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80's_Ladies

Every morning—now that I’m pushing past the threshold of midlife, as my 50th birthday looms—I carefully check for pernicious grey roots in the mirror, lest I get caught out by the swarming “yummy mummies” when I drop my 4-year-old off at preschool.

I live a double life: in the privacy of my home office, the colossal drive to reach out to over-40 moms around the world advances in cloistered secrecy, while my existence in the outside world of SMUTs (Stepford Moms Under 35) borders on the farcically surreal, like a glass menagerie.

I’ve written about them before, from my lonely perch, in the ivory tower—where the memory of wearing a size 6 has long dimmed in life’s rear view mirror (supplanted by a now ever-expanding rear) and the hoop earrings I once wore with youthful panache that can these days only find utility in hanging a shower curtain.

If my purpose in reaching out with Flower Power Mom was to find a sisterhood—real moms over 40—then I have found their light burning humbly in the heart of ‘Stepford’ (hidden in plain sight) where the “yummy mummies” frolic and play.

Stepford.

Or, in this case, Seattle. Washington.

Forty-one year old Leah—mother of two toddler daughters nearly 3 and 18 months—became the organizer of 80s Ladies With Babies (http://www NULL.meetup NULL.com/80s-ladies/photos/223009/#2190626), a Seattle group for older moms with young children, in 2007.

And now, with 90 members in her group, she keeps the light in the window burning bright for weary, over-40 mom seekers of friendship and solace.

Like the rest of us, Leah put off marrying until she met the right person and got some career time under her belt.

It was only after qualifying with a Masters degree in counseling psychology—and working for several years with the chronically mentally ill—that she settled down in her late thirties.

“I knew all along that it would be close in terms of my fertility and age but it didn’t hit me until I was ready to start that family—I was out of time” she says.

Leah subsequently endured “one wild emotional rollercoaster of pure hell” in fertility treatments become pregnant with her two daughters, delivered by C-section.

But the ‘rollercoaster’ had just begun.

Now a mother, she began to notice the great divide between herself and younger mothers.

“That total exhaustion is very typical of moms who are older than average” says Leah. “And it’s easy to see that if you ever hang around those younger moms—they have so much energy; they’re popping with it.”

“I used to think, ‘what’s wrong with me?’”, she continues.

Of course, there was also the loss of career status that came with being a SAHM.  (See FPM blog link.)

Leah says she feels “saddened by how little respect that society gives to mothers for the work they do.”

“It suddenly becomes clear that that status that we may have gotten from our previous career or background is no longer there.”

And the challenges didn’t end there. Leah’s peer-aged friends began to melt away—many, whose children were now grown, didn’t want to hear Leah or her husband talk about their toddler daughters.

Isolation was further exacerbated by age differences when she made efforts to socialize.

When Leah joined parenting groups, she was the odd one out:

“We went around the circle and shared information about ourselves and it became clear that we were the couple who was odd—I watched as the other younger moms clustered together because they had more in common.”

Forty-four year old mom (and member of Leah’s group), Randi, was a lobbyist for elected officials (including the mayor of Seattle) for 14 years before finally giving birth to her son at 42.

“It wasn’t my plan to have children so late in life,” she says.

“I always thought along the way of pursuing a career I would meet a man. At some point, I gave up on that, working insane hours, leaving very little time to meet someone with whom to have a family.”

Also like many midlife mothers, Randi experienced the shock of parenthood after a lifetime of career and independence.

“I think having had a whole life before having babies is both a blessing and a curse.”

“[Now] I have more patience and wisdom” she continues.

“On the flip side, I think I might be more tired than a younger mother and it’s been so much more difficult to take off the postpartum weight.”

And, like Leah, she was plummeted into the isolation of searching for playdates amongst the SMUTs:

“I feel very out of place at various playgroups and within my religious community” she says, “where if a woman is my age with young children, it is most likely her 7th or more!”

It was only when she got “sick of feeling older” after a meeting with an attachment parenting group full of younger mothers, that Randi reached out and found 80s Ladies With Babies (http://www NULL.meetup NULL.com/80s-ladies/photos/223009/#2190626).

“I came home feeling very frustrated and dejected and started searching for groups for moms my age.”

Since joining the group, Randi says “I’ve met great women with similar stories, traveling the same road.”

Another group member and former office manager—41-year-old Michele—knows only too well the difference between being a yummy-vs.-midlife-mummy.

Hopkins had her daughter, now 11 years old, at 30 and then waited nearly ten years before having her son, now two.

According to Michele, “The first time it seems much easier.”

But when she got pregnant at 39, she got an eye-opener.

“My first visit to the baby doctor made me feel very old,” recalls Michele.

“I looked around and saw moms with low ride jeans and huge bellies sticking out and other obvious signs they were not even close to being 30.”

“Once I had my son” she continues, “I started going to a mom group at one of the local hospitals and looked around and found myself to be the oldest.”

Michele, who now organizes the venues for 80s Ladies meetups, feels it’s changed her life: “I was now going to meet moms close enough to my age and not feel like I’m the outcast. It also has helped lift my spirits.”

All of the women agree that connecting with other new older moms in the group has made a marked difference in their social lives.

Says Leah: “It has helped decrease feelings of isolation and depression and helped me adjust to all the changes that motherhood brings.”

While she encourages all over-40 mothers to reach out—no matter how tired they might feel—to find groups of older moms, it is Randi who brings it all home with poignant perspective:

“I wasn’t prepared for just how lonely and isolated I would feel.”

“While motherhood is wonderful and very fulfilling, sometimes I feel like the kid who has to stay in and practice violin while all of the other kids are out playing and having fun.”

“Being bold enough to start a family after 40, I would advise being bold enough to find or start a group of like-minded and same age moms. “

Links for this blog:

Meet-up Group: 80s Ladies With Babies

http://www.meetup.com/80s-ladies (http://www NULL.meetup NULL.com/80s-ladies)

Leah Block’s contact emai:

experie‌nce_change@‍hotmail.com (experi‌ence_change null@null ‍hotmail NULL.com)

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