Life is cruel. Each decade bleeds into the next. Eventually, all the stupid cliches you thought you would never understand start piercing through your very soul when you hear them:
Youth is wasted on the young!
You only live once!
Only a handful of my friends were starting families when we were younger. It’s not something I even considered, which is probably a good thing because I definitely wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t fantasizing about marriage, or children, or settling down; I was travelling the globe and nurturing my inner artist. I was working like a dog for 10 months straight so I could spend two months of the year spending all the money I had made wandering around the Greek Islands. If you had asked me then about starting a family, I would have stared at you with a blank face. Why worry about it? I was going to be young forever.
Finally, around my mid-30s, I started to remember that having children was something I really wanted. An unexpected miscarriage reminded me that endeavor was something that might not come as easy as I thought. We began trying to conceive.
I had no idea it would take us five years to get a pregnancy to stick. I had my first child when I was 38. I just had my second at 40. My early 30s were gone in the blink of an eye. They vanished. All of a sudden, I’m the old mom in playgroup. How did this happen?
Once I turned 40, I realized that every day that passed was bringing me closer to 50. There’s something about being closer to 50 than 30 that really makes my head spin. All of a sudden, I’m looking at the young moms at the park thinking, Wow. When your child graduates high school you’ll be my age. When my child graduates high school I’ll be 58.
You can really play the age game for hours. It’s not very fun, but I’ll tell you how to play anyway. All you have to do is start thinking of milestones in your children’s lives and insert your age into the equation. For example, when my son turns 30 I’ll be 68. When my daughter turns 30 I’ll be 70.
Holy shit. This game sucks. Forget I told you how to play it.
I never cared about the whole “advanced maternal age” thing, but suddenly, it’s bringing me down. I don’t want to be 70 years old at my daughter’s 30th birthday party. Heck, I don’t want to be 70 years old ever. Being an older mother is making me think about my mortality and it is freaking me out.
I also can’t help but think that I have deprived my mother of experiencing her grandchildren’s milestones by waiting so long to have children. My mother is in her 70s. Realistically, she probably won’t be around to see her grandchildren graduate college or get married. She won’t be able to see the type of parents they become. That makes me sad. It also makes me sad to think that if my children wait as long as I did to have kids of their own, there are many things I won’t be able to experience with my grandchildren either.
Ugh. Why am I even thinking about all of this stuff? I blame post-pregnancy hormones and Mercury in retrograde.
All the time I spent believing I had followed the right path – living it up early and settling down to start a family when I got older – I may have been wrong. I’m starting this whole motherhood thing really late. Did I make the wrong decisions here?
The few friends I have that had children early are now living it up – with older kids getting ready to leave the nest. They’re planning trips to Europe and posting pictures of themselves beaming with the thought of what their future has in store. I am covered in breast milk and running after a toddler all day. The tide has turned. They are approaching life with the abandon I had in my 20s while I am trying to figure out how I am going to keep up with these children for the next 18 years.
All of a sudden, starting a family when you are young doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.