I know parents a decade younger than me who need an afternoon nap after a morning at the park. I won’t judge their naps if they won’t judge my grey hair.
I just turned 48 earlier this month and my sons are 3 and 5 years old. Whenever people hear this, I get the usual response: “You don’t look that old!” If that’s true (and I’m not sure it is) it’s because people generally expect the mother of two preschoolers to be younger than me. But I am 48, even if I don’t feel like it most of the time.
Chasing after two young kids in my 40s hasn’t been much harder than working 60-hour weeks in retail when I was in my 20s. And yet, our youth-obsessed media and the rare portrayals of older moms in film and TV help perpetuate a number of ridiculous myths.
Myth 1: Older mothers don’t have enough energy for their children
Spend a couple of hours at the city park and you will hear every parent—from the barely out of college types to the ones with grey streaking their hair—complain about needing a nap. Sure, there is always that one special snowflake who is energetic enough to take a spin class after a 12-hour day with little ones, but raising children is exhausting no matter what age you are. And I know parents a decade younger than me who need an afternoon nap after a morning at the park. I won’t judge their naps if they won’t judge my grey hair.
Myth 2: Older mothers won’t be around for their children as long as younger mothers will
Look, there are no guarantees in life. We all hope to live to be a ripe old age, but who knows what might happen? Life expectancies are longer than they were when our parents had us and when their parents had them. Plus, older parents are often more health conscious than their younger, barely-out-of-the-club-scene counterparts. We are aware of our own mortality and we do our best to make sure we’ll be around for our families for as long as possible.
Myth 3: Older mothers might not live to see their grandchildren born
My only response to this is: I didn’t have children so I could have grandchildren. Who knows if my kids will even want to have kids of their own? Fewer women are having children these days. Also, many of the young moms I knew in my 20s are now raising their grandchildren, which basically means they’re doing the same thing I’m doing at my age, except they’re doing it for the second time in their life.
Myth 4: Older mothers are helicopter parents
Here’s the truth: There is no age limit to the helicopter parent, the free-range parent, or any other parenting style. But older mothers have more life experience, have been around long enough to see trends come and go and aren’t necessarily interested in hovering over their children 24/7.
Myth 5: Children of older mothers will be embarrassed by them
Did your mother ever embarrass you? Mothers embarrass their children for one reason or another. It’s one of the perks of the job. And all children think their parents are “old.” It’s just the way it is.
Myth 6: Older mothers aren’t interested in friendships with younger moms
The thing about having children roughly the same age as women who are sometimes close to half my age is that we already have something in common. I care less about the chronological age of another mom than I do about the important stuff: Does she have a good sense of humor? Is she easy-going and fun to be around? Will she watch my kids while I go get a pedicure? It may not be enough to bond us for life, but having kids the same age is enough to foster a friendship.
I’ve heard every one of these myths stated as fact by people younger, older, and the same age as me. And to them I say: Don’t knock it until you’ve been in my shoes. There’s a lot to be said for being an older mother. And I’m savoring every bit of it.
Wright is a full-time freelance writer and a blogger for Mom.me. She has also written for the Washington Post, Mommyish, Narratively, Cosmopolitan and others. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two young sons. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
This originally appeared on Mom.me. Republished here with permission.