For a long time I was an anomaly among my friends. Most were married in their 20s and started their families then. I watched and waited as I went through my days of being single. I did some more waiting and dating while I held babies and changed diapers. This was never easy for me as all I wanted was a partner in life and to have babies of my own. I did not meet my partner in life until I was almost 32 years old. This felt downright elderly in comparison to my group of friends. Married at 33 and a mom at 35 (after a lot of fertility treatments) and you know what? I would not change it for the world.
When I would go to my OB appointments while pregnant, the words “advanced maternal age” was constant. I would laugh as I certainly did not feel “old.” What was even more interesting was my OB told me that I was on the younger side of her practice and that the average age of women seen was 38 years! That blew my mind! While I understood that more women were waiting for various reasons to have children, in my group of friends, this was not the case.
What have I learned (so far) from being an older married woman and an older mom? I’ll first start with the harder parts:
1. I spent a lot of years wondering what was wrong with me that I was not married.
2. I felt extreme jealousy of my friends, people I love, because they had what I so desperately wanted. It was a horrible feeling.
3. I am tired. Like every mom, no matter the age, we are tired. With me though I am a 39-year-old tired, which I believe is a different level of tired than a 29-year-old tired.
4. I am at a different part of my life than my other friends as they have older kids. This can be hard in terms of coordinating a joint family night out. Our bedtime is earlier than theirs.
5. In terms of trying to get pregnant again, even with fertility treatments, it did not work. My 39 year old body is telling me something. It is not meant to be.
These are the great parts:
1. I had already done a lot of time on the couch for many reasons and therefore my self was pretty well put together by the time I met my husband.
2. I had the luxury of observing: my brother and sister-in-law become parents before the age of 30. I learned and am still learning so much from them. I always use a great line from my sister-in-law when my daughter is acting out: “I love you but [insert what the consequence is here].”
3. I am in awe of my daughter. Constantly. I mean every day. I still cannot believe I helped to create her. I will never take her for granted.
5. I am a calmer mom. Since I was an active friend when my friends had their kids, I learned a lot by watching. I could see what pushed buttons. I could see things that I could let go of. I can allow my daughter to go play with her friends and not hover (as my husband does!). I am able to give her the space to be 4 years old and to find out what that means for her.
I am turning 40 in June and I honestly cannot believe it. I don’t know what it is supposed to feel like but I know that I am extremely lucky to be turning 40 and have a wonderful husband and a sparkly daughter. Age is just a number, right?