Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Says We're Older Moms? Where I Live ... Not So Much

Yesterday I attended the Halloween picnic of my local parents-of-multiples club.

There were tons of new moms, and moms with two, three, four and almost five-year-old twins. Lots of us were over 35 when we gave birth.

I live on the west side of Los Angeles, a relatively affluent area, where multiples -- naturally occurring and "assisted" (in the parlance of the infertility world) -- are plentiful. Older moms are more likely to have twins than young moms, and then there are moms with fertility issues who are fortunate enough to be able to shoulder the expense of assisted reproduction. Our club has plenty of both.

My kids attend a private preschool, where nearly all the moms are at least over thirty, and many are my contemporaries.

And when I go to kid-friendly restaurants, local parks and museums, I often see moms who are clearly my peers.

I know this is far from the norm in many parts of the country. But I'm comforted to see I'm far from alone around here: I have plenty of moms with whom I can trade notes, compare war stories, and commiserate.

When I hang out with moms who were born AFTER 1973, I find that some of them can be more overwhelmed more easily; they seem equally exhausted, though they don't have age as an excuse; and they look to me for advice even if their kids are the same age as mine. It matters not that I've only been doing motherhood as long as they have. I'm older, therefore they figure I oughtta know what I'm doing. Either that, or being a mom of twins makes me a more seasoned veteran in their eyes.

In truth I'm plenty befuddled by motherhood at times, even though I deign to blog about it. Though I've obtained a wealth of information about it in a short but intense period of time, I'm still making rookie mistakes at each new phase.

But I do feel something I think many younger moms don't. I feel the days are simultaneously long -- when I'm tending to my kids' incessant needs and requests -- and ruthlessly short when I'm savoring the rare quiet moment snuggling with them before bed. I feel pressed for time and wanting to stretch out the good stuff -- the golden afternoons when the sun glints in their hair and a few strands fall just so over their foreheads, when they're in dad's arms, turned upside down and giggling with abandonment, when they're having earnest conversations in the bath about what kind of cake they want at their upcoming fourth birthday -- or just now, when their dad called me into their bedroom to show me what Thing 1 had done. He'd gotten up from bed and taken out every pull-up in the closet and arranged them in two arcs fanning out, sorted by the ones that feature Lightning McQueen and the ones that feature Lightning's pal Mater (characters in CARS). Sure I want the boy to go to sleep already, but his late-night mischief is cute and he knows it: he smiled through his binky as I came in to inspect his project.

I have a sense of the temporary, the ephemeral, the way it's all slipping by so fast -- and feel a lot less fresh and immortal than my younger mom pals.

Here on the west side of L.A., there are a lot of us dragging our feet trying to slow down the gears of the "circle game," as Joni Mitchell called it. We're late blooming moms, and that means we feel that carousel going round a little faster than others. Sure, I was impatient for Thing 1 and Thing 2 to be toilet-trained, and I long for the day they'll give up the binkies already. But yet ... not so fast, please. I like the ride and I'm far from ready to get off.

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