Keeping Up: On Being an Older Mom


Muffin and I were in an indoor mall playground the other day, and I watched as a woman entered with a little girl. The woman was attractive, but her hair was beginning to gray and there were definite wrinkles and signs of wear. Hmmm. I wonder if that’s the mom or the grandma I casually thought to myself.  There was something in that thought that struck me, and I looked more closely. The girl was probably eight or ten years old. The woman was, I guessed, in her early 50s. It hit me: in eight or ten years that’s going to me! I’ll be fifty. And my daughter will not yet be a teenager.

It’s not like I forget I’m an older mom. I’m reminded every time my knees protest when it’s time for a piggyback ride.  Or when—despite having spent a good part of my childhood in gymnastic classes or on my head—I get dizzy dancing with my daughter (which, for her, involves mostly spinning and swinging). I’m reminded when I hop on Facebook and see pictures of the teenagers that belong to my classmates. Most of all, I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror and see the beginnings of wrinkles and tired eyes staring back at me. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m fortunate enough to have some good genes, and I’m aging pretty well. (I think.) But still, I’m aging.

I try to be okay with it. I tell myself I’m a better mom because of my age, and I do believe that. With age comes maturity, confidence, moments of wisdom, and a lot more patience. Folks aren’t joking around when they say those kinds of clichés. They’re clichés for a reason. I’m a late bloomer in many respects. It’s taken me time to mature and to get some things right in my life. I really am a much better mom, I believe, than I would have been in my 20s, and probably even my 30s.

Of course, this older mom thing wasn’t by choice. I spent seven long years trying to start a family, and, with each passing year, I worried about the time and youth I was losing with my family-yet-to-be. But I subscribe to the ‘things happen for a reason’ belief—maybe not everything, but many things. And maybe that statement brings more comfort than anything. I believe that God brought my daughter into my life at a time when I was ready for her. Truly ready. I have more to offer my daughter now.

All that having been said, it does not making being an older mom any easier. Games of chase and horsey end a little more quickly, and I probably don’t carry her as much as she’d like.  But is it too much to ask to just be able to…keep up?

The physical part of keeping up… well, that is what it is. I can’t do anything about my age, but I can take care of myself and do something about the age I feel.  But it is the other kind of ‘keeping up’ that I worry about. I realize, of course, we’ll never by Lorelai and Rory of Gilmore Girls fame; I’ll never be the young, cool, hip mom.  And I mourn that lost opportunity—not out of vanity, but out of a simple desire to want to keep up.

I suppose when my daughter is a teenager, there’s a chance that she would think I was ancient even if I was only in my 30s. I don’t fear that my daughter will think I am old as much as I fear that there will come a time when my daughter will think I am not relevant. That by the time she needs me, really needs me for more than the physical stuff, she’ll think (and may be right) that what I faced in my life is so far removed from what she faces and will face in hers, that I won’t be able to understand what she is going through. That she won’t talk to me.  And that she won’t know me. And I won’t know her. Because I just couldn’t keep up.

Like the physical stuff, I’ll have to work on the other kind of keeping up as well, and probably harder. I’ll have to work to know what’s going on with her and around her. I’ll have to have an open mind and a lot of patience. Other than that, all I can do is pray and take solace in the fact that I love her, and that she will love me.  At least love is timeless. Love doesn’t need to keep up.


  1. Brewin says:

    What a wonderful post–one of your best! Hey, I’m no spring chicken myself, and although part of me would love to be one of the young moms jetting off the Europe after the kid finished high shcol for my 40th brithday, I would never have traded all those years of travel, late dinners out and spending abandon before the Jman–they’ve made me able to fully present in this expereince without any regrets. I don’t think your life and your experiences will ever be irrelevant, the love and determination you both have shown to have the Muffin are cause enough to keep you all connected for a lifetime…


  2. Irene Landon says:

    Yes – you will be irrelevant – because no matter what the age of the mother, even if you had a child at 16 – when they are teenagers you become irrelevant. Trust me on this. Fortunately it doesn’t last that long. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said
    (sic)” When I was 16 I thought my father a fool; when I was 21 I was surprised at how much the old man had learned in five years”.


  3. LeeWee says:

    I love this post. First of all you are aging very gracefully and I hope I follow. Second, you can’t worry (but always will) about these things, what happens happens. One of my favorite sayings is…Never regret anything. Know that you made the best choices, at the time, with the information you had. Not sure if this is a famous quote, but one of my professors said this and I truly believe in it. Love you!!!!


  4. Helenie says:

    I just have two things to say on this subject: STAY CURRENT. That’s all you have to do to not become “irrelavant.” If you put John and side by side, as smart as the man is,when it comes to day-to-day things, music, styles, people, stars, movies, etc. the man is absolutely CLUELESS. Not that I’m up on all of Black Eyed Peas’ music, but at least I know some of it. When he hears something about “Fergie” he’s thinking they are talking about Prince Andrew’s ex-wife!!!!! So you have two people, both having major influence on the outcome of their children, but one is perceived to be a brilliant businessman and the other parent is the one who is more fun to take a road trip with!

    If you stay current, you may not always know what you’re talking about (in Charlie’s opinion) but she won’t think you are so completely out of touch with LIFE as she knows it that she won’t have any use for you!


  5. Crunchy says:

    Hi there, I found you through Suburban Turmoil..you said pretty much what I did cept on my own blog instead of one of the eleventy billion comments she gets but ANYWAY…

    Yeah I am 40 with a 7, 5 and 7 month old. I feel OLD.
    And when my daughter asked how old I would be when she was twenty…it was a bit of a lurch. Mind you..she wanted me along on her goal to take out Santa for reasons I won’t go into here….but I guess ninja assassins need their moms too!


    kelly Reply:

    Thanks for commenting! You are my very first commenter whom I do not know personally (well, besides Lindsay because I commented on her Nashville Scene so her incentive is that she visits your blog, so it doesn’t count) Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.


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