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11 Delightful Gifts Of Being An Older Mom

Having a baby over 40? The benefits of being an older mom.

No matter what you think about it, more women are having children at an older age, and are therefore becoming an “older mom.”

People are researching the likely benefits. Perhaps you’ll live longer. Some say your kid will have better communication skills and reap the benefits of more mature and secure parents.

I myself became “mom” when I was 39 years, 7 months and 11 days old, barely clutching the edges of my fourth decade of life. When I turned 40, I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t have time to ponder reaching midlife.

I would’ve been a horrible mom in my 20’s. Not only because I had chosen men to marry that already had children that they either ignored, or badly parented. I was creating such an emotional mess that someone depending on me, I’m afraid, would’ve been disastrous. It might have made me grow up, but I’d hate to have taken that chance.

So here I am, 22 years, 4 months, and 11 days later, looking back on how being a more seasoned person affected my parenting.  What was I able to figure out due to my actual number of years on this earth?

1) When, as an infant, I mistakenly gave him face cleanser instead of cough medicine, I didn’t turn myself into Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy Anonymous. After all, he slept well.

2) That time at two, his teacher raved that I must be the best mom in the whole world, because my child was such a dream, I knew that one day, another teacher would pull me aside, and inform me, “We have a bit of a problem.” Neither made me a good mom, or a bad mom. My focus was on him.

3) When, in kindergarten, my child wrote that the best thing about his mom was that she let him stay up til 10:00 to watch Star Trek, I didn’t rip his poster off the wall. I was tempted to have one of those, “private versus public” talks, but really… it was Star Trek.

4) Because I was told by his therapist that I wasn’t being playful enough, and in a hugely over-reactive, shameful, “How could I ever think I was a good mom?” moment, I found myself in my garbage can, pretending I was Sesame Street’s Oscar? I realized I’d gone overboard.

5) When we threw a birthday party, and almost everyone missed the fire truck and the fire dog because they were coming fashionably late, I smiled and served refreshments. What mattered had been the look in his eyes. And that was it.

6) That time when suddenly from the back seat of my car, his pubescent best friend popped this question, “Mrs. Rutherford, is masturbation wrong?” I didn’t lose my cool. I pulled over, and answered… carefully.

7) As I watched him struggle with self-esteem as a teenager, I loved. And I waited.

8) That time I had biting ants running up my legs while searching for an errant golf ball during a tournament he was playing in, I looked up to heaven, and thanked my dad for giving him a good golf swing. And wished I’d brought bug spray.

9) When we were in the car, driving him to college, and he informed us what he and his friends had really been up to that summer, I remembered all the things unspoken in my own childhood, and smiled.

10) As we drove away from Vanderbilt, leaving him with his freshman friends, days after he’d had lung surgery and wasn’t supposed to lift anything more than five pounds, I swallowed very hard, and trusted. Independence was an important gift. And he’d sworn he would text.

11) And now, when he’s thousands of miles away, carving out a life for himself, I wonder where his life will lead him. So I make myself go on one more walk so, hopefully, I’ll be around to see it.

I knew to wait. Knew to trust. And I knew to smile.

Because I knew what really mattered.

I’ll continue to relish what is.

And keep walking… avoiding ants if I can.

You can now hear more of Dr. Margaret on her new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford!

Margaret Rutherford

Dr. Margaret Rutherford is a clinical psychologist, who has practiced for over twenty years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since 2012, her writing has been found on her own website, as she writes about mental health, with a special focus on Perfectly Hidden Depression, midlife and relationship issues. She's the current mental health columnist for Midlife Boulevard, writes an advice column on Vibrant Nation, is a weekly columnist for The Good Men Project, and hosts a regular FB Live video session on depression for The Mighty. Her work and expertise can also be found on The Huffington Post, Sixty and Me, Better After 50, Reader's Digest, Prevention, Psychology Today, and The Cheat Sheet. Dr. Margaret recently has launched a new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford, where you can listen to her direct and down-to-earth advice.

Karen Hug

Saturday 18th of March 2017

Great article!! Midlife parenting is on my mind a lot. I started trying to have kids at 40 and ended up after many fertility treatments and losses, pregnant with twins at 45. My kids are now 16 years old, they are the light of my life. Had I given up I would have never known these two loving individuals. The teenage years are challenging, I worry a lot, but consider myself very lucky!!

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Monday 20th of March 2017

Thanks Karen. As someone pointed out, midlife parenting has its drawbacks. But everything has its drawbacks, Sounds like you and I have experienced much joy in the process.

Haralee

Friday 17th of March 2017

I am glad motherhood at 39+ worked out well for you. I do not encourage waiting that long for one real reason and one selfish reason. Real reason; fertility is more difficult as women age and secondary infertility is more common. Selfish reason; If you want to be an active grandparent the difference between 65 and 75 is a lot of energy and seeing your grandchild grow up is shortened!

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Friday 17th of March 2017

Hi Haralee. I went through three long years of infertility treatment, or I would have been a 36 year old mom instead of 39. I get the infertility part for sure. And as far as the grandmothering is concerned, great point -- yet I couldn't have it all. Thanks for commenting.

Jen Monks

Thursday 16th of March 2017

I had my kiddos when I was 37 and 39, so I completely identify with every bit of your post. I don't thin I would have been patient enough to do it well while in my 20s. BTW, I didn't know you had a new podcast. I can't wait to listen in. I struggled with depression and work-related anxiety for a few years, so I am always on the lookout for resources and strategies to keep them at bay.

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Monday 20th of March 2017

I'm right there with you Jen! And thanks for checking out the podcast! It's my newest steep learning curve and I'm loving it!

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