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This is a call for change.
It is a call to all women who are existing, expectant or hopeful-to-be mothers after 40—and to those who love them.
It is a call for all of us to spread the word—for we are the wave of future motherhood and only as a collective can we empower change.
The tide of media and public backlash
Because Mother’s Day 2010 looms and I found couldn’t stem the old wave. born of ignorant, class-action judgments that drown the truth of later life motherhood—those whipped up by a media eager to find a graying head for the thorny crown of ‘world’s oldest mother’ or ‘oldest woman for IVF’.
Or by those physicians who demand we’re road-tested for fertility like old mares having their gums vet-checked, or accuse us of selfishly ‘sticking our heads in the sand’ until motherhood is nothing short of unseemly.
It is the wave of dismay I felt at how over-40 mothers, who are the great unsung heroines daring to swim against the common maternal current—the one teaming with schools of youthfully bliss-eyed yummy mummies—must now accept ‘the remains of the day’.
The remains of the reverence, respect and, often, adulation, that society holds for mothers because they perpetuate human existence—and are the sole bearers of that grail of sacred responsibility.
The ‘whatever’s left’ after the more deserving sisters of Venus—the ones gracing the covers of parenthood magazines the world over—have garnered the lioness’s share of the public heart.
Because, in the end, we are left cradling the crumbs left behind.
The very remains of Mother’s Day.
The hard road to midlife motherhood
Media and public criticism—the backlash of the communal pointed finger that condemns us ‘selfish’, physically unfit, and willing to leave the financial and moral burden of our children’s upbringing to the state when we die right on time for that to happen—has beggared us for real societal support or approval.
And yet, for most of us, the road to motherhood was hard.
When I conceived naturally at 41 and 44, little did I realize that I was blessed beyond compare—the conception exception that proves the midlife motherhood rule.
And, for those who had to resort to ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies), the journey more closely resembled Horatio Nelson Jackson’s (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Horatio_Nelson_Jackson)pioneering cross-country car odyssey in 1903—an uncertain effort of daring faith, fraught with potholes, wrong turns and bitterly dashed hopes, time and time again.
Like a recent over-40 mother put it: It was “one wild emotional rollercoaster of pure hell.”
Yet, I’ll never forget the hue and cry after Flower Power Mom was featured, during its launch in October 2009, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/#pages/media NULL.html).
Despite the upbeat story, critics descended online to accuse me (and other midlife mothers) of selfishness–a motion which included the bitter judgment of a grandmother who was (clearly feeling) lumbered with raising her young granddaughter.
But she was just the humble ambassador for a finger-pointing mass of critics from around the world.
And now, having raised Alex to 7 and Lizzie to 4 years of age thus far, I’m adrift in an ocean of conjecture (nay, I’m drowning in it). How can even the most whimsical idea of dedicating your life to raising children be considered selfish at any age?
Choosing selfless parenthood over sailboat retirement
Back in the 1990s my husband Frank was given “the brochure” by a fertility clinic as he was shuffled out the door—the one with the retired couple on the expensive sailboat toasting each other into the sunset.
So here’s some champagne for thought:
With a well-heeled career commanding self-esteem enriching respect—along with the luxury of fanning herself with the reassurance of a prosperous retirement—wouldn’t the very act of a woman in her forties funneling her wealth into a living being that will demand it all for the next 20 years, by any other standard, be considered an act of lunacy?
On the bottom line, yes.
But there’s no standard like the motherhood standard.
We gave up the champagne-sailboat retirement package for the selfless-parenthood one—and we did it at an age where there’s no empty-nest rest period to look forward to.
And now for the cake.
We grew up in an era where grandparents were deeply valued members of the extended family to be highly regarded for their youth-enriching wisdom. There was no substitute for the elixir of experience combined with a grandparent’s doling it out with love and hope.
And now, as parents of young children in our 40s, 50s and 60s, we have that and more to offer our precious cargo on this journey.
So, it’s time–because that’s what we’re short of, by all accounts. Time to celebrate who we are and what we have to give.
A mother of an evolution—spread the word
From now until Mother’s Day 2010, Flower Power Mom (FPM) (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) is launching a ground-breaking awareness campaign to relieve the stigma of midlife motherhood and to celebrate the beauty, wisdom and strength of women having children after 40:
CELEBRATE MIDLIFE MOTHER’S DAY 2010
We’re asking you to contribute your ‘pearls of wisdom’, spread the word and perhaps receive a special Mother’s Day gift—please read on!
How can you help?
1. Post this blog link.
From today onward, post this link on your online networks and email it to all of your contacts—everyone is connected to an over-40 mom and those who love them. This blog:
2. Check in for regular updates.
This month, a group of FPM midlife mother volunteers and their children will gather for an innovative photo-party to launch the new Celebrating Midlife Motherhood campaign T-shirt range, and to share their unique stories of wisdom and strengh.
Noted San Francisco Bay Area photographer Scott Lewis (http://www NULL.lewisimages NULL.com/), and graphic designer Joan Lintz (joanlintz_thompson null@null yahoo NULL.com) (over-40 mom of twins!) are donating their time and talents to creating the Midlife Mother’s Day Tribute Album and crafting the original designs for the Celebrating Midlife Motherhood campaign T-shirts.
We’ll report on that party in the FPM blog (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) during the week of 22nd March.
3. Pearls of Wisdom Wall of Fame and Mother’s Day gift.
Write to us with your “Midlife Mom Pearls of Wisdom” (a sentence or two) at firstname.lastname@example.org (editor null@null flowerpowermom NULL.com) .
Selected ‘pearls’ will be published on the FPM site (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) as part of the campaign on US Mother’s Day, May 9th 2010, and writers will be given a gift-wrapped Celebrating Midlife Motherhood campaign T-shirt.
Photograph yourself in the campaign T-shirt and we’ll post your ‘pearl & picture’ on the Pearls of Wisdom Hall of Fame online at FPM.
4. Join us from April 11th onward for the Tribute and Gift Launch.
From April 11th to May 9th 2010 (American Mother’s Day), FPM will kick-off the first international Tribute to Midlife Motherhood with a series blog of photo-stories on our Flower Power Moms and the launch of the Celebrating Midlife Motherhood campaign T-shirts for moms, babies and kids that can be ordered gift-wrapped and delivered.
Ten percent of net profits up to 1st June 2010 will be donated to a mother/child charity.
5. Celebrate with Flower Power Mom on 9th May 2010.
Join us on Mother’s Day 2010 and celebrate the beauty, wisdom and strength of our later life mothers with the complete Midlife Mother’s Day Tribute Album that will appear online at Flower Power Mom (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) for its maiden voyage.
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Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
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