At my first day in Mommy & Me, I made a new friend. We seemed so much alike; both of us were bubbly blondes and first-time mothers to three-month-old babies. We even shared the same alma mater. “What year did you graduate?” she asked, as excited as I was to find common ground. “1992,” I told her. “How about you?” She paused, seeming surprised. “Um, 2002.” That put her age at about 30. Wow, I thought. What a young mom. As I got to know the other women in the group, I discovered that they were all in their early thirties. At 40, I was the outlier. The weird one.
Maybe this shouldn’t have been such a shock, but I’ve been living in a bubble — more specifically, Los Angeles. Our greatest natural resource is beautiful pregnant actresses in their forties like Halle Berry, Salma Hayak, and Kelly Preston. My own girlfriends aren’t famous, but we’ve been acting like we are. Our thirties were spent on career building, exotic travel, and even more exotic dating. Although I was 40 when I finally had a baby, I was the first one on my block. I thought I was right on schedule.
Once I realized I was the odd mom out, it was time for spin control. I badly wanted to befriend these Mommy & Me ladies and feared the age gap would create distance, so going forward, I avoided specifics about my stats. I referred to spending “a couple” of years in New York (it was seven) and having worked in Los Angeles as a television producer for “a while” (it was a decade). I hadn’t lied this much about my age since my Match.com days.
Thanks to pretty good skin, I passed as a peer, but inside, I felt strangely insecure. Who were these confident women who knew what they wanted in life so much earlier than I did? In some ways, they seemed older and wiser than me, if only because they’d charted such a mature, traditional course. When they were meeting their Mr. Rights, I was exploring the virtues of one-night stands. While they were registering for wedding china, I was breaking plates in Greece. I’d always felt comfortable with my choice to delay settling down, especially since I had been lucky enough to eventually find a wonderful partner and have a family. But, suddenly, looking at these perky “normal” mommies, I felt a little jealous. I wanted to be 30 too. I wanted more energy and less sagging. I wanted time.
Hiding my age from my new friends wasn’t sustainable. The whole point of Mommy & Me is creating a supportive environment to share your deepest and darkest secrets — the stuff you’re afraid to tell your husband (especially when it’s how mad you are at him for not pulling his weight with the baby). My big fear, the one I yearned to spill in safety, was that the longer I nursed, the harder it would be to get pregnant again. Of course, the only reason I was in such a rush to get cracking on baby #2 was the fear of declining fertility at my age.
So, finally, I opened up about being 40, and the worries that went with it. It turned out not to be a big deal. Everyone had their issues. Several moms confessed that they sometimes felt resentful about what they’d given up to have a baby — their career flexibility, their free time, their very identities. I can honestly say that by the time I had my baby, I was too old to feel torn. In the wilderness of my thirties, I’d had all the freedom I could handle and I didn’t miss it. Letting down my guard, and getting to know these younger women, whom I truly adore, is what finally helped me appreciate the benefits of becoming a mom at 40. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.