Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why I'm Totally Okay with Being an "Old Mom"

The other evening I was shopping at a discount jewelry know the type--plush emoji keychains next to the cash register and a 17 year old chatty clerk?  The gal checking out in front of me had her toddler son with her, and after they left, the cashier told me, "that's my favorite kind of kid--the kind you can play with and then send home!  My boyfriend--he's 19--he says he could see being a dad in the next 5-7 years, but I told him if that's his goal, it won't be with me! I can't take care of a kid--I'm still a kid myself! And I'll still be in school!  I mean--criminal forensics, am I right?"

I wanted to say, " are SO right."  But not because of the criminal forensics.  Instead, I just smiled and said, "you have plenty of time. I was 35 before I had my son."  

I can understand--17 Year Old Me didn't want to have a kid yet either.  17 Year Old Me was just excited to have a pile of college scholarships so she could move 2 hours away from home and try her hand at adulting.  She had dreams of finishing school and being a journalist.
17 Year Old Me, headed to prom. (I loved that dress. Totally felt like Jessica Rabbit.)

But 17 Year Old Me thought that 24 Year Old Me would probably have a baby.  When 24 Year Old Me didn't have a baby, she thought, "that's okay--29 Year Old Me will probably have a baby.  After all, that's about how old my mom was when she had me."  But 29 Year Old Me didn't have a baby either--in fact, 29 Year Old Me had just started dating her now-husband.

2009: The adventure begins.

Now, in retrospect, I know that everything happens in its due time, and when it's supposed to.  Yes, I may be the "old mom" at day care and school functions.  Yes, I'll be considering AARP benefits when my son graduates from high school.  I will likely NOT be a MILF.  And I'm totally okay with that.  And here's a few of the reasons why.

1.  No Debt:  Babies cost money. Doctor bills, diapers, food, wipes, bottles, ain't cheap.  The average cost of raising a child in the U.S. is about $12,000/year.  If you're struggling with car payments, credit cards, a mortgage, student loan debt, etc, bringing home an extra piehole to feed can cause a lot of financial and marital strife.  My husband and I did our best upon getting married to throw a lot of extra cash at our debts, and have been living debt-free for a few years now.  So while our monthly budget will require some additional categories now that Baby J is here, we will never have to make a choice between feeding him or making a car payment, no matter how dire our circumstances get.  Neither 24 nor 29 Year Old Me would have been debt-free, and both would have really struggled to pay off those hospital bills. Heck--24 Year Old Me was working 3 jobs to try & pay off a lot of Stupid Tax she racked up in college. ("Free t-shirt if I sign up for a credit card?  SURE! I'll only use it for emergencies..."  Later: "Pizza is an emergency, right?")
Cheesemonger by day, pizza delivery wench by night...grad assistant somewhere in between.

2.  Good Career:  The Hubs & I have each been in our careers for about 10-12 years.  We like our jobs, we have good benefits, and we have good, [relatively] secure incomes. *knock on wood*  24 Year Old Me was still trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, since she had just graduated with a degree in Mass Media, but suddenly felt the urge to become an environmental scientist.  24 Year Old Me probably would not have been able to pursue her Master's degree if she'd had a baby.  29 Year Old Me was just realizing that she no longer liked working for the company that she was with---however, if she'd had a baby at home to worry about, she probably would have stayed there, even though she felt like she'd sold her soul to the oil industry. She might not have moved back to Missouri and started at the company she's at now, where she's much happier.

3.  Family Nearby: 24 and 29 Year Old Me's both lived in Louisiana.  Which is awesome, don't get me wrong, but they were also 12 hours away from their mom.  Having now been through those first few months, I would NOT have wanted to cope with a new baby without my mom being there to help.  And a 12 hour drive to visit for the holidays with a baby in the car?  No thank you.  It would have been really limiting.  While I miss my friends down in Louisiana, I never regret moving back to Missouri to be closer to my family.  And while our parents don't live super-close to us, having them just a couple hours away has been really nice, both for us and Baby J.  I wouldn't have wanted my parents to never get to see their grandkid, and I wouldn't have wanted Lil' Man to miss out on getting to know them either.

4.  Time to "Just Be Us":  The Hubs & I got hitched when we were 32 & 31, respectively.  But we didn't want to start trying to have a kiddo right away.  We took time to get used to living together, figuring out each other's habits, learning to communicate as a married couple.  We had weekly Date Nights, traveled to Europe, Mexico, Canada, and around the U.S.  We bought [and sold] a business together.  We shelled out a lot of cash to go see a World Series game.
Game 1 of the 2011 Series. Geaux Cards! (Rally Squirrel and all that.)
These are things that might not have happened (at least, not right away) if we'd gotten preggo right after getting hitched.  I feel like we work together better as a team because we had that time alone together.  Granted--there are days I see a commercial for the Bahamas and think, "man...can't do that again for a while". But the important word in that sentence is "again".  Been there, done that, drank a crap-ton of mojitos.  Our "Book of Us" has a lot of chapters before Baby J makes an appearance, and it makes our story that much richer.
2015: Chichen Itza.  Technically, Baby J was on this trip too, though we didn't know it yet.

5.  The Moms Who Went Before:  24 Year Old Me did NOT have a network of mom friends who could have helped her navigate the Class V rapids of new parenthood. Nor did she have mom friends who were more than willing to drop off tons of maternity clothes, baby clothes, baby gear, etc. because their kiddos had already outgrown them.  #freestuff!!!  
Baby J's godmother T and her daughter.  Without her, my wedding AND my nursery would never have come together so well.

35 Year Old Me is sometimes a *little* sad that most of her friends' kids are quite a bit older than Baby J, which gives them a lot more freedom, not to mention the ability to ask their child, "What is WRONG?" and actually get an intelligible answer. I have some friends from high school who's kids are now in high school--they can just...go out... and leave their kids at home!  Meanwhile 35 Year Old Me has to plan ahead, find a sitter, or cart a diaper bag with her everywhere.  So yeah, I'm a little jealous.   

But thankfully, a few of my fellow 30-Something Moms have recently either had a new baby or are working on it, so Baby J will have some built-in friends his own age, and I will have a gaggle of moms who understand the struggle of being "advanced maternal age".  Not to mention, now I can be the one to pass along maternity clothes and baby gear to them, because hey:  #sharethewealth
Baby J's twin from anotha' motha--my friend Brandy had just given birth to Baby G when we were headed to the hospital. I see some joint birthday parties in our future.

6.  Maturity:   24 Year Old Me was surrounded by other young singles who worked crappy jobs and then partied it up after work...aka, we were still just kids ourselves.  Hell--24 Year Old Me blacked out at an Eddie Money concert because she couldn't be trusted to remember to do something as simple as, oh yeah, EAT DINNER before you start drinking.
Not to mention 24 Year Old Me would have gotten choked the eff out when her kid started pulling on that necklace.

24 Year Old Me didn't have a 401k, and was still on her parent's health & auto insurance policies. [35 Year Old Me still shares a cell phone plan with her parents, but that's for cost-savings. Bygones.]  24 Year Old Me had never applied for a loan on her own, and couldn't be trusted to remember to mow her lawn or empty the litter box regularly. 24 Year Old Me didn't have Facebook to reach out to a network of friends and relatives across remote distances.  24 Year Old Me was willing to be in a romantic relationship with an emotionally abusive guy because hey, it was better than being alone.  

29 Year Old Me was a vast improvement, but she lived under the "work hard play hard" mentality, spending 50+ hours a week on the job and only saw her boyfriend [now The Hubs] on the weekends and Wednesday nights, so she could work long hours, and go out & party, and let dishes sit in the sink for 2 weeks.  29 Year Old Me didn't balance her checkbook and shelled out $30 overdraft fees at least once a month. 29 Year Old Me *probably* occasionally drove home from the bar when she really should have caught a ride.

None of those Me's were ready to be selfless enough or responsible enough to take care of a helpless human being.


Now, at 35, we have our perfect baby.  I'm not saying he's perfect, and I'm definitely not saying I'M perfect.  Sleepless nights are a challenge, and when he starts being more mobile I anticipate a lot of backaches and "wait for mommy!"  At some point the grays will start to outnumber the browns and I will feel the need to start dyeing my hair.  Even now, I wonder if we will "have time" to make him a sibling, given that it took us 2 years and several rounds of fertility drugs to make him.

But that's okay.  Because it's not about MY timing.  What I have in mind has very little bearing on the situation.  Maybe he will be an only.  Maybe he will have a biological sibling.  Maybe we will decide to foster or adopt.  Any of those things are OKAY.  And whatever happens, whenever it happens, it will be the perfect time.

To see the entire "Adventures in Parenting" Series, click here.


  1. Had my son at 35. He's 2.5 now and looking back I know it was the best decision... For all the reasons you listed and more. Cheers to AMA!

    1. There should be an official AMA Mom's handshake or salute...or perhaps just a nod and knowing look, since our hands are probably full. :)