You Sure Waited a Long Time to Get Started by Melissa Swedoski

It’s a tricky business, this later motherhood life. On the one hand, you feel so supremely blessed to have this child(ren) who you can love, hug, snuggle, cuddle, nourish, teach, inspire, support and laugh with, when you perhaps thought you never would.

But then there’s the trick of time. You feel just a little tired. Not because of your children, but because of your age. Forty years is a long time. A whole lot happened from 1970 to 2010, and a whole lot happens to a body over the course of 40 years. Your back hurts a little bit when you get out of bed. Your body’s just a little bit sore getting up off the floor after extended play time. Your eyes burn throughout the day if you don’t get at least six hours of sleep.

Most days, my children make me feel young again, with the romping and frolicking and giggling, lots and lots of giggling. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to be married to a man 13 years younger than me, who helps me remember that there is still plenty of fun to be had. But sometimes on a lazy Sunday, I’d just like to read or watch movies and squeeze in a nap. Instead, there’s playing to be done, outdoor adventures to be had, a swimming pool to be used.

I’ve never felt particularly old as a mother. I like to think I have a fairly youthful outlook on life to begin with. But I can tell you exactly the day that I did feel old.

Last fall, our youngest daughter, then a 6 month old, was battling a recurring case of bronchitis. She was misdiagnosed several times, requiring several trips to the doctor’s office. At one of the visits, our older daughter fell asleep, so she and dad stayed in the car in the parking lot. She is not the daughter to try and wake up if she’s not done napping.

The waiting room is mostly full. This office has bench seating along the walls, with chairs in the middle of the room. I’m sitting on the bench with our daughter, with another woman about five feet down the bench from me. She’s the person who talks loudly in a quiet office, and from the conversation, I can tell this is her grandchild, and she did not expect to be in this office this day. At some point she says to me, “That baby is so cute. Look at those eyes. Are you the grandma?”

Being the studier of human behavior that I am, I see some people flinch, some people look away, and a few people smirk. “No, I’m the mommy.” But she didn’t let it go. “Really? I don’t see how you gals do it. I was done with all that business by the time I was your age.” Try to imagine this in a Texas twang, loud enough for a full waiting room to hear.

I nodded. She turned to no one in particular and said, “I just can’t believe that. I mean, how do they do it? My daughter had a baby at 32, and I thought that was old. Did she say how old she was? Did you say you were 36?” I pretend not to hear this, and I notice that now, people are physically shifting in their seats away from her and/or dropping their eyes to avoid contact. At some point, after continuing to mutter something or other, she said, “I guess I wasn’t supposed to ask her that.” Who says good manners are dead? Thankfully, our name was called and I could move on with my life.

Why did this make me feel old? Not because of what she said. It was pretty obvious that she wasn’t cool with older first time moms, but trust me, I don’t need anybody’s approval. That’s not my bag. It made me feel old, because as I glanced around the room, I WAS the oldest first time mom in the room. I had absolutely no cohorts. No one who could relate to the awkwardness (or the hilarity) of this situation. No one who could begin to know what it was like to be asked, “Wow, you waited a long time to get started, huh?”

Yes, I waited a long time. But standing here now, looking at these faces, it was just the right amount of time.

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  1. 14 Responses to “You Sure Waited a Long Time to Get Started by Melissa Swedoski”

  2. You should wear that with a badge! You probably went through a lot more than us younger mommas to get that baby! Thanks for sharing (I always like a new perspective!)

    By Tasha Jackson on Jun 18, 2013

  3. Thanks for sharing. Made me smile and giggle:)

    By Sherryl on Jun 18, 2013

  4. Oh my!

    My mother is the same age as my husband’s grandmother. They had children in high school and my mother struggled with infertility and had kids later. At first it bothered her. But then she realized how glad she was that she (unwillingly) waited. Just as you said, we make her feel young. On top of that, she was able to provide things such as private school for all 4 of us that she wouldn’t have been able to do is she had us 10 years before.

    That situation reflects on how poorly mannered that lady was. I cringed when I read that she had a Texas twang. Her mother should have raised her with better manners.

    You do your thing, Mama! :) You’re awesome at it!

    By Casi on Jun 18, 2013

  5. Just the right amount of time .. That’s the way I think of it too

    By Liz Reagan on Jun 18, 2013

  6. LOL, I had my first at 48. I’ve never run into one of these boors, living in a metropolitan area where older motherhood is fairly common. But I totally understand that “oldest mom in the room” feeling. And I hope I’m ready when I do run into that person who is almost inevitably in my future.

    By Margaret on Jun 18, 2013

  7. OMG Melissa! This happened to me, too. We were in Georgia (so I blame the rednecks) and a woman asked me the exact same thing! I wrote a blog post about it as well. Freaking people. So rude! It’s like asking somebody if she’s pregnant. Unless the baby is falling out, don’t ask, right! (that nugget was by a commenter and I was so happy to read it). I had Tucker about 6 weeks before I turned 41. I’m always the oldest mom at the playground. And I, too, waited just the right amount of time.
    Cheers to being grandma mommies! We rock.

    By Kristi Campbell on Jun 18, 2013

  8. Some people have no manners….I just can’t believe it! That’s like asking someone you don’t know if they are pregnant! Some things you don’t say out loud.

    By Sarah @ How My World Runs on Jun 18, 2013

  9. I am waiting for the day that happens when I’m out with my step-daughters, and truly surprised it hasn’t happened yet. I know I get an occasional “eyeballing”, but so far no one has given voice to it. I should probably prepare my answer now.

    By Ariana Gruver on Jun 18, 2013

  10. It still boggles me that people have the gall not only to judge others, but to do it publicly! I’m a decade older than you, but thanks to good genes, I’ve never been in that predicament. I do know others who have and it is very disturbing. Just be happy with your life now and ignore these judgmental folk. Just a hint: imagine how tired you will be at MY age! Lol!

    By Cara Potapshyn Meyers on Jun 18, 2013

  11. I had my first one very young, two more at ‘appropriate ages’ and the last one way too old (by others’ standards). I’ve seen and heard it all, and I could care less. Each and every stage was fun, but this one (the old one) is probably my favorite because I’m old enough to know what I’m doing and financially stable enough to enjoy doing it. I get to focus on the important things, like raising the little guy.

    And I do. :)

    By Rosey on Jun 19, 2013

  12. Thank you both! And Rosey – that’s one helluva book idea you got going right there. :)

    By Melissa Swedoski on Jun 19, 2013

  13. Oh my, testify, sistah!! I am nearly a decade older than the other moms in my son’s class. I had him just 6 weeks shy of 40. You know what though? It doesn’t matter. We all relate just fine to each other because our kids are the same age and we’re mostly dealing with the same stuff … though my hot flashes started before theirs! I wear my age with pride … probably because I take care of myself and look younger than the gals younger than me. Like you, I couldn’t have possibly done the kid thing any sooner because I plain wasn’t ready. I’m so glad I waited!

    By Norine of Science of Parenthood on Jun 19, 2013

  14. I love all of you! *mwah!* I figure it’s hard enough to be a new mom, facing off on everyone’s opinions over what you are doing, and I’m so thankful to read comments like these! Bless your hearts ;)

    By Melissa Swedoski on Jun 20, 2013

  15. Are you KIDDING me??? That is ridiculous and rude and just… what?!?!

    You should just move to NYC! You wouldn’t be oldest mom in the room, not by a long shot…

    By Deb @ Urban Moo Cow on Jun 20, 2013