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By Angel LaLiberte, Founder of FlowerPowerMom.com.

In the fall of 2012, I will be fifty-two, my son ten, and my daughter seven years old. Lately, I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn to roll over to my husband and say: “Whose idea was this, anyway?”

Yesterday, as if to salt the wound, he emailed me a photo he happened to find in his computer archives. In it, I was forty-three—looking fresh as a daisy—while cradling my first-born in my arms. I stared back into my own gleeful eyes and whispered: “Man, little did you know what you were in for!”

Today, any woman in her early forties looks like lush Venus rising from her clam shell, compared to what I’m seeing in the mirror a decade on. She still has a hormonal spring in her cheeks, while blissfully unaware of the parenting and aging hurdles that lie ahead.

The fact is, no woman can predict what sort of surprises Mother Nature has in store at the bottom of the menopausal Cracker Jack box.  In my case, it was like suddenly strapping on a fat suit, even though my diet had hardly changed.

If you’re petite, like I am, a fat suits means sore ankles, joint stiffness, compounded with a heapin’ helpin’ of low self-esteem every time you have the misfortune to streak past a looking glass.

The cure lies in enough salads and supplements to make a rabbit high on bliss. That, and unrelenting daily visits to the gym, eight hours of sleep a night, garnished with as little stress as possible.

Try that with two strong-willed children on the verge of Tweenhood and over-scheduled to the hilt.

Our child psych expert, Dr. Saposnek (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/our_expert_panel/#saposnek-ex-top)will tell you that, for many, over-scheduling children is a way of “keeping up with the Joneses” and can be hard on families. He also says that later mothers are less likely to cave in to demand.

In my case, it’s two children who know what they want, have a natural proclivity to flout any influence that vaguely resembles authority–all juiced up on such an abundance of energy that it leaves me salivating. They can’t be doing enough.

Of course, an unforgiving public will stare at me and my children and think: “poor parenting skills”.  This may be, in good part, true. I first lost my mother at four-and-a-half years old, and often find myself grasping at straws as to what this job entails exactly.

However, lest we forget, in the mad rush to create children in our forties—along with all of the fertility fears it generates—let me remind all that the type of personality our children are born with is a genetic crap-shoot.

My nine-year-old son is a Libra—for what that’s worth—and is extremely sensitive to what he perceives as the slightest injustice. My six-year-old daughter is gifted to the level of genius and thinks that entitles her to stamp her foot and refuse to be educated.

Of course, on any occasion our children tend to be different from the status quo, in a manner anything but pleasing, parents are likely to get out the guilt stick and start beating themselves. To this, I’m no exception.

Lately, I’ve begun to take comfort in reading books on discipline, parental coaching, and coping with strong-willed kids. Often, I find there’s more comfort in just knowing that there are enough parents out there flailing, out of their depth, in the psyche of The Mystic Child, to generate such a plethora of books.

I am not alone on my journey.

Still, I must also find a way to shore up the flood of middle-aged spread, sup from the grail of health and long life, and scoff at the notion that this is merely the easy part. The shoals of Tweenhood lie ahead.

Notes on this blog:

Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)(www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She actively advocates for more supportive attitudes towards women having children in midlife and to raise awareness of the real issues related to later life motherhood.

Angel also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. To join, go to: http://www.achildafter40.com/a-child-after-40-online/ (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/a-child-after-40-online/)

Angel gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally. For her full story, go to:http://www.achildafter40.com/my-story/ (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/my-story/)

13 Responses to Fifty-Two and Fearing Tweenhood

  1. Marna Gatlin (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org) says:

    I feel your pain and I so get you. My child is 11 going on 12 and we have hurtled into puberty. All I can tell you is this ride is more crazy than trying to have a baby so many years ago.

  2. Magic and Mayhem (http://magicandmayhem NULL.homeschooljournal NULL.net/) says:

    Boy can I relate. I’m 43 now (hubby is 51) and we have an 8 month old, a 5 year old, a 9 year old, a 12 year old and a 14 year old. I can say without question that my baby is my easiest child. The teen years are BRUTAL, even when you start with a wonderful connection and a child who always seemed like a model child. Gifted kids are especially challenging. I suggest reading up on issues like existential depression now to be prepared for that whole ball of wax. Every age has its own new issues, and every child goes through them in a different way. None of this is for sissies. :)

  3. Karen Hug-Nagy (http://www NULL.mommies-in-orbit NULL.com) says:

    OMGosh, this sounds like my life, I too, feel your pain. I’m 56 and have eleven and 1/2 year old twins. I feel worn out and my knees hurt!! I ask myself what the heck did we do? I went into menopause last October and I look and feel fatter and older, yikes! I love my kids, but geez, this is hard. And tweens are up and down all the time. My daughter and I were like two bulls this morning chasing a red cape, her with an abundance of hormones and me with dwindling hormones, what a pair. Hang in there ladies!

    • Helen Maguire says:

      Hi I totally understand. I had my child when I was 43 and he his now approaching 11 and I am not looking forward to the teenage years but it should be fun (and exhausting).
      take care Helen

  4. Karen says:

    We are 2nd marriage folks, each with two grown children from 1st marriages and a 5 year old born very shortly before my 45th birthday. Recent blood level check for hormones show I’m not close to menopause at 50. But I’m definiteky feeling like I’m aging fast the last couple of years. Doing fine keeping up with son… But we had to ensure we have good life insurance set and more. I’ve taken big steps to keep myself healthy for our son. Not sure what his teen years will bring but he is a great kid and a blessing.

  5. Lisa says:

    I can relate and my daughter is only two. However at two “I want” and “I need” is as ubiquitous as “no, no!” and flinging green vegetables on the floor. Although my daughter is very sweet natured she has made her preferences clear. When I sit at my computer to type she climbs onto my lap to request that we watch videos of her in dance class. Sometimes I accommodate but sometimes I have to say, “not now, sweetheart. Mommy is busy.”

    I joke that I worked hard for ten years (trying to achieve a live birth) only to finally produce a little boss. She is a joy, of course, but make no mistake, she is a lot of work for my poor menopausal (I hit menopause early) brain injured self. (I suffered a stroke that put me in a coma caused by HELLP Syndrome at her birth). HELLP is a rare pregnancy complication…no one knows what causes it other than pregnancy. There may be a male genetic component. No one yet knows for sure. Despite all this I am grateful to be a mom at long last.

    This was my first child. We married young (26) and waited til we were 35 to try to conceive only to suffer three losses before moving on to ART. Ah well, we’re parents now…and I like to think that the difficulty of the journey makes us more aware of how precious our daughter is.

  6. Janet says:

    Yikes, not looking forward to menopause! I am 48 with teens and a very strong-willed 3 year old whom we all adore! I thought my 3rd child would be easy and mild. Ha! Was I wrong! In fact, I am finding out when I try to predict certain things about my children, I am often wrong. LOL.

    But it only reminds me that they are who they are and I just embrace it! In fact, we never really know how things are going to ‘pan’ out for us. So, I figure I’ll hop on the menopause ‘bus’ or rollercoaster or whatever kind of ride it will be, work to stay healthy and pray for the best.
    So glad I have teenagers and a great husband who are willing to help out with my 3 year old, so I can get a little ‘me’ time.

    As for teenagers, I remember being worried about that age from all I had heard or read about from those experience parents. Teenagers can be demanding, but I also find them to be funny, insightful and I feel so blessed to watch them grow up and find a place for themselves.
    It is so nice to know we are not alone in motherhood!
    Blessings everyone!

  7. Debbie Moore (http://oldermomdiaries NULL.blogspot NULL.com/) says:

    “strapping on a fat suit”, LOL.

    I thought my daughter was strong willed also, but I have come to decide that she is highly sensitive. Psychologist, Elaine Aron’s work on the highly sensitive has taught me a lot about myself and my daughter. Not that it makes raising children in middle-age any easier, but it certainly has finally explained a lot to me.

  8. Karlys says:

    I am currently 40 years old (will be 41 in October) and hope to begin insemination attempts in August. I know there will be no “perfect” time to become a mom. That being said, I still vividly remember how cautious I had to be around my mom when she was going through the change. There’s no way I could expect a child – male or female – to take that responsibility on their shoulders when they are feeling overwhelmed with the changes happening in their own body. I saw how my youngest brother’s personality changed around the age of 12, so I know this is equally an issue for girls AND boys. This is not quite enough info to make me cease & desist from my dream of becoming a mom, but it does make me concerned about my ability to handle being an older mom.

  9. EMA says:

    In the early hours of my 50th birthday in April 2012, I found myself nursing my then 23 month old twins…they had had a rough night teething and the nursing was helping to calm them down. I felt the trade-off was fair – a bit of nursing now…a bit more sleep later. Many mothers know this deal….:)

    Thanks for this post. I am grateful to know that there are other older mothers out there with young children. We get to stare into the coming years of our 40s, 50s or even 60s with our little soul companions along for the journey. Who knows what life holds for us all, but regardless of how sleep deprived and tired I feel most of the time, I am thrilled that I am not in it alone. Teenagers!!? I can’t even begin to imagine them at 12 and me at 60…:)
    At least I know for sure, I will have stopped nursing by then though.

    • rita hunt says:

      I am almost 55 and mother of 4 1/2 yr old twin girls.. would love to compare progress with yours as they sound similar ages..

  10. Carolyn (http://www NULL.mommyinthmiddle NULL.com) says:

    Ha, I thought of you today when I caught myself in the mirror and said, “who is that wrinkly, tired looking woman?”

    At 52 it really does seem as if women in their forties are all glowing and vibrant while I’m on the cusp of old age. (Menopause is almost over, I guess, I had my last period about a year ago).

    I comfort myself by thinking, “20 years from now I’ll see photos of myself from today and think of how young I looked”. Besides, my six year old doesn’t get it yet that his mom is “old”. For now, that helps.

  11. Mary Lou says:

    Whew! So happy I found this site! I’m a 51 year old former foster parent who adopted three sister’s 7, 5, 4. We have had each child since birth, so blessed! I love them very much but at the end of the day I’m exhausted! I’m so happy there are other’s like me who understand the joy and the pain. Hate being told my Grandkids are cute,ouch! Thanks ladies!

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