Today is my birthday. I don’t really want to acknowledge that fact, though, as I get older. (I won’t dignify my age by revealing it; although if you read last year’s blog post you can probably figure it out.)
I’m still plagued by this feeling of trying to catch up to other women my age, something I will never actually be able to do. I still am dealing with the loss of those six years trying to have a baby. I’m six years behind. How old will I be when LM graduates high school? College? Will I be too old to enjoy my retirement? Will I be too fragile to travel?
Some would argue that I got in my traveling before I had kids. But that was different. Those were take-my-mind-off-all-the-trauma-in-my-life kind of trips. They weren’t I’ve-completed-my-goals-in-life-and-raised-my-children-so-now-I’m-going-to-enjoy-it kind of trips. Not fair. I want my Viking River Cruise, damn it!
I feel like my age is a secret. I won’t tell the other moms in my mom group how old I am (although if they’re reading this they might find out). They are young and in the prime of life and many haven’t even hit the point of “advanced maternal age.” But I have. I’m done.
I know I shouldn’t base my identity on my ability to have a child — plus, thanks to infertility that was actually gone long ago. But it’s hard for most women, I think, to have this cut-off point that defines them as “old.” Men don’t have that. Not fair again.
I should just let it go. So why am I hanging on to these negative feelings? They are so inextricably wound up with my feelings about what I went through to have kids. If I hadn’t had to waste all that time, I wouldn’t be behind. I wouldn’t have to mourn my reproductive capabilities because I would have already fulfilled my womanly goals. It would be an acceptance of growing older instead of a regret.
I hear you, feminists. Don’t define yourself by your reproductivity! you say. And you’re right. This is an emotional response I’m having, so please let me have it. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to! Wahhh!
Luckily, thanks to good genes I don’t look my age. So I’m able to sidle my way in with the young moms, moms who are having babies in their early thirties like I was meant to do. Do they know I’m faking it? Would they care if they knew? Would they see me as any different, as some old lady who they couldn’t identify with?
I feel like I’m living a lie. (I know I’m being dramatic.)
Some people say that I should be proud of my age so they can marvel at how young I look. Yeah, no thanks. I’d rather have people actually believe that I’m young.
I am going to celebrate my birthday. Tonight my mom group is having a private wine tasting (not for me — it’s just a happy coincidence). Tomorrow is dinner out with friends. Saturday is a spa day in the city. And next month Foggy Daddy and I are taking a real, honest-to-goodness weekend getaway. Yay!
But still, there’s a cloud of old age starting to hang over me that I can’t seem to get rid of. I’m trying, I really am, to let the sun shine through it. I know my life is good. I know if it ended right now I would have accomplished something, including my wonderful son. As he ran into our room this morning and I saw his smiling face pop up as he climbed on the bed, I thought how he was the best present anyone could ask for.
Where are my older moms at? Do you hide your age? Do you feel “behind”?
I can’t believe you’ve been in our lives for two years. The time has just flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday I was holding your tiny body against my chest. You were so small and calm – not like now! I can’t get you to stay still (unless I give you the iPad, which technically you weren’t supposed to look at until you officially turned two, but anyway…). You are so full of energy and life.
You have your own personality now. You certainly know what you want! Headstrong and willful – that’s you! I admit this leaves me very unsure of how to parent you. I try to enforce rules, but your tantrums are getting, well, a little hard to handle. Welcome to the terrible twos, right? Physically, you’re really strong, so it’s hard to wrangle you. Just getting you in your carseat this morning was near impossible. And while I love that you are a strong person, it makes it a bit difficult for me! I don’t want to break your spirit, but I want you to listen to what I say.
Confession: Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing.
You go to extremes – if you’re super angry one minute, you can be super happy the next. Everyone comments on your smile, and it is very infectious! When you’re having fun, you’re really having fun. You love to sing “Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and seem to have an affinity for music, which makes me so glad! Hopefully we can share that as you grow. You also love your hockey sticks and golf clubs, which will make Daddy happy too. Climbing is your new favorite activity. You have no fear. Nothing can keep you contained anymore, my little Houdini! But that makes me realize that you have your own will, one which is no longer in my power to control (if it ever was). You need to find your own path in life, and it seems that starts now!
You don’t talk a whole lot yet (something which makes me a little nervous), but when I hear you call “mama” it melts my heart. OK, sometimes I’m thinking, “Won’t you just leave me alone for a minute?” But then I realize that this overwhelming need for me won’t be there forever. I may feel suffocated by it sometimes, but as you grow I know I will long for it, the same way I now long for your little newborn snuggles.
This parenting thing is crazy. One minute I’m loving it, the next I feel like I just need a break. It’s all-consuming, both in a good and bad way. It’s such an extraordinary experience for something so ordinary and common. I know I’m not as good a mom to you as I want to be. But I’m learning. You make me want to be a better person, so I can be a better example for you. I hope you know how much you were wanted, how long we waited for you. How much we love you.
Happy second birthday my sweet boy.
Today is my birthday. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but it doesn’t really mean that much to me anymore. My birth and the circumstances of my life, which we are supposed to be celebrating today, don’t seem to matter a whole lot now that I’m a mom. All of that – the day I was born, the celebration of my life – pale in comparison to the day my son was born. Every day I celebrate his life. Mine takes a backseat. And I’m OK with that.
But what does bug me is the sense that I’ve passed the prime of my life. I know I have my son’s whole life to look forward to, but because I’m an older mom I feel like I’m behind, and I can never catch up because that’s the way time works – it doesn’t stop and wait for you.
I spent six years trying to have my son, so I’m six years older than most of the moms I know. I used to feel like I had a jump start on life because I was the youngest kid in my class – I started college at 17 and graduated at 21. So I had a good six months or almost a year on most of my friends. I got married at 30 – not young, but not old either – so I was still “on track” for the timeline in my head. But then my thirties went by in whirl of infertility treatments, and I didn’t have a baby until 38. And here I am at 39.
I often do the math: How old will I be when LM is out of the house? How old will I be when he is the age I am now? I worry that the poor kid will have ailing parents before he is even middle-aged. Which is crazy when I realize that my own mother, at 66, still has her father around. I could be gone by the time LM is 40.
Speaking of my mother, this is the conversation I had with her the other day on the topic of my turning 39:
“Thirty-nine is old,” I said.
“Not to me,” she said.
“In one year I’ll be 40. Forty is middle-aged.”
“I think nowadays 50 is more middle-aged.”
“Only if you live to be 100.”
“Your grandfather is 93.”
OK, fair point – but my grandfather is an anomaly. He lives independently in Florida, walks five miles on the beach every day, and takes no medication. He’s amazing. But it’s unrealistic to expect to live that long.
But I think my mom does, in fact, expect to live that long. She is a very young 66. She’s thinner than I am, very stylish, and looks probably at least 15 years younger than she is. Even so, I’m still worried about getting older not just for myself but for my parents, too. I want them to have time with their grandchildren. Selfishly, I want to enjoy life without having to deal with something sad like illness or death – I had six years of sadness with infertility and loss, and that was quite enough, at least for the time being.
My sweet spot, age-wise, was probably around 28. I was grown-up but my parents were still young, my career was going places, and I had a fiance, a cool apartment in Hoboken, and lots of friends. Life was good.
I should think of my life now that way as well. I have a beautiful son, lots of new mom friends, and a great family. But my pessimism sneaks in, and I feel like somehow I’m living on borrowed time, waiting for the next major change in life (and not for the better) to occur. I think my past has made me fearful of the future.
Instead, I really should just be living for the present. That’s all any of us really have. No one knows what is going to happen, and you can’t live your life on a preconceived timeline. So, I’m going to try to shake it off and count my blessings as they exist in this present moment.