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On the day of my fortieth birthday—single, childless, and with few viable relationship prospects—I began the long, dark journey into grieving for lost motherhood.
It was not what I had chosen for myself. It had never occurred to me that I might become an older mother. In fact, I’d married at the politically correct age of twenty-six, in a small Catholic church on the bank of the River Thames, in England, back in the late 1980’s.
Two years later, my then husband informed me he did not want children for the foreseeable future. Exit stage left: to a painful divorce that consumed three more precious childbearing years.
Then, there was the de rigueur emotional recovery time after divorce, during which I launched the first national support organization in the UK for divorcing couples in the early 1990’s. Before then, divorcing Brits had surreptitiously cried into their gin and tonics at night, and then presented the world with a stiff upper lip at daybreak.
What Happened To Mr. Right?
Becoming a mother after 40 was not something I’d bargained for. I had relationships in the intervening years, but for reasons I couldn’t identify, the Ideal Partner, or the Good Father, were nebulous concepts that never found a reality. Childlessness was not my intention. But it seemed to be my fate. Why? It would be years before I could begin to answer that question.
Two weeks after my fortieth birthday, an event second only to the Immaculate Conception occurred: as if on cue, my second husband walked through the door with two roses in his hand and the promise of a new life. We immediately got down to the business of parenthood and I conceived naturally and gave birth at age 41 and again at 44.
Are Older Mothers Are “Selfish”?
Until then, I had been blissfully ignorant of the fast-rising number of women having children after forty over the last decade, along with the growing storm of controversy surrounding what is now acknowledged to be an unprecedented historical phenomenon.
However, media coverage, since the turn of the millennium, has depicted women as intentionally “delaying” motherhood, and as selfishly putting their careers first. Women having children later, or “mature mothers”, were painted with the faint, unsavory brushstroke of moral deficiency. They were, after all, mothers of advanced maternal age.
Why Are Mothers Over 40 Are On The Rise?
Yet, the truth is, that the rising trend of mothers over 40 is the result of cultural forces far greater than the self- interested intentions of a few aging women. It is driven by a juggernaut of combined social changes that have their roots in the 1960’s. From women’s liberation, economic changes in the workplace, and tantalizing advancements in reproductive science—to the rise in the median age for first marriages, combined with a 50% divorce rate for first-timers—we are headed towards deep-seated changes in the face of the nuclear family.
And there’s an old saying: “There’s no point in closing the barn door after the horse has bolted!” Ergo, the trend toward delayed motherhood is here to stay. Just knowing this might have been enough for me. But it was soon followed by a life-changing, watershed moment in personal history.
Don’t Call Me Grandma!
One day, when I was 47, my 5-year-old son turned to me and said: “Hey, Mama, guess what you’re going to be when I grow up?”
Intrigued, I asked him: “What will I be when you grow up?”
“My grandma!” he laughed uproariously.
Suddenly, it all made sense. I had been labeled “high risk” and “advanced maternal age” by a fearful medical profession, openly vilified as “selfish” and “irresponsible” by a media and public disinterested in digging more than skin deep, and socially isolated by my maternal peer group because I was an “older” mother.
Join The Later Motherhood Revolution
On that day, in 2008, I became an advocate and educator for the women who had found motherhood later, and for those to come.
I’ve been blogging on being an older mom since 2009 at FlowerPowerMom.com (http://www NULL.FlowerPowerMom NULL.com), a site widely recognized for being the voice for mothers over 40, in the USA, Canada and abroad. I’ve been blessed with tremendous media support and an opportunity to spread the word via CNN (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=atScMih4_d0&feature=plcp), PBS, along with radio and newspapers across the country.
Now, more than 3 years on, I’ve begun to realize that we are on the cusp of the next generation of mothers over 40. It’s time to re-birth the website and and leave “Flower Power” behind. We’ve re-launched as: A CHILD AFTER 40–For Women on The Journey of Later Motherhood (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) at http://www.AChildAfter40.com. A Child After 40 offers online discussion forums, free tip sheets and online magazine, and a new blog format aiming to help you along the way!
Join me in the later motherhood revolution!
Notes for this blog:
- (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/health-headlines/women-increasingly-going-online-to-seek-free-sperm-donors-1 NULL.1590245)
Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
AARP's "Inside E-Sreet" on PBS TV (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
(http://twitter NULL.com/achildafter40) (https://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/AChildAfter40) AChildAfter40 (http://pinterest NULL.com/AChildAfter40/)
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