Sorry, But I’m Running Late …..By Robin Sydney Wallace
“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are,”–Anais Nin.
As a writer and a journalist, I know the power of words, language and terminology. I know that through the language with which we choose to discuss a topic, we can define the public’s perception or feelings about that subject. I write news for a cable news network, which means I spend a lot of time listening to politicians and pundits—which means I know how language can be manipulated, and terminology devised, to trigger an emotional response to a message that may or may not have much to do with the actual facts.
Which is also why I was so intrigued with this web sites’ message of “later” motherhood. I had my two children at age 35 and 39, and although I’ve always been told I was an “older” mother, I never could identify with that term or felt it described me at all. The New York Times narrative of the “older” mother—professionally accomplished, financially secure and comfortable, interviewing European nannies, or plotting her exodus from the corporate world to launch an organic silk diaper brand—that wasn’t my story. Nor did I endure the fertility issues that are part of so many “older” moms’ journeys. Nor was I having a “surprise” after raising a couple of teenagers. Those stories weren’t mine. Women know what “older” means in our culture–irrelevant, invisible, and expired past your usefulness, all come to mind. When I was 35 and starting my family, “older,” to me, connoted a maturity, a point of authority and achievement, a position in life, that I didn’t have—and a whole bunch of other things that I didn’t want to be.
“Later,” however, is a different story. “Later” is something I can understand.
You can ask anyone who has ever lived with, worked with, or been related to me. They’ll tell you that my relationship with time has never advanced past the casual acquaintance phase. I enjoy the encounter when we happen to hook up–I get the attraction– but I’ve never been able to make a commitment. I am late for everything, all of the time, and despite the stress, anxiety, humiliation, missed opportunities and damaged relationships that chronic tardiness has caused me, I’ve never been able to overcome it. When I really need to make sure that I am on time, the process feels something like casting a wide net into the air to catch all the far-flung fragments of my brain, and reining those fragments into an uncomfortably tight and cramped space, forcing them to communicate and work together in an entirely awkward and unnatural way. It also means understanding how the numbers on a clock relate to a future number. I can feel the circuits short-circuiting while they try to rewire.
But, it’s not just day to day punctuality that’s been a problem. I was late to start a career, late to move out of my parents’ house, late to get married. Late has been the over-riding theme of my life since the day I graduated from college and was released from the grid of formal schooling. I am 45 years old, and I sometimes calculate that if I condensed the events of my life into a schedule where these events would represent purposeful accomplishment rather than inevitability, I would be about 34 years old.
So, of course I would be “late” to motherhood. How could I not be? A “later” mom. Now that’s me!
I never thought about my age when I was having my children. I had them when it was time, for me, to have them, and unlike so many things in my life that I do regret being late for, I could not have had my kids any earlier than I did. However, I contacted this website when, a few months ago, at age 45, I thought I was going to become a mother again. This time around, I suppose I did feel like an “older” mom, an outlier, and I wanted to connect with other mothers my age. As it turned out, that’s not going to be the case. Ironic that, when I was finally prepared to be an older mother, I would find out that I was just older. This time, I was too late. And, I can tell you, my lifetime of lateness didn’t prepare for that. Also ironic that, the one time in my life when I would be early for something, it would be to prematurely pitch a blog on a pregnancy that wasn’t a definite thing.
So, I won’t be blogging about pregnancy at 45, but I hope you’ll check in on Sundays to read some other things I’d like to share with you. That’s right, Sundays. I promise… I won’t be late.