for declining health in the future, they have been given a start in life that is incomparable to the life I would have provided for them in my early-mid 20s. I was an irresponsible idiot-hole in my 20s. I had the time of my life! I partied hard! I went travelling around the world! I lived in Oz for a year! In short, I had a flipping ball. Then I hit my 30s, the pace of my life slowed down, I met my husband, got a better job, and it actually was the perfect time for me to have kids. As a person in her 30s I am naturally more confident; more sure of my place in the world; much happier and more settled than I ever was in my 20s. Which gives me a great grounding for nurturing my own children’s identities, assuaging there insecurities and meeting their emotional needs. And I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, I’m not resentful that I can’t go out at night or away for weekends at the drop of a hat because I’ve done all that. I’m far too knackered now!
I feel like now I am getting the best of both worlds. I had years of hedonistic independence and now I’m lucky enough to have stability of a loving family unit.
So yes I am an older mother. And that’s OK.