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Societies Issue With “Older” Mothers

I am turning 39 in two weeks time. In a year, I will be 40 and I’ll have a 2 year old and the question I’ve been pondering for sometime now, is what is societies (and other mom’s) big hang up with older mothers?

I’ve heard so many comments about older mothers and sometimes they just plain and simple irritate me. I’ve been told (yes, directly to my face) by an acquaintance, when she was pregnant with her 1st child, she now has 2 children, that her and her husband had decided to start trying for a family straight after getting married because, well, and I quote: “they did not want to land up like you, older, with problems and then being an older mother!” WTF?? Seriously, that was said to my face. My initial reaction was to slap her! But then I remembered, she was just young and clearly stupid! *snigger*

Since Ava’s birth, people, actually other mothers, have seemed surprised by my age. What??? You turn 40 next year? NO! With such a small child?

A colleague (who reads my blog and will probably read this post 🙂 *waves hello*) was also telling me about an altercation she’d had with another mother at her babies day care, at the time, she had innocently commented to me: “You know, she’s that type of mother… she’s 40 and has a 2 year old!” erm… *raises hand* I’ll be 40 with a 2 year old.

This morning while listening to the radio, I overheard a whole discussion about Kim Kardashian’s engagement and the speculation that she may be pregnant. They were talking about her not wanting to be an “older” mother.  But it was said with the same tone of disdain that is almost always used when the worlds older and mother appear together.

I’m really interested to know what societies big issue is with older mothers?

I see it as a benefit to be an older mother. I look back on myself as a 20 something or even as a 30 year old and I can quite honestly say, a lot happens in terms of maturity and confidence around the mid 30’s that should be seen as beneficial towards motherhood and not a negative thing.

If 40 is the new 30 and God knows, I certainly don’t feel almost 40, I don’t even feel 30,  then there really should be no issue.

Aside from feeling as though I was far more emotionally ready to deal with the challenges of a child, as an older mother, both Walter and I are also far more established and in a far better position to raise a child than what we were 10 years ago – of course, some people may turn this into a negative thing but lets be honest, while money doesn’t buy happiness, it does buy things like good education.

So my question is… why the negativity towards older mothers?

Footnote – these are just my thoughts and are by no means meant to negatively reflect on young mothers.

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31 Comments

  • Reply St. Elsewhere

    It is not a taught negativity, I think. The picture of older moms tends to violently collide with images of our own moms and us in a particular time frame. Maybe that’s why people have an axe to grind. I am no way supporting this behaviour, I am just trying to ascribe some reason to it. Also, society tends to presuppose that a woman who has children late must have put kids on the lowest priority vis-a-vis other things, and that twists their opinion even more.

    All vile suppositions.

    June 2, 2011 at 11:13 am
  • Reply St. Elsewhere

    And your acquaintance sounds like some people, I know. Can’t love them to bits, these people.

    June 2, 2011 at 11:14 am
  • Reply hanneke001

    Man i will also be an older mother ! Society just makes me mad as hell ! You are an amazing mother and age has nothing to do with it. I agree that i am also in a lot better place to have a child than 7 years or so ago !!

    June 2, 2011 at 11:29 am
  • Reply Tanya

    I’m on the other side I was a younger mother and I’m forever getting total shock when people find out I have kids

    You’re too young to have children. What you have kids??? Then how old are your kids? 10 and 8. No you lie? One woman even had the audacity to ask how old I was when I had them and asked if I was 16. One nurse when M was a newborn she told me how irresponsible for me to have a baby so young. I was 23 not 15 and I was married.

    So you never win you’re too young, too old, too fat, or too thin. People need to mind their own business.

    June 2, 2011 at 11:56 am
  • Reply Nisey

    i believe there are pros and cons to both arguments.

    if you have kids when you’re younger you get to enjoy your middle age when you’re earning as much as you’re going to earn and you’ve paid school fees and you’re done with uni etc and you get to travel and enjoy life.

    if you party when you’re younger and have kids when you’re older then you don’t have that same yearning becuase you’ve been there and done that and you can be content.

    i on the other hand did it somewhere in the middle so where does that leave me?

    anyhoo – its one of those issues where everyone has an opinion and none are wrong and none are right.

    its just trying to get society to get over the whole ‘judgement’ thing that everyone loves to do so much instead of just wishing others good luck!

    June 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    But my question is this… what is wrong with being the mother of a 2 year old at 40? I don’t get it? I don’t know why so many people think its undesirable or distasteful?

    June 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm
  • Reply darylfaure

    I’m too old to have an opinion, or if I did, I think I may have forgotten what it was. Try 41 and 50 years old with a two year old. Ok sometimes I think we are insane as well, but seriously, I am loving being a mom at this stage of my life, and that we are now secure enough financially for me to be a stay at home mom, which we couldn’t have managed in my 20’s or early 30’s.

    June 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm
  • Reply lauren

    Hey Shaz
    I personally struggle with “older” moms. I think it must be tougher. When you’re younger you have more energy and can cope with late nights/early mornings, lack of sleep and all the running around.
    I’ve also found “older” moms far more judgemental and uppity. (Not saying you are, just commenting)
    Also (excuse my frankness) I worry about the kids being left without their parents at a younger age. (Yes it can happen to anyone at any stage)

    But I also think that as Tanya said. Society is an issue.
    I’ve encountered my fair share of crapola. I’m 27 with 3 kids and now pregnant with a 4th. I know what’s coming my way again.

    I also think that people have nothing better to do that sit and gossip and judge other people.
    Honestly, who gives you a fig? As long as you love your kids and are doing the best job you can with them and they’re happy and know they’re loved… Who cares if you’re 18 or 65? 🙂

    June 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Its all a matter what perspective. Personally, I look at younger mom’s and think it must be tougher for them. Remember, when I say “older” mom’s, I’m not referring to women in the 60’s and 70’s, I’m referring to women in their 30’s and 40’s and I coped just fine with all the late nights and early mornings and night time wakings with Ava, as do other older mom’s, to be sure. And as a society that is generally living longer more productive lives, I don’t see the issue of dying and leaving young children as really valid.
      I just don’t get the disdain levelled at older mom’s?

      June 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm
  • Reply waiting4amiracle

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with older moms. And I agree with you about the maturity issue and the financial issue. We started ttc when I was 25 and I was devastated when it hadn’t happened by the time I was 30. So maybe in a way I always wished to be a younger mom. However looking back I think we were probably too young. So for me the ideal age would have been my late 20’s very early thirties.

    I actually think society is confused…. because there are also so many celebs that have put off having kids until they are older.

    I guess it depends on the views that you have been brought up with.

    June 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply lauren

    I hear you shaz. I think of “older” moms as anyone over 35 😉
    But then again, being younger, I’ve had heaps of disdain too.
    (Hope I didn’t offend you)

    June 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I am in the category you’re referring to so, yes, I was a little offended by some of what you said, but we’re all good. I mean, I don’t think of myself as a crotchety old lady who needs to go to bed at 8pm for a 12 hour uninterrupted sleep in order to cope the next day but its all a matter of perspective, perhaps you’ll see it differently when you’re 39? And that’s really not intended to sound condescending its just a simple mathematical reality. I have been 27 and 39, I know both. KWIM?

      June 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Nisey

    LOL these comments are too funny. Seriously I know women in their late 40s that have more energy and time and patience than the average 20 year old!

    Its the same as dating an older/younger man at the end of the day age is just a number and some people (usually the ones that had kids in their teens) are old and crotchety at your age but as for the rest of us we’ll be climbing kilimanjaro in our sixties with our grandchildren…

    June 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply lauren

    Kewl. You asked re the disdain, so I answered honestly. Glad we’re all good 🙂
    Not all “older” moms are like that. Those are just my views considering those that I know and have encountered IRL. You don’t seem like that though.
    But yeah, when I’m 39 ill hopefully still feel like a spring chicken. 😀 by then my oldest will be turning 17 ?!? Aaahhhhh the thought gives me grey hairs…

    June 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply sue stuart

    TBH I haven’t encountered it too much, though probably mostly because I’m no longer in the corporate environment, and most people know why I’m an older mother. I’ve probably noticed more that people are surprised when younger (early 20’s) have children, as it seems more the norm for people to put off having children.

    June 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm
  • Reply reluctantmom

    I have not come across this phenomena – or I have been obtuse.

    I turned 39 last month, so a similiar age to you. My youngest is 2 this month.

    I had my first at 29 and I think back now to how young, niave and stupid I was – it was frightening.

    I had Georgia when I was 33 and I had Isabelle at 37 – without a doubt I was better equipped emotionally and spiritually to deal with a baby at 37 than I was at 29.

    However I can’t totally discount I was at child # 3, so that did make it easier on some levels.

    But my reality is I will be 60 and be dealing with kids in university – that should kill me!!!

    June 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm
  • Reply Julia

    I have not yet come across this phenomenon either and I’ll be honest, people who say things like that are stupid and ignorant. Many women have their children much later in life due to factors beyond their control (like infertility or settling down later etc.) I had my Tween at 22 (I was married) and people were always passing comments and even judgements about me being such a “young” mommy. I was always self-conscious at school meetings as I would usually be the youngest Mom present. I had my Toddler at 29 and my experiences of being a Mom at 29 vs 22 were worlds apart. I was far more mature and much better established (financially and emotionally) at 29. That said, child 1 has ADHD and was WAY busy so I often wonder what I would have been like as an older Mom to him. Personally, I feel that there are pros and cons to both arguments and people really should do either what works for them or mind their own business!

    June 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm
  • Reply Pandora

    Ok I am 46 with a 2 year old! I think I win?? Anyway, I sometimes see some of the young moms at creche and think that could be my daughter and my grandchild! It was not entirely by choice that I became a mom at this age, but I was so not ready up to my mid 30s. I would not have coped as well then. I also have a lot of friends close to my age with toddlers, so it is definately more common. I cope fine with the nights etc, no problems there. Sometimes the back and knees creak a bit, but so what! In other ways it is easier now, I don’t miss going out (except to eat without having to keep her in control), we are financially stable, my career is on track etc. I also don’t get the disdain, and anyway its no-ones business but your own. I do worry that I won’t be around for as long as I would like for my daughter, but then again, a child can loose its parents at any age. No guarantees. But then, if you really look at society, there is something negative about nearly everything, young moms, older moms, 1 child, 2 children, 4 children etc. Someone will have something to say because it is not how their lives are. ‘Different’ is apparently not good!

    June 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm
  • Reply To Love Bella

    I don’t get it either, Sharon. Alot of my friends started having their children in their early to mid 30’s, so all I know are those ‘older’ moms.
    For us, it has worked out really well, as we are pretty much established in so many ways – financially, emotionally. And certainly alot more in our relationship too.
    And what about older daddy’s then? Trav will be 50 when Isabella is 8. And another friend will be 50 when his son (2nd child) is 7.
    These days, age REALLY is just a number and we are much younger now than our parents were at our age – if you get my drift.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:10 am
  • Reply Bratty

    Well, I am proudly an older Mom…and I would not change it. 95% of my friends are younger moms, having had all their kids before the age of 25. Firstly, 95% of them are divorced and theirs kids have had to adapt to new stepfathers and boyfriends. Secondly, youngers moms do not know who they are…so sometimes try and find their identity leaving the kids confused.I have had my fair share of comforting younger Moms when they get divorced, go out and get party drunk and sleep with the first man that gives them attention. I am not saying that all younger moms are like that..just basing it on my friends. . I have earned the right to be an older mom. I have weathered the storm and found someone I love, who loves me…I have settled in my career and no longer chase that “Million dollar prize”. Therefore as an older Mom, I might not have the energy a 25 year old but what I can offer is stabililty, wisdom and patience. I will kick any younger Mothers ass if they even dare suggest that my age makes me less of a Mom. (That would prove to me why it is beneficial to be an older Mom..with stupid comments like that). I have endured enough to be the right to be a Mom so unless those “younger” Moms have gone through the same experience, I suggest they close their mouths and learn a little from me. As an older Mom I have also learnt to let things go and I have realised that I cannot change the world…but I can make a better life for me and my family
    PS…no offense to younger Moms (but only if you respect me as an older Mom)

    June 3, 2011 at 7:16 am
  • Reply Yvonne

    People just need to mind their own business! There will always be those that have unwanted opinions on the way we do things and the best thing is to just push your ignore button 😉

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a baby in your 40’s, just as there is nothing wrong with having a baby in your early 20’s. We are all ready at different times and circumstances often don’t allow for the luxury of choice.

    I was a mom at 24 and TBH I was perfectly ready for it and so far I have found it wonderful (they’re 6 & 4yrs now). But that’s just me…!

    June 3, 2011 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Trish

    I know what you mean Sharon and I have no idea why this bothers some people. I know lots of fab older and younger moms and really age is hugely less important than personality, family values and morals etc. I agree that we should just laugh at the ignorance of someone rude enough to comment negatively on our age.
    PS going to an extended family funeral today of a 95 yr old woman who was so cool and only had a daughter at 45 so imagine the crap she had to put up with back then. Her 50 yr old daughter and adult grandchildren who loved her dearly just prove the age preoccupation thing is stupid.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:53 am
  • Reply jenny

    I would have answered sooner but i was too busy getting my zimmerframe serviced. But I just have one thing to ask – am I the only one who looks at a person and doesn’t wonder at all how old they are. I don’t get the age obsession at all. The only thing I will say is that (at 39 with a 4 year old and 8 month old) is that I do wonder if I will see my grandchildren one day or if I will be up to babysitting them. Unlikely if my kids wait as long as I did to have kids…

    June 3, 2011 at 9:37 am
  • Reply Mash

    Thanks for posting on this, it is something that really has been on my mind recently. I have had thoughts like – why even bother trying anymore, I’m so far into my late thirties now.

    I remember when I was 26, my friend saying to me – you need to get on with having children, don’t wait until your thirties. At that stage I was going through a particularly interesting stage of my life where dating arseholes seemed to be the theme of the day for me. I found it such a hurtful comment, she already had two children, she had no idea how much I wanted to meet someone decent and settle down. In hindsight I realise that she felt like she was missing out on the freedom that I had.

    I spoke about this to a friend of mine recently and she said that at her kid’s playschool, almost all the mom’s are “older”, it’s just the way things are nowadays.

    Having said all of that, my 85 year old yoga teacher is younger in spirit and body than a lot of 25 year old women I know! And life doesn’t always pan out the way you plan it to!

    June 3, 2011 at 9:45 am
  • Reply Sharon

    I was telling Walter about this discussion this am, he had a rather interesting take on it. He asked if its really because I’m that old? Or is it a perception thing? And I remembered when I was in my 20’s and contemplating turning 40, it did seem like I’d be really ancient. Obviously, with experience I’ve realizes that is not the case, now that I’m approaching 40, I realize its not old at all, that I feel no different than what I did when I was 30 and 20. The only difference is that I’m a lot smarter now than I was back then and it takes longer to recover form a hang over, that and I have a few more lines and grey hairs but otherwise, exactly the same!

    June 3, 2011 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Gwen

    What really pisses me off is when people say that kids will be “embarrassed” if their mother is older. As if being old is something inherently shameful.

    Although I would have been far better off having kids in my twenties purely from a fertility point of view, if I’d been able to choose my time I would have chosen my early thirties.

    I was raised by parents who had me when they were 22 and 24 respectively, and with the greatest love and respect in the world there were life lessons that they had not yet learned which I think would have made them better parents.

    Obviously we worry about how things will pan out when we are in our fifties and sixties. More of an incentive to stay fit and healthy, I suppose. But I suspect that when we’re there, sixty won’t seem as old as it seems to us now.

    A family friend recently became a first-time mother a month after her 50th birthday. She’s a healthy, lovely, successful and super-dynamic woman with a fabulous husband and I have no doubt that they will create a warm and loving family for their baby.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:32 am
  • Reply tzipieastwest

    Sharon, I got similar comments quite often.
    Even if I did want to be a mum at young age, I do not regret that I will hopefully be a mum at 41. I feel better not, than at a younger age.
    Young or old, both has pros and cons. The thing is : We humans do not have control over everything and we all just live/survive life challenges the best we can. ….
    To come back to your question: Why they think it is bad to be “an old mum” is because the older the parents, the bigger the chance that the child will loose his/her parents at a young age.
    To be honest, I am sometimes a bit afraid of this too. Especially because we are looking into adopting an orphan, and the last thing I would want for our child is to be orphaned twice !! On the other hand, life expectancy is just getting better and better. So, to conclude, science and life change relatively fast, at least, faster than mentalities !!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:24 am
  • Reply Fiona

    I had a child in my early twenties and I battled. I battled with the no sleep, no socializing, no life….I really really battled. Hence I only entertained the thought of a second when I was in my thirties and I must admit I found it a lot easier. I was more mature, more settled and I had more patience. I think the two do have their pro’s and con’s but I would personally choose to be an older mom than a young mom battling like I did.

    For me the issue with older moms (ie over 40) has always been the risks involved especially because your egg quality is not the same as it was 20 years ago.

    Other than that I don’t associate any negative connotations to older woman and kids. I often regret not starting a family later on in life when we were more settled financially and emotionally.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply Zah (aka Talitha)

    All i know is that life can land you up on the ‘older moms’ side whether you like it or not.
    I have learned that the process of having children has nothing to do with sex, your plans, your money or your ‘ability’ to make things happen whenever you want them thus age is no defining factor of motherhood.
    What people dont know is that this is one part of one’s life whose outcome you can never predict hence i say let the ignorants be.
    No matter how the child comes into one’s life, A child is a gift from God whether you believe in God or not and thats just supernatural powers in action right there.

    Well unless you’ve never suffered IF or know anyone who has or come to understand it, then you wont know what im talking about and sadly those are the people with lots of opinion.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Scared & Imperfect Mother

    Sharon you will never win, people will never be happy for you unless they are really happy with themselves. Im a young mother, I had my first child at 19, yes she was an accident and i had to grow up quickly and be a responsible parent for her. Money does not buy happiness, but my child has everything she needs and she is happy. age is just a number, but i tend to agree with you, the older you get the more time and energy you spend on you children and not on all the distractions that goes with being young.

    If i can do it all over again, obviously with the guarantee that i could have my kids as they are. I would have like to only have my first child now.

    just know that Ava is happy and you are a great parent and when (notice how i dont say if, because we all know it wont be long now) the new baby arrives you will be wiser.

    June 9, 2011 at 7:43 am
  • Reply Terri

    Im about to do donor IVF at the age of 40 ! I dont give a rats arse what the judgemental say ! I have lived and experienced life ! I have an awesome husband, we are financially stable….. and how does OLD feel ??? Im healthy, have a sense of humour and have struggled to fall pregnant ! I may be the topic of gossip or judging….. but then i know the bitches will move on to there next poor unsuspecting victim !!!! UGH !!

    June 17, 2011 at 9:26 am
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