Meet Later Mom: Naomi Gryn
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: In a relationship (but not married)
CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Sadie, aged 16 months
I’m a writer and documentary filmmaker. Occasionally I delve into radio as well. Visit www.naomigryn.com.
What was your road to parenthood like? I’d always assumed that I would have children, but a wild streak sent me searching first for other adventures. Aged 33, I was thrown off course by a car accident and spent the rest of my 30s recovering from post traumatic stress disorder. I met Pete when I was 42 and he was 34. My 40s were all about trying to get pregnant, and recovering from the disappointment of two miscarriages and four failed IVF attempts. On our fifth and final roll of the dice, I had two last frozen embryos implanted, with little hope that it would work and bingo, we got Sadie!
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child in your 50s? + I’ll never have to worry whether having a child has stopped me from having a more glorious career. – Even though I had an easy pregnancy, various maternity services seemed stressed out about it because of my age.
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? What do you love the most about it?
Nobody tells you how much fun it is.
Also, I had no idea that other people try to interfere so much, especially about routines. Strangers approach me in the street to complain about my baby’s clothing. People seem particularly challenged about her not wearing a hat. Unfortunately, she hates wearing hats and gloves, and immediately pulls them off.
My home has been overrun by cheap and brightly colored plastic toys, my iPhone has been confiscated by Sadie, and I haven’t had more than four consecutive hours’ sleep for 15 months, and yet I feel great.
What do I love the most? The intensity of my love for Sadie. Watching her personality erupt (she’s a living sunbeam with a predilection for melodrama). Waking up in the morning – every morning – and discovering that she’s still here, it wasn’t just a dream.
What influence, if any, has your mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? My father, who died in 1996, had been a child survivor of the Holocaust and we, his children, were very precious to him. I understand now how healing children can be. He had an extraordinary capacity to empathize. I always felt understood by him: he could make me laugh at my misfortunes and turn all experiences into opportunity for growth. I hope I can do this for Sadie. My father learned this lesson from his own father: You can live for up to three weeks without food, three days without water, but you can’t live for three minutes without hope.
My mother’s parenting skills are more practical, reminding me to use Arnica cream on bumps and bruises, and to give Rescue Remedy if Sadie’s had a shock. Her recipe for chicken soup cures all known ailments.
Where do you turn for parenting support? How important is to connect with mom peers? I have a small but vibrant circle of fellow mums and dads – mostly writers and filmmakers, mostly over 40 – with whom I pool tips about which pushchair to buy, which sling, where to get good value nappies that don’t have garish cartoons printed on them, which cinemas host Screamer Screeners. Now our get-togethers are morphing into play dates for our children.
Friends and siblings with older children have been a fantastic source of advice and hand-me-downs, but the women who gave me the most confidence were two doulas, Lea and Maddie, who supported me and Pete in those first scary few weeks. They taught me how to breastfeed, change a nappy, hold my baby. Maddie’s most priceless advice was to follow my instincts.
Whenever I’ve had concerns, I’ve looked online for advice and find other parents’ experiences invaluable. How much should my baby weigh? Symptoms of childhood diseases? Pros and cons of co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, etc.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if age 35 or older? Don’t think twice: it’s the most magical gift in the world. You’ll never waste another minute worrying about purpose or the meaning of life.