Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mid-Life Motherhood: Time Slip

One aspect of mid-life motherhood that never occurred to me until Cherub came along is the way it makes life stages slide around and crash into each other like tectonic plates.

Right now, for me the young (or not-so-young!) Mum stage has collided with the mother of older children phase. With Cherub I move in circles where even mothers with older children rarely have a child over 6 or 7, and many only have a 3 or 4 year old and maybe a baby or toddler. They talk about playgroups and lower schools; I'm more used to middle and upper school, SATS and GCSEs. Then most of my friends with older children don't have any children younger than 10, so are not exactly tuned in to potty training and toddler tantrums.

For Tevye there is a complete generation gap between himself and his work colleagues - or rather between his children and theirs. At 52 he is the second youngest of the seven who work in his office, whose ages range from early 50s to early 60s. None of the others have children still in school (the youngest just finished) and three colleagues are grandparents. Tevye has a child only just out of nappies.

As we get older this crunch between life stages - both our own, and ours compared to our peers - is going to repeat itself. The "empty nest" stage will be squeezed out completely between the family life stage and retirement. We will almost certainly be retired and living on a pension while Cherub is still at school.

The idea of being both an "old age pensioner" and the mother of a teenager is kind of strange. It has both positives and negatives. We are financially more stable than many younger families, having bought our house at a time when house prices were barely a third of what they are now, and I'm hopeful that having Cherub around will keep us feeling younger. On the other hand, parenthood gets more tiring with age, and the risk of health problems grows. And for us, missing out (at least partly) on the opportunity to spend time together as couple while (hopefully) still fit and well enough to enjoy it is a sacrifice. Of course, life comes with no guarantees whatever age one has children, and mid-life motherhood has plenty of compensations, but in effect we will lose a whole life stage.

Pros and cons, this peculiar time slip thing.


Elizabeth Foss said...

I think the most difficult aspect of midlife motherhood for me is the idea that my baby, born when I was 42, will lose her mother 20 years earlier than her brother, who was born when I was 22. I tell myself that her big sisters will step in and that God has a plan, but still, it makes me sad.

Mary G said...

I too am in your shoes ... my first "round" of kids were at 28 and 30. Then my husband died of cancer and I got remarried 5 years later. We had a second round of kids ... now 10, 9 and 6 (as compared to 20 and 18). I had JP at 41 ... and while I agree with Elizabeth's comment about one child having me shorter than the others ... I'm so grateful to God for giving us a chance for a family as we age ... a few kids who keep us active and young and loving life! Rick is 9 years older than I, so when JP was born he was 50 ... but he doesn't SEEM 56 ... he seems like all the other dads of kids of 10, 9 and 6 ... while I feel younger than many women who only have one at 40!

Hugs and prayers and understanding ... life and God are good and I just revel in being a mom ... even though sometimes folks think we're the grandparents!