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In search of support for A Child After 40–the campaign to empower women on the journey of midlife motherhood–I found an opinion piece published in the LA Times on 31st March, 2011, entitled “Debate: Are children better off with older mothers?”. (See link below.)
It brought home how much the world at large really doesn’t doesn’t get it–the truth behind the women’s movement to have a child after 40 and why we need a champion for our cause.
Is there anyone in the media willing to tell our innermost story?
I wrote this reply to the OpEd at the LA Times and they elected not to publish it:
Your piece brought to mind a favorite saying my former mother-in-law often quoted. Loosely translated from French, it states: “The dogs may bark, but the circus still passes by.”
I find this quote apropos, when it comes to the controversy surrounding motherhood in midlife.
While the debate may rage as to whether or not women should be having children at a later age, women over 40 are voting with their wombs and exercising their free choice. While some hair-splitting moralists may even search for a way to legalize controls over a woman’s right to choose, the statistics for later motherhood continue to rise.
It’s like watching a group of engineers arguing over how to build a dam as the tsunami rises ominously behind them.
My concern lies in the matter that the proponents—advocates and critics—are missing the heart of the matter.
Elizabeth Gregory heralds the empowerment of women as they “trickle up” to the role of policy makers for the nation’s families. Monica Morris draws attention to “embarrassment” felt by a child whose mother happens to be the old nag amongst the school yard fillies—not-to-mention all of the other dire long-term prognostications for midlife parenting.
Seriously speaking, though, anyone who is a parent knows that when you’re dealing with kids, adult debates carry about as much weight as wet party favor bag on a rained out Saturday afternoon party picnic.
Mother Pandora’s box of advanced reproductive technologies, women’s ambition and increasing life expectancy is wide open. Moreover, it’s unlikely the rising number of women having children in midlife is going to subside anytime soon.
It is what it is, and now we must ascertain how to make it its brightest and best.
There is a panoply of long-term implications for midlife motherhood—not just for the children of older mothers, but for mothers themselves, and the infrastructure of what we define as the nuclear family.
Women born in the 1960’s and 70’s who are today having their children in their 40’s or older, are in fact pioneering a generation of new motherhood.
They constitute, no matter how unintentionally, a live test study.
Yet instead of asking the right questions, we are arguing over whether the study should have been authorized in the first instance.
The reality is that the point is moot. We are already in vivo, if you will. The trend in motherhood after 40 is not only a fait accompli in the United States, but it has gone global.
While we can conjecture about the implications about our age-related maternal “study”, no one knows where this is leading for certain. Isn’t it time we began to find out?
The real heart of the matter lies in the heart, if you will. We talk of supporting the next generation of children who are faced with saving a planet nearly crucified by human greed.
Who’s empowering the mothers who will raise them? Who is interviewing the so-called test subjects? Who is doing their due diligence before forming opinions on the benefits or consequences of midlife motherhood?
The truth of the matter is that, while a rising number of women are joining the ranks of motherhood after 40, they are a silent maternal army.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, women listened raptly as our cultural leaders told us we were free to march off and embrace education and a career—that we had equal rights, regardless of sex, race or creed.
We did that. Trustingly.
Fast forward to the new millennium. Over the last decade, women dedicated themselves to their education and career in their 20’s and 30’s.
We have now found ourselves embracing motherhood after 40. Simultaneously, we’ve learned to take a back seat, with our lips sealed, while public opinion has shamed our desire to embrace the call to maternal bonds, no matter our age.
We’ve stoically stood by as our more youthful counterparts complained openly to a sympathetic audience about their sleep deprivation, back pain, or profound yearnings for a little personal time.
We’ve observed uncomplainingly, while young mothers sun themselves on a park bench as “grandma” takes over with little Johnny in the playground.
In the atmosphere of a disapproving social climate, we’ve learned to keep schtum about our needs, concerns and fears—the ones that go with the job, regardless of age.
It’s because we know that we’re facing social discrimination regarding our maternal age that runs more than skin deep.
Far from feeling outraged at being relegated to the back of the bus, we’re expected to be grateful that we’ve managed to get on at all.
And for that very reason, we need a champion for our cause.
Notes for this blog:
MOTHER’S DAY 2011: A CHILD AFTER 40
It’s a mother of an evolution–launching at www.flowerpowermom.com/a-child-after-40.
A Child After 40 is the first campaign to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40. Watch the video. Join the community. Check out the Resources. Pay It Forward. Video: http://www.youtube.com/user/flowerpowermoms (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/user/flowerpowermoms) Campaign Info page: www.flowerpowermom.com/a-child-after-40
LA Times Opinion piece: http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/03/debate-are-children-better-off-with-older-mothers.html
- (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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