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When Hala Gorani, CNN anchor during my Mother’s Day interview, implied that our brave new maternal world—now teeming with first time mothers over 40—had outgrown ageism, I was taken aback.
Not that I criticize her for it, but she was seeing the issue from her own perspective—that she had many mature mom friends. Surely, the issue of discrimination against mothers based on their age is now passé?
I have to admit that, recently, I’ve received a few emails from moms in their mid-to-late 40’s who’ve told me that they’ve experienced nothing but support and acceptance from neighbors, friends and other moms.
Could they be the moms whose genetics come with built-in Botox?
Or have we just come a long way since the 80’s test-tube baby and the hills are alive with the tender seedlings of social acceptance for midlife motherhood?
After all, what choice did they have? Like I’ve said all along, you can’t stop a flourishing army, nor is there any point in closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.
What do I mean by that exactly? We’re in the midst of a mini-midlife mom baby boom. Ergo, through sheer growth of numbers—a 6% increase in birthrate for women over 40 in the last 2 years to be precise—the reality of mature motherhood is a fait accompli.
But do I think the general public was rushing out to meet us with flowers and love letters as if we are visiting royalty?
Hardly.
The maternal age thing has been rammed down their necks in the supermarkets, the schools and the parish churches. In short, as Moose A. Moose puts it—everywhere we go.
I still believe that, generally speaking, our society has a deep-seated discomfort with mature motherhood that has nearly birthed itself into an official cultural taboo.
That reality was driven home to me yesterday when I was our A Child After 40 online community (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/a-child-after-40-online/) board and a member chimed in with the latest “grandma story.”
The 49-year-old mom was with her twin toddler girls when she visited the restroom at a department store. A woman, who was applying her lipstick in the mirror, glanced over at the girls and smiled.
She commented that they were beautiful and added: “I have ten of my own—grandchildren are such fun, aren’t they?”
When twin-mom began to hint at the truth, the stranger beat a hasty retreat.
Just in case we have a few head-scratchers, here’s a definition of prejudice:
prej•u•dice (prj-ds)n.
a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
b. A preconceived preference or idea.

So, was Hala Gorani right? Is social discrimination against later life motherhood virtually extinct? In my opinion, the jury’s still out.

Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.
A CHILD AFTER 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/community). The first online community to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40, launching at www.flowerpowermom.com/a-child-after-40.

12 Responses to Prejudice, What Prejudice?

  1. Kim says:

    I think a few years ago, many looked at women 40 and over as too old to have children. But I hate to say it – but celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts have almost made it acceptable.

    It’s not as frowned upon as it use to be, just look at CNN Anchorwoman Kyra Phillips who is over 40 and just had twins.

  2. Merri Ann (http://www NULL.over40momadventures NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    I would love to have a discussion with you about this topic.

    I am more often assumed to be “grandma” to my 3 children (5, 4, & 4) than I am “mom”. It is a little irritating at times … but I AM, in fact, old enough to be their grandma … I’m about to celebrate my 49th birthday. I choose to not take offense. They are simply making an observation.

    I do wish they would think before they speak and give me the benefit of the doubt and call me mom … I’m always concerned that it will have an impact on my kids. Right now they think it’s funny and they are quick to correct these people.

    But I have never … not once … had someone make a negative comment about my age. I find myself trying to ease their embarrassment by saying that we tried for over 10 years to have kids and finally found a doctor that was able to help us.

    I’m not in any way implying that others are not being confronted with negative comments … I’m just surprised … as this has not been my experience.

    I frankly don’t know of any other moms who had kids after 40. When I hear people talk about being an older mom they are usually in their mid 30′s and I don’t consider that an older mom.

    Again, I would love to have a conversation with you about it.

  3. Marcia says:

    I had two kids after 40, and I’m now 52. There are many issues to deal with far beyond looking like “grandma.” I lost my husband to cancer last year, and the reality that we older parents are also more likely to get sickly while are kids are young is a very real thing to think about before pursuing kids after 40. Now, I’m a 52 year old widowed mom of two pre-teens and life is not easy. THIS is a far worse thing about older motherhood than someone calling me “grandma.” And it’s something that many women over 40 contemplating motherhood just don’t think about. So my good piece of advice to over-40 moms and dads…be sure you have a zillion dollar life insurance policy so that if either of you face illness, your kids are and spouse are well provided for.

  4. Angela says:

    I heard the term Advanced Maternal Age at 40 and almost fell over. Just love your blog. I am a mother who had her son naturally at 43 (after failed IVF’s) and now at 48 I’m wishing to do it again. It’s amazing how many people will ‘do the math’ for you. “When your child is x years old, you will be x years old”. Trust me, we’ve all done the math. Viewed your news interview segment and you were articulate and supportive. Bravo. I will keep reading. Love it!

  5. John says:

    Subject: Older Father

    Message: I just read about you and your site in the Washington Times, and agree that “older parents” know and do much better parenting than many younger ones. I am an older Dad and am always having people say to my 7 yr. old are you with your grand father, which I respond, “Please do not confuse us, I am her father and we are confused enough”. That usually makes my point, when I am in the same situation I ask �and who are you with” the child then can respond by saying my dad, or who ever. People are dumb, and prove that for the most part the only time they open their mouth is to change a foot. I have two older children by a deceased wife, and now I have this wonderful experience of having another child. I have forgotten more about being a parent then most young parents know.

  6. midlife mommy (http://midlifemommy NULL.typepad NULL.com) says:

    Love your site! I have volumes to say, and it’s so nice to connect with others like me . . . as for now, and on this post, let’s just leave it at sharing that I’ve already gotten an estimate on an “eye job” (and holy cow, is it expensive).

  7. Vicki Rebneris says:

    My Mother was 45 and my father 54 when I was born, the youngest of seven children. Your whole website is dedicated to mothers over 40 but no one has addressed the issue from the “children” of parents over 40.

    By the time I was 10, my friends were skiing, boating, camping, riding and taking road trips with their youthful parents who had lots of energy and good health. My father was recently retired and TIRED, so was my mother. My weekends were spent in the yard, while my father had a nap, and my mother did some knitting. A big trip for me was to the locate museum or a walk on the beach. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents dearly, but my father died when I was 25. When I married I decided that I would not have children after the age of 30. My first was born at 24, my second at 26 and my third at 29. Today at 67 I enjoy being a grandmother, something my children never had. You may feel and think young now, but 10 years makes a big difference and possibly your health could change or your husbands.

    Think long and hard about the impact your decision has on your children.

    I know, I grew up in that experience.

  8. Michelle E. says:

    Vicki: You wrote your comment a few months ago, but I’ll respond anyway on the off-chance you do look back over this…I just want to say there are as many different sorts of mature parents as there are younger parents. I’m sorry you missed out on having parents who were involved in your physical life and development. I did, too, but my parents were 21 and 20 when I was born. They were never involved with my activities. They never took me skiing or boating. We went on one vacation a year, but my parents were more interested in socializing with adults than with my brother and sister and me. I had my baby at 45. My husband was 39. Our son is nearly 4 now. We’re both physically active and take our son biking, swimming, rafting. I go down water slides and into wave pools. We kick a soccer ball around the backyard. Having him has kept me feeling younger in most ways (except when I compare skin tautness with the young mothers I see all the time…) Anyway, I think parental involvement has more to do individual parents that it does with age.

  9. Olga says:

    @Vicky. Wow!!! Such egotistical attitude of some children always leaves me with uneasy feelings. For some people grass is always greener on the other side. Not all parents are heavily involved in their kids’ activities; many parents don’t care about camping. Yet if they are “younger parents”, nobody will attribute it to their age!
    The choice of Vicky’s parents was not having children at a younger age, as she tries to present it here: they already had 6 kids at younger age, and it was not Vicky. The only choice her poor parents did have was to either give her life, or to abort her, yet she carried this heavy weight of resentment to her parents’ age up to her ‘golden years’. So disheartening!

  10. Debe says:

    My daughter is 5 I am 48. Yes I get the question,”Is she yours?” My response is “No, I am hers”. However, it was even worse once- when In a restaurant with her dad I was called his mom. He is much younger but really?

  11. KoryO says:

    Vicki, I’m sorry that your parents were tired. Mine were 37 (Mom) and 48 (Dad) when I was born. My brother was born 2 years later.

    Maybe it was more that your parents were tired out by seven kids, but that certainly wasn’t my experience.

    I really wished sometimes that someone would have given my Dad a tranquilizer….he was like the Energizer Bunny! He took me and my brother everywhere, and brought along some of the neighborhood kids, too. He was the one bugging my brother to play catch, build rockets and do all the stuff little boys do. (Plus, he had enough seniority at work to take time off to be at our special events like concerts.)

    BTW, I had my son at 39, my girl at 42 (with my hot young stud of a husband……grrr!), and I’m not any more tired than the rest of the moms in the playgroup. Just sayin’.

  12. Katlyn says:

    There is no guarantee that someone’s parents will be around forever.

    So even if you are born to a 20 year old mom, there is no guarantee she will live long enough to see you grown.

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