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A mother’s ‘guilt’ organ is firmly ensconced in her conscience from the moment her first child is conceived and it thrives there like a weed in a fertile growing field until the end of her days.
The countless uneasy seeds borne of ripe crops of self-blame are the moments in her life where she thinks “I must be a bad mother!”
My children are only 7 and 4-years old and I’ve harvested from these pointless fields time and time again, as if my emotional sustenance depended upon on some form of maternal self-flagellation—and a peering at other mothers and thinking they know something I don’t.
But for many women, one of the central virtues of later life motherhood is the confidence to trust in a rich harvest of experience instead—a knowing that real and effective mothering transcends appearances.
When it comes to experience, 48-year-old nurse and mother of six, Christine Tullmann from St. Louis, MO, has a virtual “PhD” in being a mom.
By the age of 24, she was the mother of 3 biological children and a stepmother of one. She then remarried after her 40th birthday and gave birth to two more children at the age of 42 and 44, only to become a grandmother one month after her last child was born, and now with another grandchild on the way.
(Just trying to wrap my head around it reminds me of the large-tongue-in-a-fat-cheek song “I’m My Own Grandpa.” (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=W7x1ETPkZsk))
To put the cherry on the icing of the Mother’s Day cake, Tullmann’s been both a SAHM and a working mom—she can talk from both sides of her mouth about the guilty challenges of motherhood.
In her second marriage to a special education teacher—and starting her career afresh by launching her own holistic nursing practice—Tullmann’s got a clear picture of the differences between motherhood sooner versus later.
“In my twenties,” she says, “I was very influenced by the opinions of others and easily swayed by them.”
“I was concerned about appearances and ‘what will the neighbors think?’ while trying to protect my children from failure.”
But Tullmann argues that becoming a mother after 40 was a whole new ball of wax.
While, as a young mother, she often wished for the more demanding challenges such as diapers or potty training to be over, she now knows that every stage is “temporary” and “precious.”
“I think I did my best as a young parent, but I didn’t have all my tools in my tool belt and the ones I did have were not sharpened!” she explains.
With her older children now in their 20s and her two youngest aged 5 and 4-years-old, Christine Tullmann says that on parenting issues, she seldom seeks out the opinion of others and allows her children to fail and learn from their mistakes.
Most importantly, she has a healthy helping of maternal self-forgiveness: “I find it easier, with age, to laugh at my own mistakes!” says Tullmann.
“As an older mom, I have gifts and skills that include wisdom, patience, a larger world view, self-knowledge and self-love, along with an appreciation of time and the preciousness of the moment.”
According to Christine, now that she is older, “the [parenting] tools are more sophisticated and sharper now!”
She describes mothering at a later time in life as being able to “provide a more comfortable nest for the little ones to grow up in.”
Having observed today’s younger mothers, she also highlights some key parenting differences, both related to age and generation.
“Younger mothers typically place too much emphasis on their child’s looks, accomplishments or grades,” she says.
“They want their children to garnish praise, ribbons and trophies, while many children appear to suffer stress from the effort to please.”
And like many of today’s over-40 mothers who grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s, Christine Tullmann sees how dramatically childhood has been changed by the upsurge of technology in our culture.
“What is different from 20 years ago is that we have too much technology—TV, computer games, cell phones, etc.”
“Younger parents themselves are super-connected to their cell phones and computers so that much valuable family time is lost,” continues Tullman, who says she “absolutely knows the value of creative, unstructured, outdoor play” for children.
Christine Tullmann’s final verdict on motherhood after 40?
“My role as an older mother has caused a shift in my thinking about healthy living,” she says.
“My goal is to dance a jig at my youngest son’s 50th birthday when I’ll be 94!”
Notes for this blog:
Christine Tullmann is currently launching her business as a holistic nurse educator and an independent distributor of USANA Health Sciences products.
Her USANA website is http://jctullmann.usana.com (http://jctullmann NULL.usana NULL.com/)
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