Monday, February 2, 2009

The Late Blooming Mom Delusion


I didn't plan on becoming a mom later in life.

But getting married at 37, and miscarrying a few times, sealed the deal.

Still, I thought sure there'd be all these advantages to my older mom status.

Already established in the working world, I had a career of sorts, with some earning potential, skills, pride in my abilities, and a professional identity. My own mom, who'd popped out both her babies before turning 30, never enjoyed those advantages.

I had more money than when I was in younger, and way more life experience. I counted on both of these things to stand me in good stead for later-in-life motherhood. In short, I expected to be a financially and professionally secure woman who also possessed the patience, maturity and wisdom that living as a grown-up for a good long while provides.

Man -- or in this case, woman -- plans, and God laughs.


These days, nobody seems to be financially secure. The nest egg has been cracked open just to pay the fixed costs of living: thank you, Darth Cheney & co., for leaving everybody worse off than when you got elected (oh wait, you didn't exactly get elected that first time, did you?).

Nobody's job is secure anymore either. (See Darth Cheney & co. reference above). Just last week I survived the latest round of corporate layoffs. Who knows how long that particular bullet can be dodged.

And then there's the patience, maturity and wisdom. I really think I was delusional when I contemplated later-in-life motherhood from my last few weeks of pregnant-with-twins bed rest and calmly assured myself I had much greater fonts of all three than I might've earlier in life.

Maybe it was the hormones, but I was wildly off the mark.

I don't know any twenty-something moms these days, and only know a few under 35. The few I know in that category strike me as serene and earth mother-ish in their Zen-like tranquility.

Yet those of us 35 or especially those of us 40+ have many teeth-gritting, foot-stamping, door-slamming moments. Raise your hand now if you have yelled, screamed, and stormed out of your own house in furious frustration, leaving your spouse alone to handle a willful little beast of a toddler -- or two.

I haven't done this often. Neither has Late Blooming Dad. But we've both been guilty of it. And then felt guilty about it later. There's nothing like a full-on case of mom or dad guilt, is there? Yet the kids are more resilient than we think, and seem to roll with it easier. The few times I've stormed out, I've returned to find my kids wanting hugs and kisses and attention. They see that anger doesn't end our relationship, and when I apologize, all is quickly forgiven.

Still, I'm taken aback by the sheer power of emotions one or two difficult little beings under 35 pounds can stir up in me.

Before I was a parent, I used to meditate, do yoga, go on long, meditative bike rides, exercise three times a week. I've done precious little of any of that since parenthood began, because there simply isn't time.

Maybe it's no wonder my dream of being a patient Zen earth mother hasn't come to pass. Or maybe those younger moms who seem to be patient Zen earth mothers are just putting one over on the rest of us: behind closed doors, after cleaning up the hundredth toddler-caused disaster of the week, they're storming out too.

I do still believe later-in-life moms have a different perspective on motherhood. But as far as patience, maturity and wisdom go, well, we don't have much time for them either. It's all about getting the chicken nuggets on the table before the whining gets worse.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Don't kid yourself -- the patience, maturity and wisdom snuck up on you when you weren't looking.

You just haven't reached the Zen Mom Nirvana Perfection yet -- but you wouldn't be a Virgo if you didn't have that as a goal! :)