Monday, January 11, 2010

Why Being A Mom Later Is Better, And Why It's Not

I started this blog two years ago to write about my misadventures as a late-blooming, AKA later-in-life, mom. Reflecting on those two years, in which my kids aged from three to five, here's what I think's better about being a mom later in life:

It sounds corny, I know, but I have a greater sense of time's fleeting nature and therefore savor moments with my kids in ways I don't think I would have, had I had them say, five or ten years earlier. I sometimes catch myself holding a little hand in mine a little tighter, and making a mental note to register the sensation of the warmth of that hand, and the casual but sure way it holds mine back for security, safety, and reassurance.
 I plan events like that trip to Disneyland for their birthday months in advance, making sure everything's arranged to make it a great day they'll remember (even though it included Thing 2 peeing on her underwear because we didn't quite get to the toilet in time; she sure was glad of that spare pair I just happened to have packed). I make sure they get out in nature, have time to just set their own agendas at the park or at home, and get exclusive one-on-one time with each parent. I take them exploring -- new places, new experiences, new foods -- because that is what my parents did for me. And I think of my own parents every day, knowing what they're missing because they're not around anymore, but appreciating that I can do for my kids some of what my parents did for me.

I'm not saying that younger moms don't savor the moment, or make sure their kids take a lot of bites out of life's banquet.

But I know how consciously I do it. I think I am aware in a way they may not be.

On the other hand, here's where younger moms have it all over me:

I know for a fact that I had more get-up-and-go in my twenties and thirties than I have in my forties. Here is is, 9:30 p.m., and I am nearly ready to pass out. But catch me a decade ago and I would've said the night was just beginning.

I feel like the five years of child-rearing have aged me ten years. I'd have the gray hairs to prove it if I didn't go to the hairdresser to hide them. I remember well how much time I used to have, pre-kids, to exercise and stay in shape (ah, those long work-out sessions at the Y, and the three-hour bike rides along the beach). Now I manage about 30 minutes on an exercise bike, 2 or 3 times a week if I'm really good at juggling all I've got to do between kids and work, and not down with the latest cold the kids have brought home to share. I use wimpy, five-pound free weights, and spend maybe ten minutes on mat exercises. My body is NOT toned as a result. I am not really a lot more flexible. But I am sorta kinda hanging on, maintaining what I have. And let's not even get started on what bearing twins has done to my body. Suffice it to say, hernia surgery, from which I am still in daily pain many months after the last stitch was sewn.

I used to bounce back quickly from a bad night sleep. I rarely needed a nap. And I could stay up, up, up, with little consequence. Now, I can barely stay awake through the ten-dollar movie on date night.

All this means that the patience I'm supposed to have with my kids, a supposed gift gleaned from years of living life and gaining experience, runs out amazingly quickly after five p.m. Five to nine p.m. -- when, if I'm in luck, they're certifiably asleep -- are my personal "witching hours," when they're at their worst, and sadly, so am I.

Still, overall, I suppose the trade-off -- less energy, but a heightened appreciation for what I have -- isn't bad. The child in me, who still wants it all at my ripe mid-life age, asks, why does there have to be a trade-off? But the grown-up, who has long learned to live with life as it comes, answers, "get over it." Happily, there are two things I still haven't gotten over: Thing 1 and Thing 2. It's some kind of miracle, after all, that I managed to have kids later in life when, for a time, it seemed doubtful I'd have one, let alone two. I'm deeply appreciative that they're here. And, just to be clear, deeply grateful they're asleep in the next room at this moment. Because Late Blooming Mom is whupped. Happy. But whupped.


Karen said...

Like :)

William V. Madison said...

I gotta tell ya -- all those twentysomething moms are wiped out by 9:30, too. I've known them. I've seen it. Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying or delusional.

About the grey hair, though -- yep, the younger moms have the edge there. But in the immortal words of Margaret Hamilton, "All in good time, my pretty! All in good time!"

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think you've channeled me! I also got started on the marriage and mom thing later on. I'm not exhausted by 9:30. I'm exhausted all the time! That's just the way it is! My kids are 4 and 6...I'll be 45 this year.

I look forward to checking our more of your posts. I've just started to blog...check mine out-I'd love the feedback.

Thanks, Judy

Late Blooming Mom said...

thanks Judy, I'll be visiting your blog too!