I realized at the bus stop the other day that I’m officially in the “older mom” category these days. This probably should have been obvious me to (after all, my oldest daughter is in college), but it actually came as a bit of a shock as I looked around at the younger moms pushing strollers and running after toddlers. That was me 17 years ago, when my first child was little, but it isn’t me today, now that my fifth child is a kindergartener. I’m a little bit sad about this change, but I can see some unique benefits and joy that my age brings.
- Perspective – Being an older mom has given me a perspective that I just didn’t have when I was younger. I used to roll my eyes when people would say things like, “Enjoy it – they grow up so fast.” As a young mom of four babies/toddlers, I felt like I might be stuck there forever. I often found myself wishing for them to be just a little older/independent/well-behaved. These days, I look at my five-year old and know from experience that the days and years will indeed slip through my fingers. This first-hand knowledge impacts my attitude toward parenting. At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I’m enjoying it all more – the good and the bad.
- Time – My days as a young mom were marked by lots of noise and messes and craziness! I was continually cleaning, cooking, and changing diapers – a whirlwind of busyness just trying to stay on top of it all. My life is still busy, but it’s a different kind of busy now. The older kids are more independent, and I have time to sit with my youngest – to draw and read and hear about her day. We walk back from the bus stop slowly and look at leaves and bugs. My age has taught me to take the time, even when it doesn’t feel like I have it, to invest in the small moments of my little one’s life.
- Sense of Humor – When my older kids were little, I spent way too much time and energy making sure they were well-behaved and dressed appropriately. I still try to make sure my daughter is fully dressed in public, but I’ve relaxed my standards quite a bit! Last summer she wore her Speedo swimsuit and pink cowgirl boots to the pool every morning. We may not have many perfect photos of her, but we sure do have some funny ones. I find myself laughing at (in a good way) and with my kids more now than I ever have. Seventeen years has taught me not to take myself or my kids too seriously; their behavior and appearance is not a reflection of my self-worth as a parent.
If you’re a younger mom, maybe you can learn some of these lessons earlier than I did. If you’re an older mom, try to enjoy this unique season with all of it’s wisdom and benefits. As I watch the young moms at the bus stop, I do miss those days of little ones and energy and activity, but I’m also learning to appreciate this season of being an “older mom.”