“Are you the Grandmother?”
Besides being overtired, overweight and looking particularly lumpy in my too tight black pants and black sweater with the sparkly necklace…I was speechless. Yes, me, speechless.
I get it. I’m not looking my best. I’ve had two kids in 3 years, bought a house and have been unemployed for a while. I haven’t kept up with the cut/color/blow-out that is a prerequisite for a 4 year old’s birthday party. I’ve lost my niece, my mother in law, and have had numerous health issues with family far and near. I’ve looked for answers in the bottom of a bag of chips or a box of cookies or a bottle of wine more times than I would like to admit. I’m straining to keep all the bits of me that want to fall apart covered in black with red lipstick until I can get home and take off my shoes and my bra and just be quiet.
It’s called life, and I’m exhausted. I’m expletive exhausted. With a big capital expletive.
In your defense, you probably only ever saw my husband do drop off and pick up. My silent, handsome, overwhelmed man who is trying to navigate the waters of female hormones as one of us hits middle age hard. So when you confused him of being married to another mom who is significantly younger than myself…. I get it. I understand your confusion. I really do. Some families where we live have a big gap between dad’s age and mom’s age. Second marriages, marrying later (for men), it’s pretty common. I don’t blame you.
When you asked what it was like being an older mom…well, that got me a bit. I didn’t have any problem with fertility, I completely lucked out there, but thanks for asking. I have had friends and family that have had issues and it was a concern, but my husband and I were blessed. We didn’t wait to have kids, because we were ready to be married and have a family. We knew what it was like without each other and couldn’t wait to bring new lives into an already awesome and amazing world.
I don’t know what “being an older mom” is like because in my house, I am just “mom.” Just like you are, except you will have to go through being 30 and not knowing which way you want your career to go or if you will ever have one. Getting to 35 and feeling like life is just over because “you’re almost 40,” and getting to 40 and realizing that you still feel like you are 25 except for the pounding hangovers and the prescription glasses you must wear while reading. And you’ll get to do all that with children or young adults and a partner (husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, co-parenter– I don’t discriminate). Me, I guess I lucked out, because I got to do it on my own, and came out the other side really knowing who I was (without the “mom” title) and what I was up to creating in my life.
If I really think about it, being an “old mom” to me means I had a big, bold, beautiful life before children. I remember long lazy Sunday brunches with friends and fancy pants dinner parties with china that was not a wedding present, but painstakingly thrift shopped.
I had an amazing time in my 30s traveling the world, making friends and having experiences that most people hope to do in retirement. I’ve been swept into a tango in Buenos Aires, climbed the Great Wall, prayed at Buddhist temples in Japan, and was served high tea in the English countryside. I once bought a direct Priceline ticket for 50 bucks from JFK to SFO. Because, Welcome to the Internet (circa 2000).
I leaned in so hard that I pushed out the other side of my career. I’ve seen friends and mentors follow their dreams to the kind of success only written about in movies, and watched others pass on to the other side too young, too smart and too addicted. This will happen to you too, and I already feel for you, because you, unlike me, will have to explain it to your children.
So, if it makes me the “old mom” in your book, so be it. I’m cooler than Auntie Mame with no regrets. My bits are saggier, I don’t care about getting back to a certain shape or size, and to be honest, I never really did. My hair has finally started to glitter with gray and I might just try this out for a while. I am living this life as a hangover to the glorious life of independence, freedom and adventure in my younger days. And I love it.
Because my glorious life now means I am standing next to you at yet another blow up birthday party, eating stale cake and cardboard pizza, of which I will eat a second piece (Go ahead and judge me again, I can handle it).
And I get to tell these wonderful stories of adventure and freedom and far off places to my little girls so they too can dream of a world that is theirs for the taking and outside their area code.
Until next time (and I’ll save you some cake),