To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

Once upon a time, a woman stood in the empty nursery of her home. It was a high summer evening and her husband and two daughters were off on a bike ride. She could hear the carefree shouts of the neighbor children coming through the open windows. And she couldn’t stop herself: Andrew, Andrew she found herself calling out, in the vacant nursery, on this evening that trembled with green breezes and slanting sunlight. The name was one chosen for a son even before college, the name that topped the list for boys whenever she was pregnant. She felt a bit crazy to be standing there alone, calling out for a child who didn’t exist. So she got hold of herself and left the nursery. She had a perfect family–why ask for more. And she was almost 40. But the thought kept pumping through her head–you only live once.

Of course the woman was me and the catharsis of that summer night created an even stronger desire to have another child. With some tears, laughter and the dubious argument that our midlife crisis should not be a snappy red convertible but another child, I convinced my husband. Of course being a numbers guy he pointed out the 50% possibility. No problem. We picked out a name for a girl too.

Amazingly I got my wish and less than 2 years later–Andrew was born. I will always feel there was just some nameless force inside of me that propelled us forward. In some ways wanting a child and being blessed with one often happens that way. And this post emphasizes all the positives, though being an RN I schooled myself in the risks of pregnancy over 40 and all that meant–increased chance of miscarriage, fetal anomalies, and infertility problems. A friend and I even wrote a book about it, which we never published. But truly the upside of the decision far outweighed the downside. Look at these current stats, from the National Center for Health Statistics: in American women ages 40 to 44, birthrates have hit their highest point since 1967. Births have also become increasingly common among women in their late 30s. 

Many women today wait to have children because they realize the positive aspects of having a career and thus insuring a strong economic foundation before having a family. And many women like me have forged the pathway for older moms now having babies. We made the decision to not care if when preschool began someone might think the grandmother had showed up and not the mother. The Boomer culture enfolds us and reminds us to fight the grey hair and keep the body trim and flexible. The latter is easily accomplished when you have to chase after a baby!

Our son’s presence in the family welded us all together in a new and exciting way. Yes, there were some adjustments. But very quickly his sisters embraced him and eagerly wanted to babysit, feed and play with him. They both became his godparents and thus our  little BUDDY had it made from the start. My elderly aunt on hearing of my pregnancy exclaimed, “He’ll add 20 years to my life.” Amazingly, he did. Of course his grandmothers were thrilled to experience the first word, the first step of a grandchild all over again. Children just fill you up and pull you into their world.

Because I was an older mom:

  • my son commented that his oldest sister is the luckiest because in the long run she’ll have more time with me. Of course he’s counting on me taking a powder one of these days, but I know what he means. And I’m not sure his sister would agree and I’m just not going to ask her!
  • he says he wouldn’t trade this older mom even if I could run the rapids like Meryl Streep in THE RIVER WILD
  • he taught me about legos and Game Boys, guitar riffs and appreciating music of the 70s 80s and 90s that had passed me by
  • I never minded when: I found guitar pics in the dryer; he changed my screen saver to read: I LOVE ANDREW; we had open talks about sex; he refused to part with any remembrance of his childhood (well, maybe I did a little, but I was flattered that these things meant so much to him and luckily we had the room to house everything)
  • he taught me once again, that amazing experience of family–that we all belong to each other

There is no doubt that his presence in our lives kept me and my husband young. John became a Boy Scout leader and went on campouts complete with raccoons invading his tent. I did a short stint of rappelling during scout camp, rolled down a hill like I was only nine, and numerous times went sledding and hiking. Final report: no broken bones!!

Then the most amazing thing happened. Andrew was taking a tennis lesson and I was sitting in the bleachers listening to the thump, thump of the ball and looking at a magazine. And after I while, I got distracted and was just staring into space. And I heard the name HAVEY. Of course the coach was talking to Andrew, urging him on, saying something like way to go HAVEY. But my skin tingled and my heart increased its rate and I was back on a Chicago park bench with my girlfriends, waiting to hear that word blow across the baseball field or the tennis court. Waiting for the love of my life to show up with his friends.

I’ve been a HAVEY for most of my life now, and when I looked up to see Andrew swinging his racket, that same deep love extended back to him, to my son, to this child of an older mom. Because I know he will inspire my heart and keep me young.

As my fellow bloggers from Grown and Flown wrote in a recent post–Motherhood is a big tent and it matters little if you step inside at 18 or 40, or somewhere in between. What did matter was my desire to grow and change with this child. To open up to new experiences, to adjust to thought patterns and ideas that might never have presented a challenge had my husband and I not taken up the role of parent again. But it’s all good–it’s all amazing. Because we have stayed young, we have  embraced new things– I guess you could say we have thrived under the big tent of parenthood.

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

A Mother’s Time Capsule, Short Stories from 1980-2014 www.elizabethahavey.com 

photo: thestir.cafemon.com and John Havey

16 thoughts on “To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

    • THANK YOU!! I really meant to write and ask and then time got away from me. You guys are the best, Beth

  1. Love everything you write, Beth. I remember your longing to have another child, a Boy…… I think it was after I had Brian…… So happy you were blessed with another beautiful child inside & out! The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!!!
    See ya in two weeks!

    • Oh yes, Gay, the morning I heard about Brian’s arrival, my desires increased even more. You had 2 girls and then a boy–maybe I could too!!

      How are things going? Eager to see you soon, Beth

  2. What a beautiful essay, and I love the connections you have with your family. And your memories! I had my children on the younger end of the scale, and I remember wanting another in my late 30s. My problem was that my pregnancies are such that I cannot work while I’m pregnant, and we couldn’t afford for me not to work. I got my “baby fix” teaching Kindermusik, holding the new babies of the moms who were in class with their toddlers. Now I have the joy of a granddaughter (and probably more to come), and great relationships with my now-adult kids.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      You are so kind to like the piece and I totally understand the need to hold and cuddle a new baby. What a wonderful way to fill a need in you and to help others. I love my grandchildren like crazy and it’s always fun to be with them. Thanks so much, Beth

  3. What a lovely post Elizabeth! I had my children very early and had my tubes tied in my 20’s it is something that I have always regretted doing. Instead though I ended up keeping my great niece for 61/2 while her parents grew up. Now I have the twin grandbabies so that makes up for it some.

    • Thanks, Rena. You are such a great friend. I’m happy you have children–don’t know how many. And raising your niece was such a giving action. And there’s nothing better than grandchildren, that’s for sure. Take care, Beth

  4. Beth,
    What a beautiful and insightful sentiment to Andrew. I was 33 when I had Grace and although that isn’t necessarily an older mom, many of her friends mothers are far younger than I am and had their kids when they were 22. I also have more achy bones than those younger mothers and less energy but I am so blessed to have had her when I did. I would not have been a good mother when I was in my 20’s. I was better able to handle the challenges of having an energetic, colicky, speech delayed child when I was 33-34-35 than I would have ten years earlier.
    I am now on the way to 43 and she’s almost 10 and we are so very close. She is everything I would have ever wished for in a child of mine. We didn’t have any more after Grace and that was a conscious decision based on finances and health. BUT—- if I could have had more I would have, I would have kept going until mother nature forced me to stop.
    When I first heard you were going to have a late in life child, I was in awe and thought how amazing that you knew it was the right thing to do for you. I admired your tenacity and willingness to have another child although others may not have understood it. You have definitely been blessed with all your children and the world is lucky to hear your stories!
    Thank you for sharing!

    Natalie

    • Natalie,

      Your words are so loving and generous. I am so glad that you had Grace and that she has supplied grace in your life. And funny how now you realize that your timing was perfect and Grace and you fit together so well as the ages that you are. You words about my desire to have Andrew — all I can say is THANK YOU. It was a joyous time in my life and now whenever I talk to him or hug him or hear about his life the good feelings just continue.

      Thinking about you and wondering how the funeral was. Hope Velda is doing okay, Beth

  5. Oh, my! I love this post. The lead caught me. The writing flowed me through it. And the intent and words were beautiful. I like this and will tweet: “Motherhood is a big tent and it matters little if you step inside at 18 or 40, or somewhere in between.” <3 I love your attitude and openness about stretching, change, aging. Bravo.

    • Good Morning Leisa and thanks so much. And would you believe my son is the joy of my life and GETS me. So wonderful to have him. Miracles do happen. Beth

  6. I loved reading this! I do feel that every child is a gift and many mothers have this secret feeling that someone is waiting to be in our lives! It’s kind of magical!

    • Yes, that’s how I felt about Andrew. He was just waiting for me to decide when he would arrive–truly magical–and he still is that in my life. Thanks so much.

  7. This is so beautiful! I love that you followed your heart and were blessed with a sweet addition to your family! Makes me want to have another baby at 47! Wait! What am I saying! haha

    • Hi Karen,

      I know what you mean. It was a leap of faith when I talked my husband into it!! But we both agree Andrew has kept us young and he is so dear in our lives–a great decision. Thanks for reading, Beth

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