Not all older mums choose to be older mums; there are all sorts of reasons why some people have children later in life… My earlier life-story isn’t relevant here, but I became an older mum to two amazing children, now amazing adults,
As part of the challenge a friend and I have set ourselves – writing 73 different types of blog, I have reached ‘Expert Advice‘; a couple of days ago I was pondering on this right here, wondering what I am an expert in, or what I could comment on as an expert. About the only thing is writing – and most of the 73 challenge so far has seen me writing about writing… My daughter happened to be passing my writing room door and suggested I am an expert older mum… well, it’s very flattering to have my child think that, and if she thinks so…
I have been pondering on this, and have decided that I will share some of my experiences, and maybe from them people can see some ideas and thoughts which might be interpreted as expert advice…
I’d got to a stage in my life when I thought I’d never be in a situation where having children was on the agenda. Unexpectedly, completely out of the blue I not only found I had a partner but he wanted children and it became a possibility for me. I was seeing the doctor about something unrelated and asked if she had any advice for me and she looked at my age and said it was highly unlikely I would conceive with my advanced years (I wasn’t yet forty) and my husband was so elderly (four years older than me) the whole thing was just about impossible. My husband and I talked this over and took a practical stand – if we were fortunate enough to have children (old Methuselah and me) then fabulous, if we didn’t then we’d enjoy our life together and make it as fulfilling as possible.
… so I had two children over the next three years, and if things had worked out differently, we would have had several more.
OK… expert advice… or advice anyway if you don’t think I’m an expert:
- you never know what life has in store for you so don’t give up hope, but at the same time have a plan B for your future happiness
- people you expect to know about such things, aren’t always right
My pregnancies weren’t without incident, and for all of them I had to spend time in hospital. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it – I’d done all that I could in terms of living healthily, so I just had to accept whatever happened to me – and to the babies. I was so fortunate that everything went well, I remained alright and both my children were born perfect.
We were living far away from our families; my mum had died ten years previously, my father-in- law two years before we married. None of our close friends lived very nearby, and none of them had babies as they’d had their families when they were in their twenties, not like us antediluvian first time parents. If I’d been younger, I might have felt isolated and alone, however, having had so many life experiences and being more mature (as doctors kept reminding me) I guess we were more laid back and didn’t get as anxious or frightened as some first time mums and dads do…. and I guess laid back was our style of parenting too.
As the babies became children, we certainly did have rules – and I guess we were quite strict (but not rigid) about some things. We always ate sitting at table,for example, the TV wasn’t always on, manners were important, respecting other people, being loving and kind, being polite,…
- keep calm, trust yourself, the phrase ‘worse things happen at sea’ is well worth keeping in mind when someone refuses to eat something, breaks something, doesn’t want to go to sleep etc. The child is not going to starve because it doesn’t like green vegetables or won’t eat its crusts – it doesn’t need an alternative to what’s on its plate
- be flexible and adaptable… times have definitely changed since we were kids and rigid parenting was probably never right, so do what seems best and sensible (you’re older so you know what’s sensible and what’s ridiculous – modern fads are probably just as ridiculous too)
One thing I did slightly worry about was seeming like a grandma compared to other mums once they started going to activities…. I just tried to be myself… I may not have had the same interests as some young mothers, the same taste in music, or the same fashion sense (I confess I have hardly any fashion sense) but we all had kids and I soon made friends of my own, including people I’m still friendly with now.
One thing I did notice, some mums were really struggling with not having the same freedom as BK – before kids, being an all-day mum and then an all-evening mum was tiring and frustrating, and some people felt really trapped and were in fact quite down. As an older mum I have to say I didn’t find this – I’d had my freedom all through my teens, my twenties and my thirties! I’d gone out, partied, pubbed, danced, done silly things, been a bit irresponsible, been selfish, done what I wanted do. Now I loved every minute of having my children, and didn’t mind staying in – I knew my time would come again when they were older and independent. As I mentioned we didn’t have family nearby, but we had the resources to entertain ourselves at home – I was beginning to write seriously, my husband was still involved in music and enjoying being in a band.
- you’ve had your time gadding about – you’ve had your work and your fun and your social life, now you’re lucky enough to be able to fully enjoy being a mum!! Your gadding about can begin again once they’re out with their pals!!
Just as a rider, if the children become involved in their own social activities such as sports, Rainbows/Beavers, having mates round to play and going to their houses too, then you do have that extra bit of time to do your own things. Even when the children are tiny there are plenty of activities which involve other children – accompanied by other parents who you can chat and natter to!
One thing my daughter and I comment on, now she’s a grown-up, is how good our relationship is, how much we enjoy each other’s company, and yet we are still mum and daughter – we are not best friends; it puzzles me when people talk about their children and say ‘oh s/he’s my best friend…’ No, no s/he isn’t! However old s/he is, s/he’s your child not your friend; you can get on really well, you can be really close, you can be each other’s confidant, but you are not best friends. One is a parent, one is a child. As an older mum this is patently obvious!
- you are your child’s mother, not their best friend
There are aspects of being older when you have children which are more challenging to cope with, for example finances – especially if your children want to go to university, but I feel so lucky to be an older mum – I think I am better at is as an older person… I would have struggled when I was younger!!
Us old fogeys and the nippers