Things You Should Never Say To An Older Mum

I am an older mum. I had my first child at 43 in 2007 and my second at 45 in 2009. I believe the NHS termed me a geriatric mother, even though I was in better health and fitness than many of the much younger mums to be.

In the back of my mind I was well aware that there would be those who would look on having a child in my forties as being selfish but, in general, most people have been accepting and nothing but kind.

older mum - new born baby in a blue blanket

On the other hand, there are those who can’t quite resist trotting out a few of the gems below:

“Oh, was it, you know, a natural conception?”

People are fascinated by how we late mums conceived.  It is a reasonable enough question I suppose and I do know women older than me who have travelled abroad for IVF by donor egg.

But why people can’t quite grasp that until you have your menopause, you are still technically able to have a child, I don’t know. Does the method of conception affect your ability to be a good parent?  Hardly. And, the answer to the question is, yes it was.

“But aren’t you menopausal“?  

The average age for menopause in the UK is 51.  And average, maths lovers, means that many women will reach menopause AFTER that age.

“But aren’t you very tired?”

Having a child is tiring.  Having two children is even more tiring.  Prior to giving birth, I was not spending my days lying on a chaise longue being fed peeled grapes.  I could even walk unaided. What does my age have to do with it?

“I suppose you find you’re so much more patient

Nope. I still have all the patience of my son in the Lego shop.  I think anyone who has a child (or adopts, fosters or becomes a stepparent, come to that), goes through a rapid learning curve, taking on all sorts of skills and personality traits that they never previously considered.  I’m still as impatient but I am learning strategies to deal with it. Rioja for instance.

“So when you’re reaching retirement, they will only just be going to college?”

Possibly true but given that retirement age will probably reach 70 for all of us sooner or later, I might not quite have a bus pass. Us late mums are hit by a triple whammy – retirement, kids’ university fees and caring for elderly parents.

I think in future the shape of the family will change; extended family will become much more important and child care will be shared through the generations (in a model which already exists in parts of Europe).

I think our friends will play an important role too. Stats say that something like 1 in 4 women born around 1964 (my birth year) are childless. I have many friends who are single, childless and in poor health and I can quite envisage adding them to the family mix!

older mum Linda Hobbis, hubby Mat, Caitlin and Ieuan

But don’t you and your husband worry about dying while your children are still young?”

Of course we do!  One of our main preoccupations is staving off illness and making sure we maintain a decent level of fitness. But life doesn’t come with a guarantee and parents can die at any age. I wish I had met my husband ten years ago. I wish my first pregnancy (a year before Caitlin) hadn’t ended in an early miscarriage. I wish I wasn’t an older mum. I wish. I wish. I wish.

I would still tell younger women to have children in their twenties and thirties whilst their fertility is much higher, but I completely understand why women choose to have babies in their forties.

For me, the chance to experience having children and build a family would always outweigh anything I could possibly achieve in my career (I was a marketing director for a Welsh law firm).

You can call it selfish if you like. But I maintain that having a baby is always a selfish act. As Richard Dawkins explains in his book “The Selfish Gene“, we are programmed to reproduce to ensure our species’ survival.  The drive is more primal than just the urge to paint a nursery and knit booties.

When the time is right we will sit down with Caitlin and Ieuan and tell them the story of their birth and reassure them that we will do everything in our power to stay with them as long as we are needed.  We will tell them that they were wanted, loved and not some random throw of a dice in the last chance fertility saloon.

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had not had children.  I might have had a better wardrobe, more exotic holidays and a flasher kitchen but I think I would have felt dead inside – like my life had been a bit of a waste.

I’m happy to talk about my experience as an older mum but please try to remember that it is the Pacific Salmon that dies after spawning.  I’ve never felt more alive.

 

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linda

Marketing professional turned family lifestyle blogger. I live in Cardiff with hubby Mat, Caitlin (10) and Ieuan (8).

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22 Comments

  1. 24 April, 2015 / 1:02 pm

    I don't think age has anything to do with being a good parent. If you're fit and healthy and happy then it doesn't matter! xx

  2. 24 April, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    I am sorry to hear you had to face all this situations when having a child after 40s. I dont understand why people judge others by how old they are. As you said, I believe, you might be way healthier and maybe more ready than other mums to be.

    Your family looks beautiful, don't worry about what people say!

    xx

    Dominika

  3. 24 April, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    Some people are so narrow minded. Being a good mum has nothing to do with age!

  4. 25 April, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    The question really is: what do you want to do with your one, wild and precious life? If it is not harming anyone, then no explanation is needed. Raising two children to be responsible, wonderful people is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. Enjoy!

    • 27 April, 2015 / 1:19 pm

      Thank you. People are so judgmental, aren't they? x

  5. 27 April, 2015 / 1:16 pm

    I think I might re share this. I get so annoyed with the whole "Older mum" thing. I am almost 39 and the NHS notes I have on my file say "elderly" in the spot about my age in relation to being pregnant or trying to get pregnant. There are many things about being an older parent that are so much better than being a very young parent, I wish people would stop being so rude! Well said! Popped over from #MummyMonday

    • 27 April, 2015 / 1:18 pm

      And you're not even 40! I had to be consultant led and had to go to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff because it had surgeons and anaesthesia. Did consider a gas and air birth but was told no! People even asked my poor mother if I had conceived naturally!

  6. 27 April, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    Some of the thing's people have said are just plain rude. Age has nothing to do with your ability to be a great parent x

  7. 28 April, 2015 / 1:32 pm

    I'm 35 and I think I'm classed as a geriatric mum – it makes me giggle. It crosses my mind that when my youngest is my age I'll be 70 but I don't plan to pop my clogs then. I'm hoping to be fit and healthy. Age is a number. It's how you live your life that matters #MummyMonday

  8. 11 May, 2015 / 12:54 pm

    I'm having a good old rummage around your blog today aren't i?! Seeing this post made me laugh a bit tho…i hadn't realised you wrote this before i wrote my older mum one. Yeah I can see how me moaning about being an older mum might have been a tad annoying?!

    Two things from this post….people are SO RUDE and secondly….We are really lucky to be living in a time when age means less and less in terms of ability and illness. People look, dress and act SO much younger these days and that's such a good thing. It really doesn't matter does it?

  9. 29 August, 2015 / 8:39 am

    People (and by people I mean the Daily Mail) treat older motherhood as though it's some sort of new fad, but people have always had babies in their forties. It's just that in the past those babies were not usually their first child. I say well done and good luck. I wish I'd been ready for a baby at 23 but I wasn't. I wish I'd met someone I wanted children with but I didn't (still haven't). We just do the best with the hand we are dealt.

  10. Rhia
    9 November, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    I’m so pleased to have read this lovely post- very well written.
    Good on you and best wishes
    (from one of the ‘younger but not necessarily fitter’ mums)

  11. 13 January, 2018 / 10:46 am

    Good for you…great post! Age is just a number x

  12. kate
    2 February, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Just want to say..I had my first when I was 31 a long long time ago…and was going to local hospital then suddenly elderly primagravia or something like that so had to go elsewhere. One benefit I found was over time it made me feel younger as mixing with younger mothers who accepted me just as a mother when others my actual age were having their children leave home when mine were still just starting secondary school.

  13. 14 April, 2018 / 3:37 pm

    I throughly enjoyed this piece and the humor you have about the situation my mom had me in her forties and people have so much unneeded judgment. Our family worked out just fine. Good luck to you and your family!

  14. 19 April, 2018 / 10:50 am

    My husband’s mum had him at 44 and in her 70s now is fitter than me, travels internationally 3x a year and is living life to the full! I had my first at 35 and had a lot of probing questions about why we “waited so long” and all of the above still! I’m so glad you have the family you wanted!

    • linda
      Author
      19 April, 2018 / 4:58 pm

      Wow Christy – that’s cheered me up. I really need to get fit though so I can keep up with the kids! I think your MIL could probably run rings around me!

  15. Julie
    1 May, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    I hear ya sister! I had my first (and only) child at 43. You’d think I had two heads by the reaction of my Community midwife and some of the nurses on the maternity ward. My the end of the second trimester I was sick to death of being referred to as ‘an older mum’ Thank heavens for my Consultant, friends work colleagues and family who treated me exactly like any other expectant mother. I too had become pregnant the previous year and sadly that ended in miscarriage. If you only we’d started trying earlier …

    • linda
      Author
      2 May, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Sometimes the timing’s just not right though, is it? I wish I had met Mat earlier because I probably would have had more than two. Glad all was OK for you x

  16. 27 June, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    I really don’t think age matters. I had my daughter when I was almost 35, and would have liked another child but we upped sticks and moved when she was four, having lived apart for almost 18 months while my husband was settling into a new job and we were trying to sell our house. My husband didn’t want any more upheaval after that, and he says he’s too old now (he’s 50 and I’m 43). I still think about having a second child but I know it’s very unlikely now. But I’m very grateful for my little girl – she was a very difficult baby/toddler but is a lovely, kind, sweet girl now.

    • linda
      Author
      27 June, 2018 / 2:53 pm

      It’s always a difficult decision when you’re in later life I think. I was 45 when Ieuan was born and my husband was 42 but I agree there is quite a big difference between that and 50 from your husband’s point of view. Then again, you can be a really young 50 year old. In many ways age is a mental thing.

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