My Mom Had Me at 40, and I Had a Perfectly Normal Childhood
Maybe you're set on achieving career goals and there's no stop in sight. Maybe you're ready to have a family, but you aren't in the financial position you want to be in before you start that journey. Maybe you're set in your career and your finances, but you just haven't found the one. Maybe, like so many women, you've been struggling with fertility issues. From the product of a family that bloomed pretty late, I say it's OK. Take your time.
My parents met when they were pretty young — my mom 25 and my dad 27. Within six months, they were engaged, and by month 11, they were married. Young and in love with no hesitations about starting a life together, they bought a cute house in an adorable, family-friendly neighborhood and set out to start a family of their own.
It took 12 years of trying, but my parents were finally able to conceive and carry to full term. My mom gave birth to my brother at 37, me at 40, and my younger sister (who, originally, they thought was a tumor on my mom's uterus) at 43. And we had the best, most normal American childhoods.
My mom stayed home to take care of the kids while my dad worked full time. In the Summers, my mom would take us all to the neighborhood pool, where we'd spend all day playing while she hung out with the other moms. We didn't realize our parents were about 10 years older than our friends' parents, and it didn't really matter. My dad played outside with us and coached my brother in football, and my mom spent countless hours being dragged around malls by my sister and me.
By the time high school rolled around, we were aware of the age difference between our parents and our friends' parents, and I actually really appreciated it. While I had some friends with moms who were more in the drama than their kids were, my parents seemed a little calmer and wiser. My mom was my mom — she wasn't competing with me to be hotter, more fun, or to have more attention on her, which was invaluable to a teenage girl's fragile sense of security.
I will say, having kids at the time they did helped keep my parents young. While their peers were getting their kids married, becoming grandmas and grandpas, and planning for retirement, my parents were carting preteens and teenagers around in their cars, being forced to listen to the newest music and learn the latest lingo. They got smartphones just a few years after we did and were soon texting us, adding us on social media, and inviting us to play Words With Friends. They didn't retire early, because who could retire while helping three kids through college?
Instead, they enjoyed work, helped us overcome our young life crises, picked us up when our cars would break down (due to poor maintenance on our parts), and found numerous ways to tell us that some of the partners we brought home in our teens and young 20s were not good matches for us. Now that my siblings and I are out of college, my parents both still work because they love what they do. Life is far from over for them, and I largely attribute that to their kids keeping them young later into their lives.
Now that I'm an adult, having a mom who had me at 40 has entirely freed me from any fears that time is running out for me to have a family. I didn't feel like I had to settle for the wrong partner in my early 20s in order to start trying to have kids. I didn't feel like I had to prioritize relationships over my career goals and my life dreams. I'm currently engaged, and at the time of our wedding in 2021, my fiancé will be 32 and I will be 28. That sounds fairly old compared to most of my friends' parents who started families in their early 20s, but I feel like we have our entire lives ahead of us to decide if and when we want to bring a child into this world. There's a lot more life I want to experience first, and I am going to take my time doing that.
As my friends and I quickly approach our 30s and even mid-30s, I find myself telling my mom's story over and over again. To my friends who are single and nervously looking at their years ahead and to my friends who are struggling with fertility issues of their own, I happily remind them that my mom had me at the age of 40 — YES, 40 — and my life has been wonderful. It's a shocking number to hear when you're looking at 30 worried about time running out. In the urgent sense we have of "now or never," we sometimes overlook the years stretching out ahead of us to accomplish our goals and create the lives of our dreams.
If children happen for you while you're younger, that's incredible and awesome and I hope you live your life journey and love every moment of it. If children happen for you later, even into your 40s, that's just as incredible and awesome and you have nothing to worry about. Trust me: I'm a product of an "older mom," and I think I turned out pretty OK.