I’m that older mom. You know, the oldest mom with the youngest kids everywhere she goes? I didn’t set out to be here, yet here I am.
When I was in my twenties, I didn’t stop to think much about what life and motherhood would hold in my forties and beyond. I’m 50 now (eek!) and truth be told, my twenties are a bit of a blur. I was focused on career, relationships and having fun. I didn’t waste time wondering what I’d be doing at midlife. Because that was far in the future. And because 40-something was, well, old. Fifty? Fifty was crypt-keeper old.
If 20-something me could take a peek into the future and see what her life were to look like at 50, I doubt she’d have listed “parenting small children,” “cleaning up pee,” and “cutting the crusts off sandwiches” or “explaining why fish don’t have eyelashes” as something she’d be doing. But, that’s just what I’m doing. I’m now one of those “older moms.” I’m the oldest mom on the playground, at my kids’ school, at the pediatrician, at Target, and, well, pretty much everywhere. I am always the oldest mom with the youngest kids. Always.
It doesn’t matter that I might be able to run circles around some of the young moms (or at least keep up with them). It doesn’t matter that my clothes are relatively stylish or that I don’t have a visible gray hair. I am the oldest, and I’m far past the age where being the oldest is cool.
We’ve all heard young moms say things like, “I want to be a young mom so my kids and I can grow up together” or “I want my kids to be young when I’m young.”
I am that older mom
But, things like, “I want to have little kids when I’m in the throes of menopause so they can interrupt the sleep I desperately need at my age to keep me from looking like a hag in the morning” are said by no one ever.
While this may not have been in my plans when I was in my 20s, life took some twists and turns that led me to this crazy train of a life I lead. And I like it that way.
There are advantages to being that older mom. While we’re not exactly rolling in money, we’re financially stable.
Extreme penny-pinching and living paycheck-to-paycheck are in the past. We eat boxed macaroni and cheese three-plus times a week because that’s all my picky kids will eat, not because it’s what we can afford.
But man, am I ever tired.
There’s a certain amount of “Namaste” and self-confidence that comes with being the older mom.
Or maybe just being older and tireder.
I don’t stress over whether I’m doing something right and sometimes, age and experience bring more patience in parenting.
I want to emphasize the sometimes part. My kid ate dirt? Whatevs.
Peed in the tub? Wasn’t potty trained at 2? Not really a problem.
Didn’t know all of his colors at 4? Well, I can probably still sleep at night. Mostly because I pass out from sheer exhaustion. (Let’s be real.)
My confidence at this point in my life is mostly due to maturity and life experience. I don’t much have time (or energy) to care what other people think. I’m not easily intimidated by doctors or teachers and don’t accept the canned “this is the way things are Mrs. Robbins” line. I’m happy to be that mom who unashamedly advocates for her child’s interest. I’m not afraid of ruffling feathers, being a pain in the butt or embarrassing myself.
I wouldn’t have been that way in my twenties.
As an older mom, I try my hardest to appreciate the small moments
I find humor in things that would have bugged me in my 20s: messy rooms, dirty faces, underpants on the floor, underpants on the top of the china cabinet (someone for the love of God tell me how that even happens)
My parenting experience being different from what the parenting self-help books say it should be.
Leaving the house not dressed like an ad for Gap.
I’m able to take time to appreciate just how rich my life really is. At this age and place in my life, my two young boys are a gift. They manage to keep me young while giving me gray hair. I’m thankful for each moment I have — and also thankful for hair color. And coffee.
I like to say having younger kids keeps me young.
I also like to say having younger kids is going to drive me into an early grave but it really depends on when you ask me because the words “I’m too old for this shit” pass my lips at least three times a day. I’ve learned to enjoy seeing the changing world through the eyes of my two first graders. They’ve helped me to be less rigid and more accepting. I know it’s cliché but they really do teach me more than I could ever teach them.
Most of the moms who are “my age” are past the stage of parenting where I’m at. Many are looking forward to becoming grandparents.
As such, I’ve learned to enjoy and appreciate my friendships with millennial moms. I’ve learned that “totes adorbs” doesn’t refer to a cute bag. I’m hip on the latest SnapChat filters. I’m even semi-forgiving when someone asks me the dreaded “are you their grandmother?” and I have learned to overlook the fact that some of my young contemporaries don’t understand the importance of things like Duran-Duran and the movie, The Breakfast Club.
I’m parenting young kids at 50. I’m an older mom and I know who I am and I know what’s important.
I’m able to relish the moment I’m living in and make the most of it. I also know what’s less important, such as stewing over what people say or trying to fake perfect. The most important lesson I’ve learned as being that older mom…as a mom…is to allow myself to seize the moment and allow life to be just a little bit unpredictable and messy.
If someone would have asked me to draw a picture of midlife when I was a younger woman, that picture wouldn’t have included hitting the parenting reset button at 44.
Learning how to let go and enjoy the surprises life has thrown my way is inexplicably sweet. Tiring. Sticky. Loud.