Too Young To Have a Mother That Old?
With all the medical technology that enables older and older women to have children, maybe it’s time to look at it from the adult child’s point of view.
My realization came when I was 40, a few months before my mother died at 82. After my father passed away she was stricken with dementia and Parkinson’s Disease and admitted to a nursing home. “You’re her granddaughter, right?” the nurse asked, filling out a financial contract. “When will her daughter be here to sign?”
Mom looked up, eyes blurry behind her glasses. “This is my baby,” she whispered, voice thin as air.
“That’s right,” I said, patting her liver-spotted hand.
My parents were almost 42 and 44 when I was born in 1961—today that seems young—and my two siblings were already away at college. “You were a change-of-life baby,” my mother told me often, “a great big surprise.”
Now I have friends, pregnant for the first time, older than my mother when I was born. It is wonderful that, these days, most “change of life” babies are not mistakes, but rather meticulously planned and pined for. The conscientious, scrupulously prepared moms boast about their readiness to parent, and finally being mature enough to do a good job. They’ve got college funds invested, and Baby Einstein tapes feeding through their well-monitored bellies. From mom’s perspective, all is well.
“The baby will keep me young,” they might even say.
My mother said that, too.
Maybe from her perspective, I did. From my point of view, I wasn’t doing such a good job.
All kids fear death, but many a child born to older parents intuitively understands their folks will die sooner. They know younger parents have more energy and stamina and, all things being equal, time left on the planet. My parents never wanted to discuss that.
“Talking about it makes me feel old,” my mother said.
For the record, there will be moms that have babies at 47, and then live to be 90 and healthy; but many will die younger—a combination of genes, illness, and fate. Plastic surgery, dermal fillers, and Botox can make aging easier to deny, make older moms look like older sisters, but even if parents partake of them, they should address the fears my folks never would.
Back at the nursing home there were apologies. “I don’t know what to say,” the nurse said.
No one does,” I told her, and signed the document.
She looked from my silver-haired mother to me. “You’re too young to have a mother this old,” she whispered.
“I’ve heard that all my life,” I reassured her. That day alone I’d heard it from the ambulance driver, the attending physician, two healthcare aids, the hospital discharge planner, and that 45-year old friend, six months pregnant with her first child.
Only my friend had the look of fear in her eyes. That’s because there is something, in all her planning, she wasn’t facing—the fact that her child could someday be in the same situation. First, a child of older parents, then a caregiver of older parents, then the adult child of parents who have passed away. I figured she’d deal with it when she was finally ready. If she wanted my advice I’d tell her to start talking to the little one about it early, in words and concepts he could understand. Let him know that she would teach him all she could about herself, so that the part of her that wishes she could be with him for the duration of his life will, in fact, live on inside him forever.
I’d tell her to make that her truth. She would, however, have to trade it for the illusion that her baby will keep her young.
I hope, for her child’s sake, she doesn’t wait too long.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook