Following is a guest post by Humilta Abigail Holmes (From the Writing Box)How do I know anything about being an older mom? Well, I became pregnant at the age of 38. That’s older than the average woman is when she becomes pregnant for the first time.
In fact in recent history, women age 35 and older were referred to as having a geriatric pregnancy. Now the term is “advanced maternal age.” How crazy is that?
I’d been in my job for four years. Prior to that, I was self-employed and moved with my husband to West Yorkshire.
I had lived, seen places (though there’s many more places I’d like to see now that I have a little family). My nieces and nephews were growing and I had a basic understanding of child-rearing.
Being pregnant was a surprise for my partner and myself but when it happened, it seemed like the natural next step and not a total showstopper. Being pregnant didn’t interrupt my life.
My mother had me when she was 42. I was the last of five and a definite surprise. Because I was around kids from an early age, this had a bearing on my opinions about having children. I was in no hurry to.
The Benefits of Being an Older Mom
I’ve had my time to concentrate on my career
Being 25 when I left college, all I could think about was getting my foot on the career ladder.
I’ve been lucky to have had my growing up time.
My boyfriend (now husband) lived over 200 miles away then and we only saw each other three to four times a year. With keeping a long distance relationship going, having children was the last thing on my mind.
I’ve experienced some great things, being a parent is now one of the best.
Even when I was pregnant I still thought that it was too early for me. Thinking back, my partner and I were preparing for life together.
I’m a calmer parent
I take difficulties and setbacks in stride. I try to look for the positive in situations. I think that’s part of me growing up prior to having the responsibility of a child to look after.
Being older and more established in my life, I know where my head is (well most of the time). This has helped me to keep perspective in my parenting. It’s changed my life priorities. My friends have expanded, life is different and definitely better.
I’ve made lasting friendships
I didn’t have a social network when I had my child. My close friends and family were down South in London. My work friends were childless.
I was in a new part of the country with only my husband to really talk to which sometimes was overwhelming for him. He was going through the same mental changes if not the physical ones. So I needed an outside view.
Armed with my new baby I went to a local baby playgroup and was very fortunate to find a group of women, some of whom have become my close friends and support network, not only in parenting but in life and business as well.
Maybe my age helped me to be a little bit more confident when making friends or it was my determination to make friends no matter what. So I’m lucky to have found friends that are on my level and have the same sense of humor.
Now our children are growing up but the support my friends continue to give me is invaluable. I feel I’ve known them all my life and not just through having a child.
I have just finished booking our Christmas Meal. It’s a date where all of us get together and catch up. Some of us haven’t seen each other in ages and it’s like nothing has changed when we sit down. I can’t wait!
Having more time to volunteer at school
When my daughter started school I joined the Parent and Teacher Association (PTA). Using my business experience enabled me to get really involved in my child’s school life. I’m there for discos, events and sports days as well as helping with Christmas Fairs or fund-raisers.
The other day I helped out at school with Photo Day. If your little one’s at school you might know it; every child gets his or her picture taken and you as the parent can order the shots.
This gave me an opportunity not only to experience the school life but also to see my little girl in her own environment. I saw her talking and playing with her friends and learning in class.
She was happy to see me when she came out for lunch and wanted to help. It was a chance to create memories. When she’s grown up she’ll remember me being around in her school days, which is the way I like it.
Am I really too old to be a parent?
There are those who believe that being an older parent means that I should stop and take things slower. That I will run out of steam having to run around after a small child. But that’s just not the case.
Handling negative reactions
My biggest surprise was the reaction of my co-workers to my pregnancy. They assumed that because I was older than most of them, I should’ve already known what it was like to be a parent. And I should’ve been aware of the risks in a mature pregnancy; they asked me at different intervals and of varying intensity what I was going to do about those risks. Questions included:
- “What if it’s down syndrome? What are you going to do?”
- “What if there’s a difficulty during the birth?”
- “You know there’s a lot of risks for older women…”
I knew that whatever happened I was going to look after my child to the best of my ability. I had to. I was going to be a mother.
This didn’t seem good enough to my co-workers. I got the distinct impression that I was meant to research every risk possible and live through it so I would be ‘prepared’ which is crazy right? And then they asked:
- “Won’t you get too tired or bored at home? I’d get bored at home…”
- “Oh I thought you ought to know, So and so just had a stillbirth in case you see her and want to talk about the baby…”
Episodes like this had me worried at first, but then after some soul searching I realized that they were projecting their own concerns onto me. It was hard enough getting used to being pregnant. I didn’t have time to worry about things that hadn’t happened or may never happen.
Their reaction made me stop and think, I didn’t want to spend my parenthood worrying about my age and the risks I could suffer. I wanted to enjoy every moment with my child and my partner. And that’s exactly what I did.
Am I worried about being an older parent?
My answer is no. Having my daughter increased my energy and my activities. And as I mentioned earlier, my circle of friends broadened to a range of diverse and wonderful people that I might not have met if I wasn’t a mature parent.
However, there are some misconceptions about older parents:
- Will I have enough energy to run around after my little toddler?
- Can I keep up with the trends in my child’s life?
- Will I be around for my grandchildren?
I hear these concerns mainly from people yet to have kids but sometimes from older parents-to-be. We can’t escape the fact that we get older as our children grow but these concerns needn’t be a problem. Let me address some of these questions.
Q: Will I Have Enough Energy?
A: I’m Staying Active
I’ve changed my lifestyle habits and I’m more engaged with my child mainly because my goal is to always be there for her as long as I can. In order for me to do that I changed my lifestyle. I’m getting fitter and staying more active. Ensuring that I can keep up with my child. And my child keeps up with me.
Q: Can I Keep Up With The Trends In My Child’s Life?
A: I’m Listening And Learning
Listening to my child dissect the world and playback her findings to me is the most exhilarating experience. I’m learning from her constantly and to be honest, probably more than what she picks up from me.
Right now she’s just getting into music. A lot of the music she likes is remixed or covers of previous versions from my teens and 20’s. We talk about how that sound has changed. This gives her a real appreciation for what she’s listening to. And I still have my turntable so I’m getting her into vinyl.
Q: Will I Be Around For Grandchildren?
A: My Time Is Now
Being a parent has opened my eyes and changed my perspective on life. I’m so glad I’ve had an opportunity to have a child and cherish her growing up. So many of us today choose not to have the experience or can’t have it.
One thing I’ve come to realise is that these moments with my daughter are going by fast so I concentrate on the present. I stay active and if I’m around for when my kid has kids then that’s a bonus.
I’m Still Learning And Loving It!
There’s nothing like having a child and no amount of advice or observation could’ve fully prepared me for being a parent. It’s something that needs to be experienced in order to be appreciated and understood.
I’m still learning about parenting from young mums, older mums, single dads and stay-at-home parents. More importantly, I’m discovering more about me through my daughter. Insights I’d never have been aware of if it weren’t for her.
Now that’s a priceless learning opportunity that I’m blessed to have. As for my age – well, that’s just a number.
Are you an older parent? What tips do you have? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.
If you are you are looking for a fun way to connect with your little one, download our FREE PRINTABLE children’s story Skunk Needs Space.
Humilta Abigail Holmes is a freelance writer and designer. Her life experience enables her to engage readers and write robust posts on family and lifestyle topics. She can be seen most days marching along the streets of Cottingley, Bingley, enjoying the Yorkshire air and clocking up her steps.Connect with her at from the writing box.