16 May 2016

Janet Jackson (reportedly) Pregnant at 49 and Other Stuff.

Last week I was asked to write an article for Newsweek (no less!).  It was about 'Older Mum' stuff in response to word on the street about Janet Jackson expecting a baby at age 49.  This hasn't yet been confirmed but it hasn't been denied either, as the reporter pointed out in earnest as I tried to glean as much information as possible before rushing off something straight after work before the kids were whining for their tea.  The result is below.

I was rather proud they hardly edited a word, which kind of counteracted the lack of a fee and it really would be living the dream if, indeed, I had the nous to successfully manage both.

Gingerbread also asked me to write a piece for them - ('inspiring Single Parent stuff') which I called The Dark before the Dawn and BritMums recently hosted a piece I wrote about Blogging stuff -'Ploughing Your Own Furrow.'

So, it's not for lack of trying or completely out of the question, is it?  But it's yet to happen!

Someone who has always believed in me, however is the the lovely Izzie Anderton and I feel awful for not being around very much and to have let her down on the countless times she's tagged me on a variety of interesting posts, so I made a point of taking up the honour of being featured in her Blog Spot Interview' last week, which was great fun and I wanted to show my appreciation of her support for my 'stuff' over the years.

Anyway, back to the present point, I know some people who haven't lost hope of having a baby (or two) in their forties and although it's not ideal and people judge their motives, we don't really live in an ideal world.  More by luck than anything else, I was fortunate enough to manage it and this is what I had to say on the matter:-

So rumours are rife about Janet Jackson having a baby about a fortnight before her fiftieth birthday.  

How very dare she!

But when is the ideal time to do so?

Mine were born when I was 41 and 45, naturally conceived within a (woeful) marriage and oh, how I regret all that energy expended on a treadmill in my twenties and globe-trotting travelling in my thirties.

(O.K.  Not so much the latter.). 

The truth is that behind every mum of a certain age, there is a history of heartbreak.  Rarely is it intentional to have a baby just as we’re hitting the menopause and, believe you me, the two combined is not as nature intended.

Does that mean we shouldn’t do it, given the opportunity?

Not necessarily, no.

Does it mean we will be more tired?  Probably.

Does that make it illegal or immoral?  Nope.

What if we’ve yearned for children all our adult lives?  Does that make us wrong?

Perhaps we’re more grateful than those who are thrust into parenthood at an early age.  Perhaps we’ve plenty to offer the little tykes who turn up at an age that other people disapprove of.

Perhaps it’s a massive mistake.  Perhaps we should adopt one of the unwanted or unfortunate. 

Perhaps not.

They say ‘Man plans and Gods laughs.’  So it seems for women.

And if you’re clever and work hard, before you know it, you’ll be labelled a ‘Career Girl’ and everyone will assume you don’t want children, you’ve made a choice. 

Perhaps not, again.

I, for one, turned down opportunities to have babies with reprobates when I was younger.  As a child of a single mother with a decidedly ropey relationship with my father I didn’t fancy going it alone, didn’t think I could offer the best possible upbringing for my children, didn’t think it was fair on them.

And the irony?  Even at the ripe old age I am, decades later, I am doing it alone anyhow, stressed out of my skull trying to make ends meet, bringing up two beautiful, bright boys, acutely aware it’s not the best upbringing or fair on them.

They excel at school though.  Why?  

Perhaps being an older parent has its advantages.  Perhaps I appreciate the value of an education more than those half my age.

They are fit and healthy despite me being comparatively ancient when they came along.  Why?

They were the product of two perfectly good labours and births without complications or stitches, because I was old enough to trust my instincts, to see an Osteopath and an Acupuncturist all the way through my pregnancies so that my babies and I would be in the optimum possible place for when the time came and old enough to ignore the little whippersnapper nurses in the ward who thought they knew better, yet hadn’t ever gone through it themselves.

Grrrrr.

With age comes confidence.

Not confidence in men, though.  That‘s something else.  I still have terrible taste in them.

Perhaps, now, Janet Jackson is in a confident place.  She’s enjoying her third marriage with a much younger husband.  Perhaps it’s the right thing for them.

Could she have offered a child a better life when she was younger?

Perhaps she needed time to find herself, having grown up as part of one of the most famous families in the world. 

Perhaps now is the best time for her to devote her real self to motherhood, because, ultimately, if you’re going to bring a child into the world, the best gift you could ever give them is themselves too. 

Some of us take longer to get there than others, that’s all.

I wish her the very best of British.

She’ll very likely need it! 


janet jackson, pregnant at 49,
Janet Jackson allegedly pregnant at 49.  Image from Newsweek / Getty. 

11 comments:

  1. A great piece Anya - worth much more than the zero they paid you, I think you need to get an agent! Really lovely to hear about Gingerbread and BritMums too, well done you. You are having work published that is better than the stuff produced by a lot of 'full time' journos yet you are doing it alongside another job, kids and single parent life madness. I'd like to call you an inspiration. So I will. You are an inspiration. Cxxx

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    1. You are too kind but thank you. It's nice to fit in an article amongst the madness and I appreciate your understanding! I find it really easy when I'm given something specific but don't have the confidence or time to think things up and pitch stuff - and yet I should probably try, because writing makes me happy. Thank you for your support xxx

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  2. Well doe no all those published articles. On the subject of older mothers - if you can afford it like Janet Jackson can, then why not?

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    1. *Well done on.... I must have been writing with my toes, Sorry. And BTW, I woud't say that about Janet Jackson if she were 59. Even I have a cut off age - probably 52. 50 is too neat and relies too heavily on the round number.

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    2. Thanks Rachel. I'd have to agree with you numbers wise - it's not all about the money which seemed to be people's initial reactions. It's kind of why I didn't mention it, but it will definitely help!

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  3. My mum was 43 when she fell pregnant with me - very unusual 47yrs ago. It's definitely different and there are huge upsides to an older and wiser mum. I once wrote a blog post saying that I felt I would have been a great mum in my teens, awful in my 20's and definitely better when I fell pregnant at 36 and 40.

    The only thing I would say is, that as an older Mum, please prioritise looking after yourself as much as possible. Don't wait until you get a chronic illness like myself.

    Keep fit for your kids. My parents were a much older generation - Mum would have been the same age as the queen - and they did exercise for sport, not fitness. She therefore didn't keep her health, and it's been lonely to not have any parents since I was 36.

    However, we can only try our best - and I wouldn't want any Mum to feel guilty if something awful happens. I'm trying my best now - I might be limited, but doesn't mean I can't live a long long time ;)

    Also, I live in an area where there are lots of children who are not loved and cared for as they should be - better to be an older mum who adores her children, and maybe doesn't live as long, than someone younger who damages their esteem & little souls or worse.

    Well done for getting the message out there hun, I'm proud of you xxx

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    1. I've been thinking about this alot Lisa, since first reading it. Thank you for leaving such a long, thoughtful comment. I have to admit to not giving it much thought about how old / young my kids would be when I pop my clogs, although I felt quite strongly I wanted my eldest to have a sibling for when I did! I'm sorry you feel lonely having lost your parents at such a young age and it gave me a real pang to think my sons might suffer a similar consequence. But the truth is we can't plan these things anyway. A friend lost her fit and healthy husband when he was 45. He left two very young girls. And there are other parents who unfortunately leave this earth even younger than that. We have to be grateful for as long as we've got together. If I could turn the clock back and have my (very same) children when I was younger, then I would. I already encourage them to find a good woman each and get on with it in their twenties! Much love to you. XXX

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  4. I had my last (surprise) in my early forties and am on the fence about whether much older mums "should" have children. (Not that it's any of my business.) I think I came to the conclusion that we should look at nature. Although it's difficult to get pregnant in your 40's, there are lots of women who do anyway - without artificial means, I mean. I have a friend who had a baby at 47! However, once you get to an age where no mothers are having babies naturally, it's probably time to re-think. As Mummy Whisperer says, it's not fun growing up without your parents when everyone else's are still around.

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    1. I completely agree with you. When it happens naturally, there is no argument and although I was desperate for my children I had decided I wouldn't use artificial means. But, like you say, for those who choose to, is it any of our business? We are judged no matter what we do and the world would be a poorer place without people like Lisa. She really made me think though. Let's hope ours keep us young!

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  5. Thanks for the mention, Anya. It was an honour to feature you over on my blog as you have always been one of my favourites. Huge congratulations on all the published articles! I hope it leads to lots of paid work for you.
    As for age and becoming a mum... I guess it's up to the individual to decide when is the right time. I was 26 when my daughters came along and this was perfect for me. As long as you're healthy and able to commit to being a mum... I'm not sure that age should be seen as a negative.

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    1. It's all a pleasure Izzie and I hope it makes up in some small part for not doing my bit on the other things, I'm sorry for. And thank you for your kind words. We'll have to see what fate has in store I suppose. RE being an older mum - we all wish we'd had our children younger, but it simply doesn't work out like that for some of us. I'm glad it did for you! XX

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