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Of course, everyone’s supposed to receive them just like they were big luscious slices of rich cake.
The yin for that yang, however, appears to be the “bad old bag lady.” Seriously, how many of you have heard “good old mom” bandied about in conversation lately?
Since the launch of this blog, I feel I’ve carried a torch in the fight to lift the rock of social norms and reveal ageism against women and mothers over 40, and the double standards for older mothers vs. fathers.
But there’s been a price to pay. And that price has been keeping my lip zippered about just how hard it is to be a mother in midlife.
Nowhere is this more notable than the sudden induction into baby bedlam—where giving birth means becoming a lifelong taxi driver to a kid with a dance card so full of extra-curricular activities that you’d have to be an Olympic distance runner just to stay alive.
In fact, it was Olympic gold medalist Marilyn McReavy who said that becoming a mom in her 50’s was like going from coach potato to marathon runner.
But I digress from the meat of the matter.
Today is a different sort of day. It’s a day of truth. Because I’ve discovered something I didn’t know. Young mothers have it just as rough.
By hiding my pain, I’m implying that being older is harder. The fact is, motherhood is just tough all around. Any mother who sees it differently has got her eyes full of granola.
Perimenopause has my muscles aching in the morning. I know what the cure is. I need to go to the gym. But if I don’t volunteer in my daughter’s kinder class, she’ll be upset. The other moms and the teacher will be upset.
It won’t matter what I say. No excuses.
Think of the choices: Gym or kinder class? Take time out to eat something healthy in the morning, or stuff a donut down your neck? Have a shower or pack a kid snack? Shave your legs or fold the laundry?
I’ve been walking around like an old bag lady who forgot to buy clothes for the last 8 years, who doesn’t know what it’s like to do anything involving personal fulfillment.
Because if I do, I’m a bad old mom.
But, as one of my favorite gal-pals (an over40 mom who’s also 50) is fond of reminding me, we need to stick with “emergency procedures.”
In the emergency procedures given at take-off on most airplanes, you make sure you put on your own oxygen mask before you do it for your kid.
Why? If you lose consciousness, your kids’ prospects are going to start circling the drain.
So, today is about admission of midlife maternal weakness, and I have a younger mom to thank for it.
At www.renegademothering.com (http://www NULL.renegademothering NULL.com/), I found Janelle. She’s at the other end of the mommy-age spectrum.
She says: “My youth passed in an instant, my freedom expired, my free-wheeling, hot and young days ended –abruptly, at 21, many years before I was ready. “
“I swung between moments of compliance with my new identity and vengeful, furious rejection of it.”
She’s named her “About” page “Playdate In A Trailer”, not because she lives in a trailer park, but because her experience of mothering life is off the beaten track.
“Where do the bad mothers go?” she asks, literally begging the question.
“What about those of us who love our children as much as the well-adjusted knowledgeable stable enlightened types but just can’t seem to get it right?”
“What about those of us who just aren’t cut out for this shit but are doing it anyway?”
She’s surrounded by “overgrown lawns, dirty cloth diapers and books I want to read but don’t and toys and dishes. Sometimes I demand that my kids just sit down be quiet and watch Netflix because I can’t stand one more moment of noise or movement.”
“And if one more person says “Mama” I am going to take a bat to the windows.”
I like Janelle. She says it like it is. And she’s young. She’s the antithesis of the politically correct pop-child-psych mom.
She reminds me that sometimes a good verbal food fight makes us all feel a little lighter.
So, what’s the truth? Only a GOOD mom worries about being a BAD mom.
Because, in spite of it all, at night, Janelle leans over her sleeping kid and says: “God keep her safe…I am so lucky to have this child.”
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
Janelle’s site: Renegade Mothering—Tales of a Wayward Mama. www.renegademothering.com (http://www NULL.renegademothering NULL.com/)
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