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By Caren Chesler, journalist and blogger at The Dancing Egg: An IVF Story for the Over 40 Crowd. (See bio below).

I watched a woman pushing a baby in a carriage in the subway station, and when she reached a set of stairs, she lifted the carriage up into the air and ascended the steps with the ease with which one might lift a carton of eggs or a pile of towels.

I was walking a little bit behind her, and by the time I reached the top of the stairs, I was winded. I was carrying a newspaper. This baby business is a younger woman’s game, I thought.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to be having a baby. I’m thrilled science has advanced enough to help a 47-year old woman, nearing menopause to have a child. But my age and that of my husband, Bruce, who will be 51 next month, will undoubtedly be an issue as we raise this kid.

I asked Bruce the other day what he thought would happen first: our child goes to college or our hearing goes. He said, “I think we’ve already lost that race.”

What Happened to Tommy the Tugboat?

The other day, a neighbor told me she had baby items in her house that she no longer needed, now that her grandchildren were older. This being our first child, we’re starting from scratch.

Envisioning a playpen, a mechanical swing, maybe a high chair, I jumped at the chance and wondered whether I should drive over in our pick-up truck rather than my small two-seater. When I got there, she started to pick through a box full of small stuffed animals and plucked a couple of them out and placed them in a plastic bag.

Pick-up truck? I could carry this stuff home in my teeth, I thought.

“Oh, Tommy the Tugboat,” I said, as she threw a little rubber boat into the plastic bag.

She turned around and looked at me. “Thomas is a train,” she said.

“Yeah. I knew that,” I said. “So who’s the tugboat?”

“I don’t think he has a name,” she said.

My father was the child of older parents. His father was about 42 when my father was born. My father said he constantly lived in fear that his father would die. Our child may have the same fear –and he’ll be justified. He’ll be lucky if we’re still alive by the time he hits 35.

But age is just one of the problems our child will face.

 

It’s Not Just That Technology is Alien—It’s The People Who Use It

Bruce and I are a little out of step when it comes to modern technology. A long line of electrical gadgets  – the iPod Nano, a GPS device for the car, Sirius radio, an electronic recorder – have all entered our home and remain in their original packaging.

We seem to resist that which we don’t understand, and neither of us has the patience to read instruction manuals for things we’ve already learned to live without.

It’s not just these items that are alien to us. It’s the people who use them. When we were in Nantucket, Bruce and I walked down to the beach and saw a young girl sitting on the sand, texting. We both watched her for a moment, sitting in front of the picturesque Atlantic Ocean on an empty beach, not a cloud in the sky, texting.

As we looked out at the water, I suddenly saw two seals swim by. First their heads peaked out of the water, then their fat bodies, followed by their tails.

“Look!” I exclaimed.

Bruce looked out at the water, and as we both watched the seals go by, we turned to the young girl on the beach.

“Did she see them?” I asked.

“No,” Bruce said. “She’s still texting.”

 

What Happened To Family Night?

A friend of ours said he wanted to have family night with his children so that they could spend a little time together, and as they all sat around the living room watching television, my friend said his daughter’s hands were behind her back, and her arms kept flinching like she was having a small seizure.

“Are you texting,” he said, standing up and looking behind her. “Give me that,” he said, trying to get the phone away from her.

“Dad!” she cried and ran out of the room — with the phone.

When I was in Florida last week, I met a couple by the pool who have a 14-year old son. I asked them if it’s hard to deny their child some of the technological gadgets that most kids have these days.

I don’t want my child sitting in his room all day because he’s addicted to his computer, or sitting in front of the television playing a video game with a friend, sweating, his heart pounding, as he races across New York City firing his AK-47 out the car window trying to kill as many women and children as he can before the clock runs out.

 

Getting To Kindergarten Without An i-Phone

“I don’t have a hard time telling our son he can’t have something. I tell him, ‘No means no.’ And he gets that,” the husband said.

I felt relieved.

The man continued. “All his friends have Blackberries. I’m not getting him a Blackberry,” the man said.  “He’s got a cell phone, and that’s got to be good enough for now. Maybe when he’s 15 he can have a Blackberry.”

We’ve got a little time before we have to cross the technological divide. I’m hoping our child is at least in kindergarten before he wants an iPhone. Until then, I’ve got bigger things to worry about – like what to do when I’m pushing the stroller and I reach a flight of stairs, or how I’m going to stay awake long enough to breast feed.

 

Pregnancy, with Hammer-toes and a 47-Year-Old Uterus

And what about childbirth? I hope my 47-year old body is up to the task. I’m already developing hammer-toes on my right foot, and sometimes when I look at the back of hands all brown from the sun, they look flat and wrinkly, like paws, like my grandmother’s hands used to look.

I get leg cramps and have had to pee in the middle of the night, even before I got pregnant. And I found a brown mark on the side of my face that I thought was dirt, but when I tried to wipe it off, I realized it was an age spot. I may have a 20-year old’s eggs, but I have a 47-year old’s uterus. I hope it still knows how to contract.

When I went for my walk on the boardwalk the other morning, I passed a woman jogging and pushing a stroller with two kids in it.

“Is that hard?” I asked as she went by.

“Yes!” she gasped.

“Shit,” I said.

I’ve been looking forward to getting back to jogging after I give birth. I’ve already acquired a jogging stroller through “Freecycle,” but “hard” is not really what I was looking for. As I continued to walk, I passed a second woman pushing a jogging stroller, except she had only one child inside it. She was also moving downhill.

“Is that hard?” I said as she moved past me.

“Not bad,” she said, smiling.

That’s what I wanted to hear.

Notes for this blog:

A journalist for almost 25 years, Caren Chesler has written about topics as diverse as racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike to the newest trends in private equity investing. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The New York Daily News, Popular Mechanics, Miller McCune, New Jersey Monthly, Modern Bride, Investor¹s Business Daily, and the Asbury Park Press, among others. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post and WomensWallStreetWomensWallStreet.com. You can find her blog on later motherhood at: http://thedancingegg.wordpress.com/ (http://thedancingegg NULL.wordpress NULL.com/)

 

13 Responses to Older Mom In A Younger Mom’s Game

  1. international laundress (http://imamomgetmeoutofhere NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    Just wait! Teenagers and menopause is a WMD 😉

  2. Cp says:

    I firmly believe it is only an issue if you let it. You are letting it! Get familiar with technology and the latest toys; im embarrassed for you. And keep in mind there are plenty of hammertoed and winded 20- and 30-something moms out there. (Btw I’m 43 and due any day now with number one and I’m responding to this blog via my iPhone )

    • Beachmom says:

      Amen sister! Just had a baby at 44. There is such a battle to keep our minds in the game. Fitness and health are issues at any age. Must keep the faith.

  3. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    Hi Beachmom and CP–really glad to see such a positive response and faith in how we perceive our age. There is a great deal “in the mind” as they say.
    Yet, I do also feel that International Laundress speaks true as well! I’m 52 and have a 10 and a 7 year old. I’m into perimenopause and definitely sensing puberty on the wind for my children. Can’t help but wonder what’s in store!!! Anyone got any advice on menopause and tweens?

  4. Hope says:

    I’m 44 and my little guy is nearing his 5th birthday. My only real complaint is that i am definitely running on less energy than i was 20 years ago. Oh yes and i struggle to find other moms my age with little ones. Id love to have a playgroup for moms over 40 and their little munchkins.

  5. cathleen says:

    I was wondering when reading about the technology issue if my 75 year old mother wrote this article. Even she has a Facebook account, LOL 😉
    I am nearing my 47th birthday and I have an 8 and 3 year old. I can honestly say that I do not feel I am old and I’m up on every tech gadget out there. I eat Paleo/organic/grass-fed, I do Yoga and high intensity workouts. I can do everything I did in my twenties.
    I guess I just never feel that my age is as important as some of my peers seem to and I don’t see myself as old. I plan to keep healthy and be there for my kids. I just wish people stopped “thinking old”. This article kind of gives me the feeling that the author thinks like an old person. Sure, a person’s health is a factor and if they have poor health, one probably thinks it’s due to age when in fact it has more to do with eating right and being fit. It is critical to feeling young.
    My 52 year old sister is a triathlete and competes with kids more than half her age. She is a grandma (and I a great aunt) but we never think of ourselves as being old.

  6. Lylas says:

    I’m sure glad to read these comments. I read the blog, got steamed about the content and couldn’t bear to comment. Now that I see that I’m not alone in my disagreement, I’d have to say I was stunned that the 47 year old Caren is feeling so old. I was 51 when I gave birth – did headstand in yoga class up until 3 days before the birth and I still do headstand even though 54 is just days away. I go down the slide with my son, jump in the bouncy house at birthday parties, and carry my 35 lbs. son, a gallon of milk, Buzz Lightyear and my backpack with laptop in it from the car up the stairs to our house without even thinking about it. I suppose someone better tell me to slow down ’cause I’M OLD!

  7. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    I guess it has a great deal to do with your chronological age vs. biological age. If you really look after yourself, you can be and feel healthier than women the same age or younger. I guess the take home here is make time to be fit. An over-40 mom fitness trainer I interviewed had exactly that take on it: http://achildafter40.com/put-over40-mom-fitness-trainer/.
    On the other hand, has anyone considered that the author might come from a belief system where we (and our children) should have much less technology in our lives (sort of like when we were growing up? It may not just be about fitness or feeling older.
    E.g., we pulled the plug on cable TV last year and watch only Netflix. Our children are not exposed to that barrage of commercials and we’ve gotten very used to it!!

    • Cynthia says:

      I agree that too much technology is not healthy and I’d like to point out to those who still have a bounty of energy and are feeling youthful: You didn’t arrive at this juncture in life by spending all your time staring to a screen.

  8. Stacey says:

    I’m 43 and my DD is 2. I connected with quite a few women (FTMs) via FB and other social media while I was pregnant. I hardly ever feel my age. I think I look and feel much younger most of the time. I love the friendships I have with these other women because while I can be some of their own mothers, we are all mothers, and that experience I find invaluable. I’ve never discounted someone’s experience because I’m older.

  9. Alene says:

    Wow I have felt so alone. I am an expectant mom at the age of 47. I have an engaged daughter finishing her senior year at the university. My friend’s kids are having kids. I’m totally alone amongst my lifelong peers. Glad to know there are others out there.

    • Linda says:

      I am 48 and 10 weeks pregnant ( a happy accident ) .
      I have 3 older children -much older ! I feel a bit weird as MY friends are contemplating grandparenthood.
      I am not religious, but i think some things are meant to be and women throughout the whole of history prior to the 20 th century had pregnancies as long as they were having sex and had their periods.
      Charles Darwins wife had her last child at 48 !

  10. Tara says:

    I am 47 with a 20 month old, I can relate to the lack of energy but for me that has more to do with no longer getting the workout that I did before my son. The technology thing I’m totally drawn into and my son may soon surpass me in his knowledge of working my iPad, he can find and open an app like a pro. I gave him my old iPod with educational apps on it for the car, it’s great!
    But my mom died early at the age of 53 and I live in fear of that, real fear. I’m working through it because I don’t want it to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

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