Younger Mother/ Older Mother
September 1, 2006
I have been both.
I am 37 years old with a 1 yr old.
I was 25 years old when my oldest was 1 yr old. (Which I realize in certain parts of the country is not considered young, but here, where I live, it is. People still ask me if my oldest children are my sibings. And I should probably admit that I am more tempted to say yes now than I was back then.)
I read a news story this past week that comapred older mothers to younger mothers and talked about the pros and cons of each choice. While I am not exactly what they were talking about in the story (a news story which I can no longer find online and think perhaps it must have been a dream), older meant putting off childbearing until you had already established a career and done things *other* than being a mother. I definitely notice a difference in how I parent now compared to how I parented when I was 25.
1) I am old and tired now, damn it. For example, I am much more likely to let them tear everything out of a cabinet, splash their watercolor paints everywhere, or play in a mud pit. The reason… it is entertaining them for a longer amount of time than it will take for me to clean it up later.
2) When I was younger I didn’t worry as much about my children’s safety. I mean I worried about the normal things like falling down the stairs, or being run over by a speeding car that happened to jump the curb and drive 100ft across my lawn and run us over, or being trapped in a car under water and not be able to break the window and free us. You know, normal fears.
Now that I am older, I find that I worry all the time that something is going to happen to my children. Perhaps as a result of facing my own mortality, or maybe my own craziness has just gotten the better of me. It’s hard to say.
3) I don’t worry about small stuff. I look at my almost 12 yr old and realize he doesn’t want to drink from a bottle, have me wipe his butt (in fact he would be horrified if he knew I even mentioned he had a butt), or sleep in bed with us. I figure eventually the youngest ones will feel the same.
4)I allow them to do more for themselves at a younger age. Did you know that 5 yr olds can be taught to make a pot of coffee? Yes they can. There isn’t anything overtly dangerous about it since it isn’t hot until you turn it on and that is supposed to happen after you are done with the grounds, water, and filter. We have had a few more broken glass carafes than I would like. But it is worth it. (See number 1 above)
5) I don’t worry as much about what other people think. When I was a younger mother I felt like I had to prove my competence. I see this in my niece who just had her first baby. She goes out of her way to prove how she is a perfect mother and needs help from no one. Now I am more than willing to let my children go out to the grocery store wearing combinations of pajamas, bathing suits, and tutus if it will make them happy. I am no longer up for fighting over things that don’t matter. And I no longer have the desire to be perfect. It took too much energy. (See number 1 above)
6) I forget things. Or it could be that my children have me convinced that I forget things with the way they constantly tell me, “But you said x,y,z yesterday.” And I am left scratching my head and wondering did I really say that I would buy him a motorcycle and let him build a ramp in the front yard for doing tricks.
I am sure that there are other things that are different bewteen how I am as a parent now and how I was when I was young(er). But all this typing has tired me out. I need a nap. Hopefully by the time I am done sleeping my 5 yr old will be finished juggling his hand grenades in the middle of the highway and be able to fix me some damn coffee.
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