12 May 2014

The Truth about Being an Older Mum.

Channel 5 rang me recently - would I like to comment on whatever-it-was-in-the-news-that-day slating becoming an 'older mum?'  They'd like to send a film crew round about 4pm.

'Sure,' I said.  'But don't you want to know what I'm going to say first....?'

The researcher stopped in her tracks and, as is usually the case, sounded about school age.  She'd thought her work was done, she'd got herself a nice easy little coup and all that was needed now was my address.  But having wasted my time on more than one occasion prior to the possibility of this one, I pressed her.  She tutted and sighed, put on her best patronising, begrudging and 'suppose so' voice, but eventually acquiesced to hearing my opinion, which was words to roughly this effect:

'Behind every first-time older mum is a history of heartbreak, that rarely does anyone set out to have their babies at such a late age as I did (41 and 45), that I wouldn't recommend waiting until early forties, or even late thirties to have children, that I and those of my friends who have had children 'older' without exception wish we'd had them when we were younger, that we all agree we might even have had more and regret running out of time, that we seem to struggle to a greater degree with the broken nights than our younger counterparts do, wishing we'd not trotted out tonnes of miles on treadmills in our twenties.  We can't distinguish between what's peri-menopausal and natural parental exhaustion exacerbated by tantrumming toddlers.  There were no medical complications whatsoever with either of my pregnancies and my miscarriages were more to do with other matters.'

This threw the whippersnapper rather and, within half an hour, the predictable call came - that the film crew was suddenly unavailable.

Funny, that.

It seems I was supposed to bang the drum for older mums.  They had presumed that I would want to wax lyrical about how great it is to be one.  

It is great to be an older mum but only because it's great to be a mum at all.  I'm not against it in principle - I am one - but would I personally advocate planning to be one?  The truth is that, no, I would not.

It's great to be an older mum because it's great to be a mum at all.
Those of us who came to motherhood late feel very, very lucky.  We suffer more separation anxiety than our children ever have or will.  We are definitely more clingy, more likely to spoil our children and we worry.

We worry that we will never live to see our grandchildren.  We worry that we won't be able to get up from the floor when playing trains / cars / Lego.  And we worry when we fail to locate our age-related reading glasses in time for a bedtime story or, more crucially, in order to be able to see properly to cut our kids' toenails - because we *might* have learned that when we try to wing it without our specs, we *might* accidentally stab the eldest's big toe, then with one hand nursing his foot and the other yanking loo roll to stem the blood, we *might* pull a bit too hard, elbowing him in the nose slapstick style and he *might* never forget, let alone forgive, us for also failing to stifle our laughter.

We also worry when we can no longer take them with us to watch whilst our Eyebrow Threader works on us because she's now all over our face and it doesn't do to alarm them like that. We worry about our by-now-acquired-penchant for decent wine and our indecent consumption of it.  And we worry when their three little words whilst we absorb their cuddles are 'You're going wrinkly!'

Although I treasure my travelling days and the life I lived before my children, would I trade it all in to, instead, gain what would be that extra twenty or so years with them?  The truth is that, yes, I would.

Something a teenage researcher organizing a stupid TV stunt could never comprehend.

What are your thoughts on first time older mums?

Thank you to all of you who voted me into the semi-finals of the Writers Category of the #BiB Awards.  You have given me a real lift.  If you'd like to see Older Single Mum in the finals, please find all the details for the next stage HERE!