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(http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/the-silence-of-the-moms/silence-of-the-moms/)
One of the toughest challenges of having children after 40 is that we seem—by definition of choosing motherhood later—to have been stripped of our maternal bitching rights.
Younger mothers are free to complain of being tired—of not having enough help, of having too much laundry, or too little sleep.
But not us. We have to be on our guard.
In fact, my Halloween experience last weekend was a rude reminder that—when it comes to being older mothers—we’re often forced to wear sackcloth and ashes in silence.
Halloween reminded me of the social stigma, and the implied expectation that I should do some sort of penance, because I chose to have my children in my 40’s.
And, worse, Halloween isn’t what it used to be.
Instead of a few hours on a single night, occurring once a year, when you could shout at your neighbor’s doors and demand sugared bounty, it’s now a 3-day affair.
On Friday, I attended a school Halloween carnival and chaperoned my 5-year-old “Bat-witch” amidst the milling mass of a few hundred children.
Saturday evening, we threw a Halloween party for our neighbors’ children, who—with unsheathed rubber swords in pursuit of young screaming damsels—made Friday The 13th (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th_%28franchise%29) look like a Sunday picnic.
Such was the aftermath of absolute destruction that Frank wordlessly stepped out onto the veranda and brought in the large outdoor broom we use for sweeping the driveway. It took all of Sunday to see the floor again.
Sunday night, Frank and I dutifully ferried our Bat-witch and our 8-year-old Ninja Turtle into town for a night of trick-or-treating revelry.
Later, at the crack of midnight, I was hurriedly thrusting the Ninja Turtle’s school uniform into the dryer, lest he should have nothing but his shell to wear the next day.
At 5am—when the definition of being “half asleep” merely means you’ve got one eye glued shut—I was pulling clothes from the vampire machine, lying them flat because I was drained of the strength needed to fold.
Later Monday morning, a friend—who is a grandmother—emailed me to say that she’d thrown a Halloween party for her grandchildren and her son and daughter-in-law’s friends and their children.
Dripping with grandmotherly pride and munificence, she announced that she’d be caring for the little boy while her son and his wife trotted off to a conference this week.
My reply got T-boned in my throat, as I imagined the homely scene and parents free to enjoy themselves.
As I dropped the kids at school, one of the moms I was friendly with—who always glimmered prettily with fresh lipstick, her hair beautifully coifed—told me that her widowed mother did all her laundry.
In fact, her widowed mother woke, breakfasted and fed her children before her feet even touched the bedroom floor each weekday morning.
I realized with a sense of real idiocy that I’d been grateful for the cover of my witch hat for the last 3 days of festivities because I can’t shoe-horn the time to get my roots done into my domestic schedule.
Suddenly I was at risk of belting out a scream of anguish, like the Wicked Witch of the West: “I’m melting! melting! Oh, what a world!” (http://www NULL.imdb NULL.com/title/tt0032138/quotes)
But the sheer grit of pride kept my teeth jammed together in silence.
There are many who will luxuriate in the schadenfreude (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Schadenfreude) of watching us older mothers have to lie in the beds we made of our childbirth.
We are simultaneously faced with two evils.
First, in having older parents and most of our peers with grown-up children, we often lack the support network that young mothers have.
Second, because we’ve been too often branded as “selfish”—as recently as the CBC Radio 1 program (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/video/news/audioplayer NULL.html?clipid=1627203445) of last week where older mothers were accused of equating children with “commodities”—many think we should suffer in silence.
After all, these are just the consequences of our decisions, aren’t they? We should take it on the chin and like it.
Yet, the brave new world of pro-women’s choice and startling advancements in fertility medicine—the one in which the greatest rise in fertility is led by women over 40—cannot afford to be so short-sighted.
As I’ve written about previously, in our late 40’s and early 50’s, we are entering the much-feared “sandwich generation” and a time of physiological transition where support is needed more than ever before.
For women—and especially mothers—the ability to build a communication and support network has always been the wellspring of our empowerment.
Mothers over 40 are too often cowed to silence, not daring to admit that they struggle just like any other mother—and with much less of a support network.
It’s time to open up, reach out and share the load. Without fear of being villified.
Notes for this blog:
CBC Radio 1, The Current:
http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=1627203445 (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/video/news/audioplayer NULL.html?clipid=1627203445)
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/)), where she blogs regularly about later life motherhood. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org (editor null@null flowerpowermom NULL.com).
- (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/health-headlines/women-increasingly-going-online-to-seek-free-sperm-donors-1 NULL.1590245)
Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
AARP's "Inside E-Sreet" on PBS TV (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
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