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My 4-year-old daughter is fond of ‘warning’ signs these days. In fact, she’s obsessed with them.
I wish they’d put one on the Pandora’s box of A Child After 40. One that said: “Warning! This experience is not for the faint-hearted.”
The journey from the idea of www.AChildAfter40.com, to launching it in 2009 was nothing short of an act of faith.
I began with the basic premise that being older set us apart from the homogeneity of youthful motherhood, that we were working from the distinctive mindset of a wealth of life experiences, and that our challenges as mothers were unique to our generation.
A Homing Beacon for Mothers Over 40 Around the World
Since then, AChildAfter40.com has grown to stand for much more. It is our mission to change the dialogue in the media and the public arena about motherhood after 40–to bring reality to general perceptions, do away with outmoded stereotypes, and talk about what the rising trend of women having babies after 40 means for the future.
I believe that what I’m doing is a ‘higher calling’; I’m compelled to do it. if I didn’t feel such a sense of profound mission, my nearest relatives would probably be getting me certified down at the state psychiatric institution right now.
For years, I’ve put skin in the game to support my beliefs and the experience has afforded me a super-size take-out meal of life lessons.
Burning Time and Burning Out for Mother’s Day
As Founder of AChildAfter40.com, I’m constantly asked by other moms how I find the time to be on ‘round the clock kid-duty, while dedicating well over 30 volunteer hours a week on behalf of the Over-40 Motherhood.
The fact is, I don’t find the time. I don’t’ find it because, whoever is in charge of doling it out, then surreptitiously hides it like the Easter Bunny on steroids.
Alternatively—stoned on the ether of sleep-deprivation—I’ve often shuffle-marched mindlessly through my days like one of the returning, wounded soldiers from the Civil War.
No, I didn’t find Time. I burned it.
Planning the 2010 over-40 mom awareness campaign was a monumental task. In a matter of months, I gained 30 pounds, lost enough sleep to create a facial terrain closely resembling the map of the Yukon, and missed enough school field trips to have adequately provisioned any mother with a virtual treasure-chest of golden memories for her reclining years.
Pressure Cooker of Demands for Mothers Over 40
Oh, and let’s not forget the long-suffering Frank—my husband. Frank’s reliability as a support system for my over-40 mom mission was as solid as an organic climate.
Of course, that was until I mentioned jamming an awareness campaign in 2010 on the truth about later life motherhood into our already bloated schedule. Then the usually sanguine Frank began stomping through the halls muttering indignantly under his breath:
“Well, at least I’m doing MY job!” (Spoken with the self-righteous snort of a tightly wound 5th grade Classroom Monitor who has now grown up.)
And I thought, yep, that’s right, because when mom stops doing “her job”, the road in front of the house suddenly looks more pristine than our kitchen floor, and the toilets in the bathrooms bear close resemblance to those in a football stadium during playoffs.
The new family past-time is sock-sifting through the overflowing laundry basket for a clean pair, and dinner looks (and tastes)—as Frank was quick to point out—more like the blue plate special at the local truck stop, than a delightful coq au vin delicately resting on a noodle nest.
Modern mothers are spread too thin. When you think about it, most of them are expected to deliver a paycheck as well as be supermom at home. Dads are just expected to bring home a paycheck.
Role Model or Just Weird?
In the end, I became so stressed out with my burgeoning guilt-complex that I could have done the voice over sound track for Darth Vader…just breathing.
But as I often say, it can always get worse.
A few months after the campaign, it did, thanks to the precious gem of perspicacity proffered by a little girl. While volunteering in my son’s second grade art class, his perfectly-coiffed 7-year-old class mate peered at me suspiciously and asked:
“Are you pregnant?” Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings….
I had to console myself with the notion that at least she thought I was still young enough to ‘win one for the Gipper.’ But her words were a voicemail from God. The next day, I started a regimen of cardio 6 days per week, went on a low carb diet and tried to get at least 6 hours sleep a night. I began to look and feel better, actually managing to burn some fat instead of Time.
And then, as if to validate my calling, a month later, the CDC released statistics (http://www NULL.cdc NULL.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100406 NULL.htm) announcing that the birth rates in all age groups across America were down, except for women over-40—theirs had risen by 4%.
I guess the moral to this story—not to mention the plot—presented itself a few days after that.
During an interview for the Mother’s Day campaign, a (very) young reporter asked me: “What are you going to tell your children when they’re in their teens and have to deal with their mother being…well, you know, different?”
“Do you mean, like…weird?” I replied, with the low-lidded look of deceptive calm.
Were my children going to be embarrassed by their geriatric mother holding forth about her beliefs? And then the penny dropped.
“Well, I hope they’ll think I’m weird!” I said. “Because if that’s the same as having a mission, a burning desire to trail blaze and ignite social change in a world sorely in need of it—well then, I’m your mom.
“It’s that they’ll remember me for—not for being ‘normal’ and dressing up homemade mac’n’cheese like it was ambrosia fit for the gods, or pressing perfect pleats into their pants with the devoted TLC of the Virgin Mary.
In fact—as a product of my 1960s and 70s generation—like Jonathan Livingston Seagull (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Jonathan_Livingston_Seagull), I know I can’t follow the flock. If my children can say “My mom was an individual who remained faithful to her convictions and was not afraid to follow her dreams,” then I will have done my role-modeling job. If they think I’m just weird, I’ll remind them of the source of their genetics.
Ergo, for every call, there is a requisite answer.
Press The Reset Button On Maternal Stereotypes
I started AChildAfter40.com for a simple reason: to spread the word that women having children after 40 are owed a place of dignity, respect and honor equal to all other mothers in this world—it is our rightful claim. To do that, we need to press the re-set button on old stereotypes regarding motherhood.
Like it or not, the rising trend of motherhood after 40 is going to change the face of the family to come. Modern reproductive science–such as egg and ovarian tissue freezing–will see to that.
But most of all, I’ve learned I cannot fulfill this mission alone. The more over-40 moms who speak up and share their reality–their back story–we have every hope that rational understanding and acceptance will follow.
Let us all, together, make it so.
Notes for this blog:
For more on Angel’s Story, go to:
SHARE YOUR FREE MOTHER’S DAY TRIBUTE E-CARD
Mother’s Day 2013 is on Sunday, May 12th. AChildAfter40.com has launched a FREE Mother’s Day Tribute Album in an E-Card and social media friendly format. It features candid mother & child portraits and “pearls of wisdom” from real over-40 moms: the true faces and authentic voices of later motherhood.
Join us and help to dispel negative, stereotypes regarding mothers over 40. Please share this e-card via email and your social media and encourage friends to pass it on. Get the message out there: You can do it by emailing, tweeting or Facebooking the card and/or the blog from the share bar.
“CELEBRATE MOTHERHOOD OVER 40” HANDMADE WINE CHARMS
We are launching these elegant, handmade glass wine charms, made especially for AChildAfter40.com for this occasion. They come in an organza sachet as singles or “His & Hers”, and “Celebrate Motherhood Over 40” gift tag for Mother’s Day at only $3.95 each. Order now! They are ideal for accessorizing gift wrap, to adorn wine glass stems, or to wear as a personal charm. Proceeds will help to fund our online forums.
Photography donated by: Scott Lewis (http://www NULL.lewisimages NULL.com/)
Graphic designs for “Celebrating Motherhood After 40” Mom & Tot T-Shirts donated by graphic designer: Joan Lintz-Thompson (joanlintz_thompson null@null yahoo NULL.com).
- (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)
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