Sharon H’s Story

By the time my mom was my age I had finished college. My life is very different: my daughter’s just 8 and by the time she’s finished college, I’ll be heading towards retirement (if I retire, though that’s a different story). Both in medical and actual terms, I’m an older mom – and that brings both triumphs and tribulations.

1. Perspective, Patience & Confidence

Perspective, patience and confidence are definitely on the ‘triumphs’ list when it comes to middle-aged motherhood. In my 20s I was still evolving and building my life and my career. Now I have confidence in my own abilities and I’ve reached many of the career milestones I wanted to achieve. Even more important, I know they pale into insignificance compared with the joy and challenge of parenting. At this stage in my life, with my own parents getting older and the knowledge that life is short, I’m more inclined to appreciate every moment that I spend with her or invest in her happiness and educational, emotional and social development. I can still remember the great times I had hanging out with my mom throughout my childhood, even when we weren’t doing anything special. I want my daughter to have those kinds of memories too.

Another triumph is the chance to see the world anew through the eyes of a child. Sometimes we can be so caught up in work that we forget about the fascination of a blade of grass or a butterfly. We ignore the wonder of a rainbow or the moon at night, and we forget to treasure every new experience. Having a child changes that. What’s more, I’m content to let her explore the world at her pace, with a lot more patience than I would have had in my 20s.

2. Energy Levels

Chalk this one up under tribulations. At the age of 25, which is the age my mom was when I was born, I had lots of energy. I could hold down a full time job and party all night for successive nights without it affecting my work performance or my enjoyment. In my late 40s, that’s not the case. Although I’m relatively fit, my energy levels are definitely lower, so a couple of active days means I don’t want to play when my daughter is raring to go. At the end of the work day, when I’m ready to sit down and relax, that’s when she needs my attention and sometimes it’s hard for me to work up the necessary enthusiasm.

Along with that, I’ve discovered that I just can’t hack sleepless nights anymore. I learned that the hard way, as my daughter took a couple of years to decide to sleep through the night. This was a big problem once I returned to work. Frankly, I was a zombie, and it was a good thing my bosses were understanding. Fuzzy thoughts made everything take twice as long as it should at a time when I was balancing the new responsibilities of parenting. It wasn’t pretty. Luckily, that didn’t last, and broken nights are now rare. When they do happen, though, the result is the same – a less productive work day just when I should be at the top of my game.

3. Thinking Time

At any age, being a parent is a full time job – think 25/7 (and yes, that is a deliberate mistake). I’m a writer and thinking time is an important part of my creative process. While in my 20s, my thoughts when I relaxed were often about a creative challenge, now they are more likely to be about the mechanics of the following day: school uniforms, extra-curricular activities and my daughter’s general welfare. That’s not a bad thing, but creativity can suffer though, to balance that, sometimes your child provides a perspective that you hadn’t thought of, giving you a new angle to approach an issue or problem.

4. Disposable Income

When I was in my 20s, my income wasn’t enough to support the lifestyle to which I aspired. As an older parent, I have more disposable income, which means it’s easy to keep my daughter supplied with books, spring for after-school activities, fund trips and more. I think this will give her a rich educational experience and make her an all-rounder, which gives me a lot of satisfaction, too. The potential down side is that she will take all of this for granted, but it’s my job to make sure she retains a balanced attitude while enjoying the benefits.

While there’s no doubt that being an older parent can take a physical toll, I’ve found that mentally and emotionally it’s been a good experience. At this age, I’ve got my act together and I think that makes me a better role model for my daughter. Of course, every generation thinks that parents get things wrong, so check back with me when she’s in her teens and see if I feel the same. I hope I do!

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Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Her story was original published on Living Better at 50+.