Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hard Happiness

In the book THE ART OF PARENTING TWINS, co-author Patricia Malmstrom refers to twins as "hard happiness." As a mom of twins, I concur: having twins to raise is a great blessing and simultaneously a great challenge. But I think being a late blooming mom is hard happiness too, for very different reasons.

It took me a long, hard, three-year-plus road from saying to my husband, "Let's try to have a baby," to actually giving birth. Having a successful pregnancy was a challenge for me because of my "advanced maternal age." Not that many of my eggs were still good. And after the devastating lows of suffering several miscarriages, giving birth to a healthy baby -- let alone two -- was an incredible high. The joy we experienced after so many years of struggle, longing, emotional and physical wear and tear, was immeasurable.

I think it's the same for a lot of late blooming moms. Many of us have had a long, hard road to get to become moms, so we appreciate the very fact of our kids' existence in a different way than moms who had a smooth ride from easy conception to an uncomplicated birth.

The happiness is hard because it was hard to achieve.

But it's also hard because having kids later in life means, for some of us, that all the grandparents aren't around to share in the happiness. Both my parents were long gone before I even got married, let alone brought my kids into the world. I'm very happy to have my in-laws, who are super grandparents, willing to travel great distances to see us several times a year. But I do wish my parents could know my kids, and vice versa. I get very wistful sometimes about this, knowing the only way my kids will know my parents is through me -- telling them stories, showing them pictures, and exhibiting the traits, attitudes and values that were passed on to me.

The happiness of later in life parenthood is also hard because let's face it, we older moms and dads don't have the same energy level as our younger counterparts. I swear I'd be enjoying motherhood oh so much more if I weren't so exhausted all the time. And I know I wasn't this tired ten years ago.

Having lived a bit longer before having kids than is the norm, I also have a more acute sense of the fragility of life and the tenuousness of every day existence. When I hold my son's little hand as he falls asleep next to me, or when I look in the rear view mirror and catch my daughter's face in the midst of a gigglefest, I am aware of how I'm savoring the moment. I know too well that moments are fleeting.

Confession: I worry about not being around long enough to see my own kids married and having kids. Truth is, I worry about not being around to see them through high school. I'm healthy and fit (when I'm not battling the colds the kids bring home), but knowing my own mom only made it to 58 nags in the back of my mind. I want to do everything possible to be sure I'm here longer -- much longer.

My infertility ended happily, in twin fertility -- but it was a happiness hard-earned. My later-in-life momhood is largely happy too, but comes with all the exhaustions of middle age combined with the typical parental frustrations of handling that fearsome creature known as the toddler -- in my case, times two. So I'm no stranger to hard happiness. My guess is, a lot of you aren't either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize your mother was so young when she passed away, Holly. That was sobering to read.