I am a middle age mamma. Had I started having kids at the age my childhood peers started their families (17—20 years old), I’d be just shy of being a young (good-looking) granny. Instead I am an almost 40-something with a four year old. By the time I had my son, I wasn’t even sure I could have him. My husband and I tried for a couple of years and right when I was about to give up, at thirty-five years of age, I got pregnant.
Now we are, as the expression goes, “one and done!”
It has taken me a few years to mentally adjust to parenthood. Basically, right about the time I had my son, my husband and I were starting a mid-life crisis and getting the seven-year itch (these are both real things–not just clichés). Although we planned for a child, we did not anticipate how it would change us as individuals and change our marriage. It amplified everything. We are both scrappy and loyal, and after some rough patches of butting heads, we finally have our groove again (wink, wink).
Our perspectives and priorities have changed.
All across the moms’ blog network there are posts about body image, finding out who your friends are, letting go of toxic relationships, making time for what is important, budgeting, recipes, exercise and general advice. Some folks may think these topics are trite musings of bored, suburban housewives, and they would be both right and wrong. The collective of mom bloggers are those folks and so much more: We have executive directors, social-workers, independent business owners, world-travelers, missionaries, marketing specialist, stay-at-home bad-asses, journalists, and nutritionists. We are a tribe of all kinds of faces, personalities, and beliefs.
When I was in my 20s I heard a few wise women say in one conversation:
“Now that I am 40, I have decided that I am a sex-pot.” And the other, “Well, I am 60 and I just don’t give a damn what people think of me.”
At almost 40, I am embracing those words.
I have learned from this eclectic group of mom bloggers and the sensuous ladies in my day-to-day community that:
What you see is not always what you get.
Whether we like to admit it, we are all constantly people watching and judging others. Everything looks great on social media…lots of smiles, date-nights, cute kids, and fancy foodie meals. I have gone to that dark place of “So and so is such a cool mom. Look at all the stuff they do. I can’t get anywhere on time or be that well put together.” The reality is that those are slices of their lives. We all struggle. (How many times have you seen the post where there are dirty dishes in the sink and the trashcan car?)
Sometimes when I am around other moms I feel a little inadequate and awkward. I think things like: “She looks so good. Look at her make-up and cute outfit. I wish I could afford that or look like that. She must be this type of person.” Then that mom walks up to me and compliments me or better yet says “I love it when you said _______ (fill in something blunt or tawdry), because that empowered me.” I realize that we are all in a large tribe of women and should stop putting each other down for what we think the other one has; instead, we should lift each other up for the incredible, many, extraordinary, multi-tasking talents we all have. If we stop tearing each other down, then we can tear this glass ceiling down (Can I get a holla?!).
Make time and admit when you don’t want to do something.
Most of the time I feel like I am chasing unicorns over a rainbow. Basically, racing to catch up with my own unrealistic expectations and schedules. I say things to folks like, “Oh we should get together…” and schedule eight activities on a Saturday. This is madness. The reality is that if I don’t schedule something with a friend it is not important to me at that time. I love my friends and they are always with me in my heart and head, urging me to be happy and live this life. They get it too and are doing their thing. I respect that. I am learning to pick and savor experiences—quality over quantity.
Let it go.
If the milk gets spilled on the couch or my kid hands me a booger, I just let it go.
I am learning to look inward with my child’s eye—not my mind’s eye. Being a parent has helped me connect with my curiosities, not a single passion or idea of what I should be. Rather, I am embracing the many layers of who I have become (good and bad) and keeping a learner’s mind.
I want to be clear: I do not think that being a middle age mom has set me apart from other moms or made me a guru on parenting. I am not all blissed out and all knowing. It’s just where I am.
I find that I am lucky to have a kid and to be part of this mom community. I feel supported and at peace right now in my life (again I am lucky). I do not want this post to come across as advice, but rather as encouragement. This is what I have learned so far. I hope to have a long way to go in motherhood. My four-year old is already acting like a teenager and I am scared to death about raising a thoughtful kid who doesn’t get addicted to substances, isn’t racist, respects women, and makes the most of his life. I worry about maintaining a lasting and loving partnership with my husband. We are more mild-love than wild-love, meaning we appreciate each other in the day-to-day and aren’t always making out as soon as we hit the door. I get scared of losing myself. During those times, I hear my inner voice whisper, “Wherever you go, there you are.”