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May 18, 2007
New (old) parents
Earlier this week, I was a guest on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" talking about the ever-expanding age limits on motherhood. (You can listen to the link here.)
According to U.S. Census data, the fastest-growing age group for new mothers is 40 to 44. The poster child for older moms is the woman in Romania who gave birth at age 66. I personally know a woman in her 50s who is pregnant with twins. And just a few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone from Motherhood Later Than Sooner, which seems to be a great resource for older moms. It's a topic that is near and dear to my heart (or should I say ovaries?) as I creep up on the big 4-0.
In fact, as I sat down to write this, two women had this exact convesation over in the next cubicle:
Woman #1: Are you thinking about starting a family?
Woman #2: I just got married, so not yet.
Woman #1: After I was 35, my energy level just dropped. In some ways, I wish I had kids in my early 30s. I'm just putting that out there.
I'd love to hear from Working Parents--moms as well as dads--on this topic. How old is too old? What are the pros and cons of waiting to have kids? And what impact can later parenting have on a career path?
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I'm thinking no woman should be allowed to be in charge of small children while she herself is going through menopause. But, that's just me (age 48), on a particularily bad peri-menopausal day.
Posted by: chris at May 21, 2007 11:41 AM
I had my first son at 34 - I was an "older first time mom" - I had my third and last 3 weeks before my 39th. Now at nearly 42 I wish I were 5 years younger b/c maybe just maybe we'd leave the door open for a fourth.
So - the only reason I would have started sooner (and #1 son took a while due to infertility issues) is that I didn't know I'd want more than 2. I always thought I'd be career driven - but I'm not. I like my job but it's just a job - working keeps me sane but my family makes me happy.
That said - I'm constantly exhausted - the reason we're not leaving the door open at 42 is b/c we're broke, we have one child w/some health issues and the risks at my age are scary for us - and well - we don't want to be retired and still helping pay for college.
Posted by: maria at May 21, 2007 12:31 PM
I'm very happy I was 38 when I had our son. Of course I'm tired, but most of the parents I know are much younger and they don't seem to have any more energy than I do. I learned a great deal from my late 20's to my late 30's the most important being how to relax. Life should be fun. I knew that in my 20's but didn't always act on it. Now I do. We dance every day, make up songs, paint and bake cookies and make a beautiful mess. I'm in my 40's, work outside of my home full time (out of necessity) and haven't experienced a huge drop in energy (a drop in energy in my 30's would have sent me to doctor!) We take good care of our health so perhaps that is one key. We also have more money now which has made private school within our reach, something that would not have been possible when we were younger. Most importantly my husband and I have a very strong marriage, we understand our strengths and weaknesses and have more patience with each other and our son. Every age has a unique blessing to offer both parent and child. For us, we feel blessed that our son came when he did.
Posted by: tina at May 21, 2007 02:12 PM
I'm always baffled when this is positioned as a "choice" like choosing when to buy a house or leave the city for the suburbs. I would like to have a child now if I could - but its the relationship part of it, the uncontrollable part of it - that is just not coming together. Sometimes late motherhood just happens to a woman, because she hasn't found someone she'd want as the father of her child.
Posted by: JEH at May 21, 2007 07:11 PM
I had my first baby one month before my 41st birthday. It was a good decision for me...but probably not for everyone.
Everyone ages differently. At 41, I've got high energy, I'm happy and fulfilled with a great business. My husband and I are emotionally and financially stable enough to spend lots of time with our son. Our baby is a happy little guy.
If I would have had kids earlier, I probably wouldn't have been ready. I was too focused on career and myself. At 41, I'm ready!
I say let each couple make their own decision...and let's not judge. Some people are ready at 20, and others of us are late bloomers. Listen to what your body and instinct tell you.
Posted by: Phyllis at May 24, 2007 03:52 PM