I groaned as we unpacked the truck from our weekend camping trip. Every muscle in my body ached and I felt like I had been hit with a 2″x 4.” Did I do anything extraordinary to merit this pain? Save a drowning kid perhaps? Hike to the top of a high peak? Nah…. I slept on an air mattress and survived two nights without air conditioning. Pathetic, isn’t it? Welcome to life as an ‘older Mom.’
In all fairness, there are tons of older Moms who totally rock the active lifestyle. I am sorry to say I am not one of them. The difference between me and my ‘exercise-challenged’ younger Mom counterparts though, is that at 40-something… when you don’t move your body on a regular basis, your body creaks and screams like the tin man in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ The body is much more forgiving in your 20’s and 30’s.
10 Characteristics of the ‘Young Mom at 40’
I didn’t plan to be a first time Mom at the ‘advanced maternal age’ of 40, but sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way you planned, right? That is ok with me. There may be some downsides to being the oldest Mom at the playground. However, I would say the benefits are still pretty amazing. So, here is my list of Top 10 Characteristics of the ‘Young Mom at 40’:
- You have to conserve energy, so you are more careful where you expend it. I learned this lesson as a trial by fire when Sweet Pea was in the full-on, ‘don’t stop me now’ phase of toddlerhood (aka– right after they can walk but before they can navigate stairs without certain doom). One day we spent a few hours at an indoor playground and I marveled at the parents that had the energy for a game of pick-up with their kids. Then, I realized that a) they were at least 10 years younger than me and b) their kids were at least 4 years older than Sweet Pea. We were parenting in completely different universes. So, I chuckled, caught Sweet Pea as she launched herself down the slide, and patted myself on the back for just getting her out of the house on a rainy day. Mission accomplished Mom. Good for you!
- By the time you make it to 40, you have likely lived through many a trial. This hard earned experience has led to the growth of a ‘resilience reserve’ that helps you weather parenting ups and downs with a quiet determination, hard-won perspective, and a great sense of humor. In other words– you can discern whether or not the situation warrants the riot act, or maybe just a little tickle torture.
- You grew up in the 70’s and 80’s! That means you probably love technology but don’t feel the need to parent by it. Seriously– I can still remember when my parents purchased our first home computer. I was 13. It was a Commodore 64 and we used it primarily to play ‘Pac-Man’ and ‘Dig Dug.’ That was the life. The internet wasn’t a ‘thing’ until well into my college years. I sent my first email (on a computer with a black screen and green letters no less) when I was 22 years old. I didn’t own my first cell phone until I was 29! So, I really don’t feel the urge to let Sweet Pea spend endless hours on the iPad, and I am quite certain she will never have a TV in her bedroom.
- You have lived a full life that does not include anything related to parenting. Now, don’t get me wrong… I think it is great when women start families at young ages. Whatever works for you, right? However, I absolutely love the fact that I will have so many personal experiences to pull from when parenting Sweet Pea. There are so many situations I have faced– good and bad, in romance, friendship, my relationship with God, personal striving, work, etc… Also, I view every pre-baby adventure as a present I can’t wait to unwrap with Sweet Pea as we both ‘grow up.’
- You are less likely to take the sweet little moments of childhood for granted. If you started a family later in life, there is a greater probability that you suffered from infertility, or got married late, or both. I know that I dreamed and prayed for the opportunity to be a Mom for a long time before God blessed me with a baby. So, I would like to think that maybe I savor her a little more intensely. I know, every Mom loves their children fiercely. I am not trying to take away from another Mom’s experience at all. However, for those of us who had to wait a little longer, maybe the taste of motherhood is just a little sweeter because we were faced with the real possibility we would never know how sweet it could be.
- Because you grew up before life was hyper-regulated, you know that most of what we obsess over just won’t harm you. God made dirt, so dirt don’t hurt! Walking to school, riding bikes without helmets, laying in the back seat on the way home counting street lights until you fell asleep. I am sure the chemicals we ingested as kids will cause us to grow an extra head at some point… but in my quest to provide proper nutrition to Sweet Pea, I will not feel bad if that proper nutrition includes the occasional Double Stuffed Oreo.
- You are good at taking time for yourself and for the other ‘adult’ relationships in your life that are important. As much as your kid has changed your world for the better, they are not the center of the universe.
- You may be a generation (or two) removed from the Moms of your kid’s friends. However, things have changed a lot in the last 20 years. You are learning so much from younger Moms (many of whom could technically be your kids as well) and that exposure actually makes you… younger!
- Maybe you still work outside the home. Maybe you quit your job to stay home with your child. Either way, you can very easily assess the true value of both your career and being a Mommy. Work-Life balance is not just a catchphrase to you. Your choices about how you spend your time are deliberate. You can easily weigh the cost-benefit ratio of time spent in the office vs. time spent on the playground.
- Chances are, your support network is huge. If you live in close proximity to family, that is awesome! However, even if you don’t, you have probably forged a tight network of friends you can rely on. This is huge.. because let’s be honest. Parenting is huge… and no one can truly do it alone!
So, maybe I need to pop some Aleve so that I can more easily get on Sweet Pea’s level and dance like the dickens, chase fireflies, and play tag. That is ok. It is totally worth it. And as I tuck her into bed each night and thank God for the blessing that she is to me, I know on a visceral level that my best years are not behind me. I know that even though Sweet Pea will not get a ‘young Mom,’ this ‘young Mom at 40’ could not possibly love her more… and that, is ultimately the only thing that matters.
Thanks for reading!