Women are having children at an older age. More women are becoming parents in their late 30s and 40s. We can warn against waiting to have kids all we want, but having children in our 20s simply does not jive with the real lives of many women that age. We are creeping ever upwards for what women consider the ideal age to start a family. The older we get the less likely that our plans will work out, and we face pregnancy or adoptive parenthood in our 40s.
What are the realities of becoming a mom in your late 30s and 40s? While these may not be true for every woman, they are for many.
10 Truths About Being an Older Mom
- You will be diagnosed with “advanced maternal age”, “elderly primigravida”, or maybe even, heaven forbid “geriatric pregnancy” if you are pregnant over 35. My advice is to take the ostrich approach and simply not read the first page of your medical chart.
- It is harder to cope with lack of sleep. Parents of babies, toddlers, and even some older kids have to deal with interrupted sleep, and still function the next day. This gets harder as we age. It doesn’t get easier when they are teen,s and you are hosting the after-prom party or chaperoning the lock-in for the church youth group. #voiceofexperience
- It takes longer to recover from birth. Age is unfortunately more than just a number, and older bodies take longer to bounce back.
- It is harder than you think to give up your independence and routines. We may desperately want to become a mom, but the 24/7 realities of parenting can come as a shock to the system, and since you wanted this so badly and so publicly, it’s hard to complain.
- You will worry less about career advancement and money. Older parents are usually more stable in their careers and more financially secure. Money isn’t everything, but it ain’t nothing either.
- You will benefit from people’s assumption about your age. People assume when they see a woman with a baby that she is “young”. You will likely also have younger friends because you naturally find friends among the parents of your children’s friends. Younger friends keep us young. (However, note #8 below to keep you humble.)
- You will feel out of step with your peer group. Likely many of your existing friends are parenting older kids or teens or were part of your childless peer group. They will still be your friends, but the realities of your lives are very different.
- You will be mistaken as your child’s grandmother. Prepare for it—if you give birth in your 40s (and maybe even your late 30s) someone someday will make this mistake, and you will get to decide whether to take the high road or make a derisive comment about either their intelligence or eye sight.
- You will never be considered “cool” by your kids. Since I never really aspired to that label from my children, and since I don’t trust their judgment on what is cool, and since I know I’m cool regardless what they think, this hasn’t been a problem for me, but I thought I’d warn you anyway.
- You will appreciate your kids more. I don’t know if this is really true or just what I want to believe, but it sure seems to me that people who have wanted kids for so long and have had to work so hard to get them, are able to roll with the ups and downs of parenting with more gratitude and less sweating of the small stuff.
What did I leave out?
P.S. You might also enjoy Are You Too Old to Begin a Family at 40, 45, 50?
Image credit: Eric Peacock, Jian., U.S. Army
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Regarding the grandparent label, yes, I’ve experienced this. My new reply is “you must think I’m a grandparent because I look so wise.” We have an anti-aging culture and I’m not about to contribute to it by being insulted. Older people do have more knowledge and (sometimes) more wisdom. I’d rather go that way with my replies!
About the cool factor, I know a couple that had a child in their mid-40s. By high school their son thought his 60-ish parents were the coolest of all of his friends’ parents. Why? His parents didn’t fly off the handle as much, they dealt with him more with words and reason than yelling and suspision, and they did fun things with him (trips abroad and lots of sports events). Sometimes it does work in your favor.
There is also the grandchildren question as in will you live to see them. Already have told my son there are worse things he could do than knock someone up when he is 16!
Oh Jennifer, I have definitely not taken that approach! 🙂
I have had the “Joy” of being both a very young mom and an old mom… I’m not sure which is worse, watching someone figure out there is only 17 years difference in you and your daughters age or to have a massive hot flash at your 5 year olds preschool conferences! I have been a mom for 33 years… I definitely think being an older parent is better, you don’t worry so much about really silly stuff ( like homemade Halloween costumes and birthday party goodie bags), I seem to have more time, lots more $ and we really enjoy the little things! However getting old sucks and hopping up on the play set in the back yard is way harder when your 50 ?
Good point Ann about the down side to really young motherhood. You’re right that people do the mental math when they see a young mom with a child.
Your children might worry about your death. Mine do and I am only 45 and my kids are 8 and 9. Sad.
Very likely you will be a very old granny or possibly not even get to meet your grandchildren.
You will have more life experience which might make parenting easier.
Yolande, mine think I’m old, but I don’t think they think about me dying. Good points all.