Mumbling through the mayhem of motherhood after 40 by Melissa Swedoski
My baby girl turned 1 on Sunday. Um, I didn’t give her permission to do that. Although she rarely asks my opinion on anything. She pretty much blinks at me when I tell her what to do. But she’s the best cuddlebug ever, so I find it really hard to stand my ground. Which means I crumple to the floor and she plops in my lap with a book, which she likes to read about a dozen times.
I know what you’re thinking: yeah, right. Okay, so the “book” is one of those tiny little soft books that only count to 6. Why 6? They couldn’t afford 4 more pages? But I digress.
This is my family. There’s the husband, 30 years old and looks like he could’ve been a male model if he hadn’t been so busy playing World of Warcraft. There’s Annie, the 2 year old, who, I seriously believe in my heart, could survive just fine in our home, should we suddenly be eaten by a pack of wild dogs. She knows how to do almost everything, and the rest I’m pretty sure she could make up along the way. Then there’s Leelou, the 1 year old, who has an amazing sense of humor, as long as you don’t piss her off. She already wrestles her sister when she wants something, and she’s about 8 pounds lighter and 6 inches shorter.
Then there’s me. The 43-year-old who hasn’t quite figured out what the sam hill she’s doing. I suppose I run things around here, but that would be seriously stretching the truth. How can you run things when you’re not sure how they’re supposed to run? You can see my conundrum here. For a person who never dreamed of marriage, kids and a white picket fence (yes, we have one around the pool – ack! we have a pool), this has been a confounding few years. But mostly pretty funny. If you think about it. A long time.
I spent the years after earning an English degree (liberal arts – good investment. heh) working at newspapers, then realized I was never going to make enough money to move up from cheap frozen dinners to the classy ones. So I got a masters in Public Administration and went into nonprofit management. Which is just as crazy as covering the police beat. You have to trust me on this. Back to newspapering I went, where I met my husband and lured him into my clutches at the mere age of 21. Surprised? Not half as surprised as I was.
After five months of marriage, we bought a weekly newspaper and uprooted our lives 300 miles south and began a six year odyssey into the insanity of running a newspaper in a very small town. When I hit 38, I asked if maybe we could have babies. And thus began a two year odyssey into infertility, resulting in Annie via IVF and Leelou via spontaneous conception. Surprised? Not half as surprised as we were. We sold the business, moved 400+ miles north and embarked on a life that continues to mystify me. My investigative skills did not prepare me for this. Other than my hard-learned reporter lesson of always having a spare pair of shoes in the car. And pants, if you have room.
Glad to be joining Motherhood Later, because I think having kids after 40 has made me a better person. And funnier. At least that’s what I tell myself.